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The Debut Diary, by Jamal Asskoumi; A Self Chronicle of a young man’s Fighting Debut (w/ Video)
Special thanks to Jazz Singh Gill for bringing this story to MMA Opinion, and to Jamal for sharing- ed.
Ever wanted to know what it is like to take the step from being just another kid training to pro fighting?
Chances are, every fight fan has fought before. Maybe a few scraps as a kid, punch ups as a teenager, brawls as a young man/woman, sparring at a local gym perhaps.
Despite that, we all recognise how very, very different it is to do it professionally. It is not like any other sport where you may get 90 minutes or three sets to do your thing. In fighting, one mistake and it could be all over very quickly and very painfully.
Therefore, for the millions of us that watch it, love it, train it and practice it, only a few ever decide to take it all the way and test ourselves in the real thing. And for this reason, many of us often wonder what is going through the heads of those that choose to do it.
Uniquely, one fighter decided to share those thoughts. Just 18 years old, West London student Jamal Asskoumi has been training at Beast Fight Team in Southall for two and a half years. After dozens of rounds of sparring, with encouragement from his coaches – brothers Lak and Sandeep Singh Sekhon – Jamal decided to step into the cage and do the real thing.
Here Jamal shares his thoughts on his journey into the fight world;
I was never fond of the cliché “cage fighter” and I never really had any inclination to be known as one. However I saw mixed martial arts and cage fighting as two separate entities, with the latter of the two being a cheap marketing campaign used by promoters. I consider myself a martial artist.
This aside, being a regular practitioner of MMA gave me a burning desire to compete, to test my skills. I wanted the glory of winning a bout. And I felt as though I was ready.
In regards to my readiness for a fight, this is something completely subjective. Declaring myself ready for this level was a cerebral decision, rather than something that I felt I had already intrinsically proven. If you are mentally ready, you are ready and I felt just training with the calibre of coaches and sparring partners that I have been left me with the mindset “if I can spar here, I can fight anywhere”.
Although most would assume that “fight day” would be engulfed with anxiety and agitation, I awoke the complete opposite. Unusually calm, relaxed and somewhat nonchalant about the whole situation, I waited until it was time to make our way to the venue. The hours seemed to drag. When the time came to leave the journey to our destination was filled with laughter, jokes and just general cheerfulness, keeping me in my relaxed state. The idea that I was going to fight that night seemed distant.
Upon arriving, we were met by a rules meeting where fighters and coaches were informed of the guidelines for each bout. As I was fighting K-1 a separate meeting was held where I stood inches away from my opponent. The referee explaining the rules became a mumbling blur as my mind could only focus on my opponent whom I would be standing across the cage from in a matter of hours.
After a quick medical examination we made our way to the changing room, decorated with chairs surrounding the perimeter of the room and a small blue mat in the centre used for the fighters warm up. This changing room is where we would remain for the majority of the night, serving as a sort of sanctuary from the hostility that was surrounding the ring. As the other fighters who would be sharing the changing room began to enter, the room became loud with the sound of talk from all, with each person sharing the common interest of fighting.
The merry atmosphere began to fade as fighters from our changing room began to prepare themselves for the altercation that was to come. The warm ups began and a mist of intensity submerged the room. Fighters began to leave and return, some victorious, others with losses under their belt. Regardless, they had done what most would never do, which in itself is an achievement.
Getting in Fight Mode
A fellow teammate of mine was also competing on the card; I watched his fight anxiously from the changing room, reacting to every shot landed as the rest of the room sat in silent preparation. He lost. Seeing him lose a hard fought decision lit a fire under me, not a feeling of revenge just the statement “I will not let the same happen to me”. Having never experience a team mate lose a bout, I was unsure how to face the situation, in the end silence seemed to be the best answer.
It came time for me to warm up. By this point I was enraged, unable to stay still, pacing the length of the changing room back and forth. My name was called and we made our way down to the cage. During the walk to the cage my mind became thoughtless other than, the three last pieces of instruction from my coach; jab, be first and venom. They played over in my mind on loop similar to a mantra. Stepping in the cage the door locked behind me, I was ready for anything that my opponent could offer.
View Jamal’s debut in full here:
Post fight, as most competitors will tell you it is almost impossible to recall the fight, I myself can only remember flashes from the bout, even though it was only a six minute period of my life. It was not the technical fight I was looking for, not in the slightest, in fact it became a real “barn burner” (according to the commentator of the show), with both my opponent and I trading shots and looking to take one anothers’ head off. After two fast paced rounds, the doctor was called upon in the third for my opponent, who was then deemed unable to continue. I had won. I was victorious in a fight which many spectators had given the title; fight of the night. Only one word could describe the emotion that was to follow; elation.
Most fighters compete for the rush, or to be the best, or even to genuinely see if they are better than their opponent. I on the other hand do not. After feeling the euphoria following the match being stopped, I realised why I want to compete. The glory. It becomes a sort of narcotic, where you metamorphose into a state of frustration until your next fix. And I definitely want another hit!
Fighting will always be a passion of mine, but continuing to train and improve is my priority and unceasingly will be.
Jamal Asskoumi is not just a fighter but also an up-coming writer and proponent of fighter’s welfare. With this mind, Jamal has set up a site dedicated to helping fighter’s find sponsors. In this unforgiving, hard sport, it is a necessity to make the most out of every opportunity to further your career and make the most of your talent. So please take the time to check out the site and show your support.