Mohammad Iftekhar Khan, 19, a daily-wage labourer and who makes a living working for a scrap-dealer in Mumbai, will soon represent Maharashtra in the senior national kickboxing championship, set to begin in Kolkata next week.
With neither coach nor training facilities, Khan, who's from UP and into martial arts since 9, trains in a Sikh temple for the lack of a better training ground.
Yet, his preternatural gifts ensured that he bagged a gold and a silver at the junior national kickboxing championship, hosted by the Maharashtra Kickboxing Association, under the flagship of the National Kickboxing Federation, in Pune last year.
He was recently summoned by the World Association of Kickboxing Organization (WAKO) India, confirming his participation at the Kolkata nationals. "I am all set to take on bigger challenges. I have relentlessly trained for over two months for the prestigious event to be held at Salt Lake Stadium's Sports Authority of India boxing ring," Khan told TOI.
As his practice routine, Khan runs a few kilometres and practises his punches and kicks, all alone, for four hours a day.
"I faced a tough time the entire year, but I looked at it as a transition period. With self-training and determination, I have overcome all obstacles to fight back and win medals. When I encounter any problem in technique and improvement, I call up my mentor in Uttar Pradesh for guidance."
Khan used to represent UP under the supervision of his coach Wasim Mohammad in Gajipur, Uttar Pradesh. Earlier, he had won a gold and three silvers in kickboxing nationals for his home state.
"I wish to serve my country as a soldier in the army," said Khan. He's still in search of a guide who can help him earn international medals.