When Gurdarshan “Saint Lion” Mangat steps into the cage at ONE: MASTERS OF DESTINY tonight in Kuala Lumpur, he’ll be carrying not only his own hopes and dreams but the inspiration and strength of his Indian people on his shoulders.
Mangat is on a mission not simply for himself, but to help expose his compatriots to the joys of martial arts and prove that the warrior spirit that inherently exists within them is still alive, well, and waiting to be drawn from.
“I’m a voice for over 1.4 billion people,” says Mangat. “We are from a warrior culture, but little did we realize how much of the DNA has passed on.”
The 32-year-old has done plenty of his own research into the topic since he decided to forego his high-paying and hard-earned job as a top accountant to chase the often arduous and insecure dream of becoming a martial artist, and what he found has only further reinforced that he’s now on the path he should be.
“I’m very close to my Indian heritage. We have trained in martial arts since the 1700s,” Mangat explains. “We have the heart of a lion. My middle name is Singh, that means Lion. It’s what gives me the courage to go into the cage.”
“There was a time when 100 soldiers fought 100,000 soldiers. I look at that background and I see there’s no reason to be afraid,” he continued.
Such belief spells danger for Indonesia’s Abro Fernandes, who will be his opponent in the Malaysian capital.
Fresh off an emphatic third round knockout win over Toni Tauru in the same city a mere four months ago in his promotional debut, Mangat is riding a wave of momentum that’s seen him a four-match win streak.
Equally adept at the striking and ground game with five finishes apiece via submission and knockout respectively, Mangat is a dangerous proposition for any flyweight as he looks to work his way up the division’s rankings and, ultimately, into the title picture.
“This is something I want to pursue and I’m going to put everything into it, and that’s what I want to leave as an impression for everyone watching.”
Mangat’s clash with Fernandes is one of a handful of blockbuster bouts on offer at Axiata Arena, including a ONE Featherweight World Grand Prix quarterfinal between Giorgio Petrosyan and Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy, and the return of Angela Lee against Michelle Nicolini.