For the latest edition of the NE athlete profile, we reached out to Jims Samjetsabam.
Earlier this 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.
The North-Eastern region of India, in general, has seen a rapid rise in the growth of MMA. It’s no surprise, the region even though far off from the National capital, the region is constantly churning out quality MMA fighters.
24-year old Jims Samjetsabam hails from Imphal and after turning professional in 2017, he has compiled a pro-MMA record of 3-0. Jims Samjetsabam also has a highly decorated Muay Thai and Wrestling background. The Manipur based fighter has competed in three weight classes (57 kg, 60kg and 63.5 kg)
Rupendra Sharma, a local businessman from Imphal and an MMA enthusiast helped us in getting in touch with Jims and occasional translation.
1.) How did you get started in Martial Arts and tell us about your accolades?
My martial arts career began as a Muay Thai student in 2005. Master Thoiba introduced me to the sport and guided me for a long time. Over the years, I have managed to win medals in a lot of tournaments before.
A.) National Muay Thai Championship held in Jammu Kashmir in 2010 – Gold
B.) National Muay Thai Championship held in Hyderabad in 2011 – Bronze
C.) National Muay Thai Championship held in Tamil Nadu in 2012 – Gold
D.) National Muay Thai Challenger Cup held in Manipur in 2012 – Silver
E.) National Muay Thai Challenger Cup held in Manipur in 2013 – Silver
F.) India National Muay Thai and Muay Boran Championship in 2017 – Bronze
2.) You also have a terrific wrestling background, tell us something about that?
After competing as an amateur Muay Thai fighter, I decided to turn to Mixed Martial Arts. I joined KMMAC under Sir Frank who has been guiding me very well. After joining the KMMAC gym, I also decided to improve my ground game since Wrestling is an important aspect of MMA.
So in January of 2018, I joined a Wrestling camp and within a year I won a Gold medal at state level wrestling championship. I also went for the 63rd Senior National Wrestling Championship held in Uttar Pradesh, but I wasn’t able to secure a medal there. I want to point out that, I started wrestling a year after making my professional MMA debut.
3.) How was your transition to MMA from Muay Thai?
It was a fairly easy one for me as I already come from an extensive striking background. There were things that I needed to improve upon like grappling and my ground game. I joined a wrestling camp and that helped me tremendously to improve as an MMA fighter.
4.) You mentioned that you won a gold medal at state level Wrestling championship within a year that you started training? Did you ever think about continuing your career as a wrestler and try and compete at the highest level of the sport i.e Olympics?
No, not really, It wasn’t very good for me. I only went into wrestling to get a sample of the sport and improve upon the deficiencies I had as an MMA fighter.
5.) Tell our readers something about your toughest fight to date?
As far as MMA is concerned I haven’t had a tough fight yet. However, I will tell you about a fight I had as a Muay Thai fighter. I fought thrice that day in an MBAI championship in Shillong. In this tournament, I had to compete twice as an amateur and a professional. I lost my first amateur bout but went on to win second amateur bout. In the professional Muay Thai bout, I had to suffer a loss.
6.) Tell me something about your coaching? Are you satisfied with the level of MMA training you’re getting in Manipur?
I am currently training at KMMAC in Imphal under Sir Frank. I have been training MMA under him since 2017. While the striking aspect of my fighting is good, there is a lack of proper training for Jiu-Jitsu. So I feel I may have to travel to someplace else for a proper gym for grappling.
I will be applying for ONE championship tryouts as well. It would be great if I can make it, otherwise, I will travel to Bangkok or Singapore to train full-time.
7.) Do you have a side job apart from MMA? How do you manage your time juggling training and your job?
I work as a computer operator in Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal. My job timing is from 10 am to 4 pm, so after that I go for my Muay Thai training and train till 8:30 pm.
There are also some issues in managing my time in between fighting and my job. I have previously gotten numerous offers to compete nationally, but I wasn’t able to get leave from my job to compete in those events.
However, now I have been thinking that, if I get a better opportunity as an MMA fighter, I will simply leave my job. I will go for ONE Championship tryouts like Roshan Maiman and hopefully make it into the big leagues.
8.) Does your family support you in your aspirations to continue your career in Mixed Martial Arts and Pro Muay Thai?
My family members don’t like fighting. Previously they didn’t support me in what I was doing, but after winning so many medals at the National and state level, they have come around.
9.) You have an extensive background in Muay Thai as well, do you go back and forth between both the sports? Have you competed professionally in Muay Thai?
I can do both and I will choose a sport that provides me with better opportunities. I currently have two professional Muay Thai bouts and I am currently 1-1 in the sport. My loss came in the event in Shillong and it was also by professional Muay Thai debut, whereas I won my second fight in Pro Indian Muay Thai League in 2019 in Mangalore.
10.) Is there a fighter that you look up to?
As a Muay Thai fighter, some of my friends call me small Buakaw because I kind of resemble him when I shave my hair. The thing is I don’t simply get inspired by anybody and apart from Buakaw, I look up to Mike Tyson as well. Like him, I am also short and take on bigger opponents.
Which organizations do you want to see Jims Samjetsabam fighting in?