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Semi-Pro Boxer Mathusan Mahindas Wants To Become The First Tamil Professional Boxing Champion And Inspire Future Generations of Athletes
"At first my family was very worried. For my first fight, I had to get my mom to sign a waiver as I was under 18. I promised her that I would only have one fight and never fight again. After she signed that waiver, I went on to have an 80+ fight amateur career. "
Ara Ehamparam
Co-founder & Podcast Host ("The Tamil Creator")
Canada
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How did you get into the world of professional boxing which includes both competing yourself and also training other boxers?

It all started when I was about 15-years-old. My older cousin showed me a TV show about the sport of boxing. It was about a high school student who was bullied and picked up the sport of boxing. I was fascinated about the story and felt that boxing could be for me. I then started to take boxing classes twice a week for a year, which led to me developing a passion for the sport, and began fighting. I joined Gideon Boxing Academy where my coach Horace Hunter taught me how to box and started my amateur boxing career. We slowly built up my experience in the sport up until this point, where I am now ready to take the dive into the professional ranks. I recently won my first professional fight in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

How did your family feel about you getting into boxing, which is a very physical sport where serious injury (including brain injury) is possible?

At first my family was very worried. For my first fight, I had to get my mom to sign a waiver as I was under 18. I promised her that I would only have one fight and never fight again. After she signed that waiver, I went on to have an 80+ fight amateur career.

I feel like I slowly won my family over because they saw the amount of discipline and passion I had towards the sport. They heard from other parents and coaches that I was progressing very well in the sport, so they slowly understood that I had a gift. Also, during my entire amateur boxing career, I continued to pursue my education as well, graduating from the University of Toronto in Finance. I think because I was in school while doing boxing, they were a little warmer to the idea.

What was the moment or maybe it was a specific fight where you knew that boxing was something that you could potentially pursue professionally to some degree?

I realized I could become a professional, when I started sparring and fighting other high-performance athletes. I performed extremely well against them, while being a person who started the sport late, still had to work, still had to go to school and did not have as much resources or support as they did. So, I knew if I continued to build upon what I was doing, I would get to a position where I can potentially surpass all of them.

What does your typical week look like with your full-time job as an underwriter, training yourself and training others?

Weekdays

  • 7:30 AM: Wake up and do Strength/Conditioning/Airdyne/Running
  • 8:30AM: Eat Breakfast
  • 9AM: Start Work
  • 1PM: Eat Lunch
  • 5PM: Finish Work and have a small snack
  • 5:30PM: Arrive to the Boxing Gym to Warm up, Train, Spar, etc.
  • 9:00PM: Leave the Boxing Gym
  • 9:30PM: Unwind, Talk to Friends/Family 
  • 11:00PM: In bed to sleep for the next day

Weekends

Much more relaxing as I do not have work on the weekends. Usually, my weekend is more appointment based as I set up my own clients and training times.

Speaking to others who train to be professional athletes, it’s extremely time-consuming.  How do you balance your personal pursuits (ie. friendships, family, etc) with this?

It is extremely hard to balance all the personal relationships with friends and family. I find this to be the most difficult thing to do in my life. I am grateful to have such understanding people in my life who know that I must prioritize my craft. 

I balance my personal pursuits by keeping the end of my weekdays and weekends more open to spend time with them.

What’s been a failure (or “learning lesson”) you’ve experienced in the last 3 years in the boxing world?

I feel any fight that I had lost in the last 3 years is due to not having the best frame of mind. I have learned that against the top opposition, you must bring a strong mentality alongside strong physicality to win. I have since learned ways to enter fights with a better state of mind through meditation and mental exercises.

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If you were to look forward 5 years, would you continue down the path of balancing your underwriter career and your roles in boxing, or focus on one path?

I plan on focusing more on the path of boxing. At the time being, to help support my family I need to balance both. But as soon as I get to the point in boxing where I need to solely focus on that, then I will be making the switch.

What do you do outside of work for fun (outside of boxing)?

I listen to a few podcasts, read manga and watch movies. I try to keep my fun stuff not too active as I need to save my energy for the time in training.

What is an insecurity you have?

I think I give too much thought about what others think of me. This insecurity used to be a lot worse when I was younger. But I have become a lot better with this and realize that at the end of the day, the only opinions that really matter is my mother and I.

In terms of your personal legacy, in a few sentences, describe how you want to be remembered by your family and friends?

I want to be remembered as the first Tamil professional boxing champion. Being remembered as a hard-working individual is very important to me as well. I feel everyone already knows me for being a stand-up individual.

What do you think you would tell 16-year Mathusan looking back?

I would tell 16-year-old Mathusan to continue doing what you are doing and do not worry about what others think or say. It is a waste of energy to dwell on the things out of your control, so spend all your energy on the things you can control.

What is your favourite book(s) you’ve read recently and why?

To be honest I do not read many books, however I do keep with 2 ongoing Japanese Manga. I have been keeping up with these for over 15+ years. Manga such as Naruto and Hajime no Ippo.

These two mangas are both about the story of the underdog, which I feel resonates with me. Also seeing the growth of the characters in these 2 mangas, are parallels to the growth that I have been seeing in myself while in the pursuit of the sport of boxing. 

What is a new belief, behaviour or habit that has most improved your life?

I have over the last 6 months worked with a Nutritionist (Quinton Nurse of Araya Health).

My change in diet has helped me tremendously. I have more energy, lost weight, feel better in fights and overall, in life. I wish I made this change sooner in my life to reap the benefits earlier.

If you were given $1 billion, how would you allocate the money to change the world?

I would use the entire $1 billion towards schools and helping child workers in less fortunate areas. It feels so wrong that just because a child is born into an impoverished place (which they have no control over), they will have so many opportunities stripped away from them. While in Mexico for my pro debut I saw child workers for the first time. I felt sick to my stomach that a 6-year-old child is on the side of the street selling food alone, instead of being in school learning or playing with his friends.

How has the Toronto Tamil community impacted you both personally and professionally? 

I feel the Toronto Tamil community has taught me to be tough and loving at the same time. I see several Toronto Tamil Families with blue collar working parents struggling to make ends meet to provide the best situation possible for their children. I understand that my parents work extremely hard to provide the best for my brothers and I. They even go as far as taking less from their own personal lives, so that we could live more comfortably. Now, I feel the same obligation to make sacrifices and pass down the best situation possible to the next generation of youth.

I feel their tough blue-collar demeanor has hardened me as well, which allows me to be so focused to my training regime and staying disciplined for such as long period of time.

What is your favourite Tamil food (meal or dessert)?

My favourite Tamil food is my Mom’s thosai and sambal. But only the way my Mom makes it, she makes it with a soft top and very slightly crispy bottom. When she’s making them fresh off the pan, I will sit there and eat 20+. Only when I am not making weight for a fight.  :)

What is your favourite Tamil movie?

My favourite Tamil movie is Padayappa. I’ve rewatched that movie so many times as a kid.

What does Tamil culture mean to you?

Tamil culture is to me, is how our people express themselves. I feel our people are extremely artistic. A lot of the things we flourish in, is connected to the arts such as Language, Music, Dance, Theatre, Film etc.  This artistic approach is what helps us shine in other aspects as well. Our people are so creative that it blends into things like Sports, Technology, Science, so now we are rising in these fields as well. 

I feel my Tamil roots is the reason why seeing the sport of boxing within an art form medium (TV show), is what led me to this sport.

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Ara Ehamparam
Co-founder & Podcast Host ("The Tamil Creator") | TamilCulture.com
Canada
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