Rashid Salleh is an actor, comedian, sportscaster, journalist and president of the Malaysia Mixed Martial Arts Association (MASMMAA). And he is on a mission to educate the masses about mixed martial arts (MMA) and why it is suitable for schoolchildren.
He shares his take on Fight For Change 2019 scheduled for Nov 23 at Cobra Club, Petaling Jaya.
Co-organised by Twentytwo13 and MASMMAA and supported by the National Press Club of Malaysia (NPC), the event is to change the way people view the sport and to champion the welfare of journalists in Malaysia.
Fight For Change 2019 will see Twentytwo13 co-founder and editor Haresh Deol face professional fighter Shareh ‘The Jeneral’ Nasrullah. Proceeds from the event will be channeled to NPC’s Journalist Welfare Fund and to MASMMAA for its youth development programme.
Twentytwo13: Why did MASMMAA agree to co-organise Fight For Change 2019 with Twentytwo13?
Rashid: The first thing we want to do is to educate the public about amateur mixed martial arts (MMA). A lot of people are used to seeing MMA from the professional point of view, basically what they’ve seen on television. There’s this misconception about how most sports, especially amateur sports, are viewed.
You talk about rugby many years ago. People, especially families, saw it purely as a contact sport. But there are a lot of safety aspects that people weren’t aware of. We took a long time to educate them on that.
Because MMA is such a new sport, we feel we need to educate people about it. Fight For Change 2019 is a good platform for people to see this and view it first hand. We will be able to explain it to them face to face. That is invaluable.
Twentytwo13: What are the other events MASMMAA is lining up?
Rashid: There are some negotiations and planning within the community. We would like to see something like MIMMA (Malaysian Invasion Mixed Martial Arts which was the largest MMA amateur tournament in Malaysia) or some other kind of amateur league, a league young people can take part in. It will be strictly amateur in line with what MASMMAA is about.
I will also look at the youth development side. So hopefully, in the long run, you’ll see MMA in schools.
Twentytwo13: You speak about an amateur youth league. Does this mean no striking to the face?
Rashid: The rules are different for youths and seniors. For youths of a certain age, there’s no striking to the face and even no striking to the body. Some amateur fights allow striking so we will have to see how we progress and what age groups we can have.
Twentytwo13: How else can you spread the move?
Rashid: Apart from Fight For Change 2019, we need to get the word out about MMA especially among youths. As such, content marketing is really important. So we hope to do a series of digital content for people to be able to access and understand what youth MMA is about. That’s very crucial in moving the sport forward.
Twentytwo13: You were also part of the media fraternity. Fight For Change 2019 is more than just about MMA to you.
Rashid: I was part of the sports fraternity as I was once with ESPN and later Astro Arena. We understand what needs to be done and the contribution to the sport. A lot of people don’t understand that without the promotion of the sport by the journalists who write about MMA, the masses won’t know about it. Journalists have contributed a lot to the nation, the well-being of the sport and informing us about our athletes. It is important we contribute back to NPC, not just from the sports side but from every layer of society. Journalists are all human beings as well. We want to give back to those who promoted us.
Twentytwo13: You have been preparing for the “reboot” of the popular television series ‘Kopitiam’ while these preparations are going on. How do you find time to do everything?
Rashid: I come from a very big family so juggling has always been part of my life! I try and make as much time for everyone and everything, but I am very lucky as I have a very understanding family – my wife and kids – and I have a very good team in MASMMAA.
There’s a shared responsibility. I do have to make the important decisions but there’s a lot of discussions and research with everyone before we go ahead with anything.
It’s the same for Fight For Change 2019. Everyone has responsibilities and no one person has too much to do. Everything is shared equally among the team.
The operations are being organised by MASMMAA and the promotion and sponsorships are handled by Twentytwo13. Our friends from the other media are also helping us to promote the event.
It looks like I’m doing a lot but much of the stuff is being done by the team in the background. They make me look good!
Everything is well-organised. It would be good if we had more time but we can only do what we can. At the end of the day, we all want to watch Haresh fight!
Editor’s note: Fight For Change 2019 tickets are being sold at RM50 each. To purchase or to find out more about Fight For Change 2019, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org