Jojo Rajkumari is the youngest among three siblings Credit: EastMojo image

Imphal: The lone woman MMA fighter from Manipur, Jojo Rajkumari, is not your usual next-door 23-year-old girl. This young sportswoman is already training hard to achieve her goal in the next five years, to bring laurels and accolades to the state and the country.

Born to RK Biren, a driver, and Bideshsani of Moirang in Bishnupur district, Jojo has known hardship from an early age, as she used to help her mother who sells clothes and runs a hotel in the locality.

Despite all that, she got trained in kickboxing from an early age. Jojo was a stranger to mixed martial arts (MMA) until she was discovered by her coach, Nandeibam Frank Mangang.

In 2017, Coach Frank, who runs Kanglei Mixed Martial Arts Club at Singjamei Chingamakha in Imphal West, came across Jojo’s video practising kickboxing using sandbag in a banana grove.

“In 2017, we were planning to organise a fight league for the first time in the state called ‘MMA Championship Manipur’. We have lots of male fighters, but we were looking for female fighters as well. At that time, I came across Jojo’s videos of kicking and punching on her Facebook page. So I connected with her, asking if she was interested in playing for MMA. That time she wasn’t aware of the nature of the game,” Coach Frank told EastMojo.

The coach, however, is not satisfied with the level she is at now. “I am hoping for the best and training her harder only to put her on a higher level. As a trainer, I can’t be content right now with the level she is at because if she practices harder, she will definitely achieve the target in days to come,” said Frank.

After meeting Coach Frank, there has been no turning back for Jojo, as she continues to practise harder and win medals in the game. So far, out of the three championships she fought, Jojo has had two wins in MMA.

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Jojo along with her Support Group in Imphal

“In 2017, I couldn’t win any medal since I was very new in the game. But I won two gold medals at the Manipur MMA-Chainaba-1 in 2018 and Chainaba-2 in 2019,” said Jojo, the youngest of the three siblings.

For now, Jojo is focusing on winning more medals at the national level. “My aim is to become champion at an international-level tournament,” she said.

Life has not been simple or easy for this young woman athlete. She juggles between surviving and pursuing her dreams in sports. To support herself, she sells fish and clothing in the neighbourhood.

Fortunately now, however, support has poured in for Jojo to be able to focus solely on her training, and it’s thanks to groups like the Guardian Group, Jojo Support Group and the 13 Dogra Regiment.

The 13 Dogra Regiment is covering the monthly expenses of Jojo’s diet for a year, apart from providing sports kits to her.

Speaking at the felicitation programme for Jojo in Imphal recently, the 13 Dogra Regiment CO Colonel Abhinav Kulshrestha said that with proper training, diet and necessary support, MMA woman fighter Jojo can reach global area and win prestigious titles.

Colonel Kulshrestha also appealed the private companies to support deserving sportsperson in the state through corporate social responsibility (CSR).

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