For the latest edition of the NE athlete profile, we reached out to Jojo Rajkumari.
Last month, the MMA India Show started an athlete profile series for fighters based in the North-Eastern region of India. Often known as the seven sister states, the region has produced some of the best combat sports athletes in India.
While being thousands of miles away from the national capital, the region has often been ignored by the stuff that goes on in the mainland, the North-Eastern region has over the years has become a hotbed for MMA.
24-year old Jojo hails from Moirang, a town located south of Imphal. She has compiled an MMA record of 2-1 and turned pro in 2018 after an extensive kickboxing career.
Rupendra Sharma, a local businessman from Imphal and an MMA enthusiast helped us in getting in touch with Jojo Rajkumari and with the translation.
1.) How did you get started in Martial Arts and tell us about your accolades?
My first introduction to Martial Arts came in the form of kickboxing in 2007. I have competed at four national tournaments and all of them were held in Delhi. I have also competed in numerous state-level tournaments and throughout my career, I have racked in 11 Golds and 4 Silvers.
2.) What sparked the interest in you to try MMA? How were you introduced to the sport?
I have had an interest in MMA for a long time and was following the sport on TV, but there wasn’t any opportunity to participate or train in MMA in Manipur. However, in 2018, the first-ever Mixed Martial Arts tournament took place in Manipur. Sir Frank, who is the head coach at KMMAC invited me to compete in this tournament.
Following this, I started training in MMA full-time and have been in love with this sport ever since.
3.) Was the transition to MMA hard for you?
For me, the transition wasn’t easy as in Kickboxing, I only had to deal with striking, but in MMA there’s so much more than just striking. But once, I started training regularly, I got a hang of the techniques and started getting better in other aspects of the sport as well.
Prior to my professional debut, Sir Frank took me under his wing and gave me a very solid training camp, so on fight night, I didn’t have any butterflies in my stomach.
4.) Where do you currently train? What is your favorite aspect of MMA training? Are you more grappling oriented or striking?
I have been training under Sir Frank of KMMAC from the very start of my professional career, he has guided my career brilliantly so far and I feel I have developed into a better fighter training under him and I couldn’t ask for a better coach than him.
I have never seen a trainer that has shown such a type of dedication and love towards the students like Sir Frank.
Jojo Rajkumari is getting better with each fight
5.) Tell us something about your previous fights? Which is your toughest fight to date?
So throughout my kickboxing career, I haven’t faced much adversity as I was always better than the level of competition around me. However, MMA is a whole other ball game.
I am currently 2-1 in MMA and the toughest fight of the career took place on my debut. I was fighting in Manipur Fight League (now known as Chainaba) and lost the fight. I was so excited for my professional debut that I wasn’t able to sleep the night before.
I was dominating the fight for the two and a half-round, however, in the middle of the second round, I got really tired and with 20-seconds left on the clock, my opponent submitted me. My opponent was a very experienced fighter and she had competed in MMA tournaments outside of the state as well.
That loss was really a hard pill for me to swallow, however, I learned from that loss and went back to the drawing board with Sir Frank and we both worked on my stamina and conditioning and in the first season of Chainaba, I fought an opponent that had an advantage of 9 kilograms over me and even though it was a tough fight, I managed to emerge victorious.
In the second season of Chainaba, I fought and won convincingly and now I am much more confident than ever.
6.) Do you have a side job apart from MMA?
Although I hail from a town outside of Imphal, I have to live in the capital city because of my training regiment. So I live in a rented apartment in Imphal and moreover, I don’t come from a financially sound family, so I have to pay for my training and dieting on my own.
I do seasonal businesses to help my family and afford my training. During winter, I will sell woolen clothes and during summer, I would sell summer clothing like t-shirts and other merchandise.
I also go fishing in Loktak lake and it’s the largest freshwater lake in North East India. The lake is also famous for the world’s only floating national park. This lake is located in my hometown and I regularly go there and catch fishes and then sell it in Imphal.
Apart from that I also sell pakoras and this helps me in paying my rent among other stuff.
Family support when fighting
7.) As a female fighter, do you have the support of your family when fighting?
Initially, my parents didn’t support me in my endeavors and they used to tell me that I shouldn’t be fighting because I am a girl and what will happen if something happens to my face or if anything happens to my body.
But that didn’t bother me and initially, I used to lie to my parents about training, but as I started racking up medals and in a state kickboxing tournament I won a gold medal and the best fighter award. Following this, my parents started supporting me as well.
8.) Where do you see yourself in the next five years? What do you wish to accomplish as a Mixed Martial Artist?
I pray every day in the hopes of getting a call from bigger promotions from other states around India so that I get to show them my fighting skills and test myself against a higher level of opponents. In next few years, I aim to compete at ONE Championship as well.
9.) Is there a particular MMA fighter that you look up to?
Yeah amongst male fighters, I like Joshua Pacio from ONE Championship and Conor McGregor in the UFC.
I like to see Angela Lee and Ronda Rousey amongst female fighters. When I am fighting, I try to emulate Angela Lee’s technique inside the cage. I watch her fights on youtube and take pointers from that.