Mixed martial arts is a genre of sports yet to catch on in Goa, much the same as rapping. The two have their own space elsewhere but are yet to gain a following in Goa. However, it does not obscure Bonny Van Oortmerssen nee Sinary’s vision of giving the sport its due.
“Kickboxing is about learning how to harness the power of bodies. There is a depth in the study of the sport which ultimately aims at getting rid of aggression from one’s body through this form of sport,” professes Bonny who won the European title of International Sports Kickboxing Association (ISKA) in the USA when she was 35.
Bonny is a South African who travelled to live with her mother in England when she was 25. “I played basketball in South Africa. I won the Students Games gold medal in South Africa but switched to kickboxing in the UK,” she says.
“I was angry inside before I started this sport. I used to experience a lot of pain, and I later realised that martial arts gave me an opportunity to release this negative energy. This sport brought a sort of mental balance in my life,” admits Bonny, as she tries to explain the value mixed martial arts can add to one’s life.
“The more one learns how to fight, the less dangerous a person becomes. It actually teaches you to never fight,” says Bonny with a smile that sketches another aspect of mixed martial arts.
Bonny has set up a mixed martial arts centre in Anjuna, which is padded with a gym and a caged ring where contestants compete with each other under her guidance.
“Fighters participate in a cage, and it is called that because it looks like a cage. It is made in such a way as to protect fighters from falling off,” explains Bonny.
Mixed martial arts is still not an Olympic sport, but Bonny believes a day will dawn when the sport will feature in the Olympics.
“At the moment, we are trying to facilitate a fight career. We need to get investors; we need to create an audience that will be interested in paying to come to watch fights; we need to make ways through which fighters can look at the sport as a career option before we grow in Goa and India,” claims Bonny on whom the responsibility of setting up the Indian Kickboxing Organisation has been laid by the World Kickboxing Organisation.
Mixed martial arts, wrestling or kickboxing is looked at by many as entertainment rather than a sport with links to the world of betting like many other sports are today.
“I was recently asked to be involved with MMA fights. After being persuaded, I agreed to be a consultant and went to attend the first meeting wherein I was directly asked whether I could fix matches. I walked away from the meeting,” confessed Bonny.
“There is fixing in any sport where money is involved, and it has to be dealt with when it happens,” opined Bonny, who is married to a Goan.
“I came to India in 2012 for six months to recover from an injury I had sustained during a kickboxing fight in the USA. Now I think it was my destiny that brought me here because I ended up finding my love and making a family here in Goa,” says Bonny, as she begins preparations to organise her 9th MMA fight in Anjuna on December 16 and 17.
“I came to India for a different reason, but after some time, I started thinking about how I could make a living here. Everything changes in life. Change is a constant. We should not be alarmed about it. We should accept it as part of life,” thinks Bonny, who is one of the few ladies in India to have a mixed martial arts set up under her belt and surely the first in Goa.