Persistence plays a pivotal role in life. It is defined as continuing to move on with whatever goal has been planned originally even though an external event or initial losses may have slowed down, or temporarily halt a person while the person is on the way towards achieving their goals.
Moreover, it requires a person to continue keeping their mental attitude positive no matter what happened.
Pakistani martial artist Muhammad “The Spider” Imran had to hold onto his persistence as he found out at an early age that life was never a straightforward pathway.
Despite encountering life’s setbacks, Imran will always remember something his father taught him during his childhood.
“He said: ‘Whatever work you do, do it with honesty and put your heart into it,’” he recollected.
Those wise words were a lesson to the 26-year-old Gujar Khan, Pakistan resident will never forget because he saw his father live by that very message after he was stricken with polio, a disease eventually cost Imran’s father the use of his legs.
“He became handicapped at the age of 16, and he spent the next one to two years at home. But after that, he learned tailoring, and before marriage, he worked as a tailor,” Imran shared.
Sadly, Imran lost his dad after a battle with cancer as in the aftermath of the patriarch’s death, the family’s financial situation was nearly too much to handle. After all, there were eight children to feed, with Imran being the youngest.
“When my father died, we were in a poor condition, but my brothers did manual labor, and we managed,” he remembered. “During these times, our landlord also supported us. Gradually, my brothers were able to make our living conditions better.”
Thanks to his older brothers taking on the brunt of the responsibilities for his family, Imran was able to continue his education.
Moreover, it was also due to one of his elder siblings getting involved in martial arts that he found his true calling.
“My older brother, Muhammad Shahid, used to do martial arts. When I was young, I used to watch him go to the club. But at that time, I was too young,” Imran remembered.
“When I turned ten, he asked me to join his martial arts gym, and I came here to Pakido Martial Arts Club with him. I liked it, so I joined as well,” he added.
As his family was still struggling to keep their heads above water, Imran admitted that he could not afford to pay for the lessons at Pakido Gym.
Fortunately, after seeing the passion he and his brother put into their training, their instructor offered them scholarships to teach them for free.
To this day, Imran bared his teacher at Pakido Martial Arts Club still refuses to charge him for instruction.
“Pakido Gym is like a family,” he said. “Our teacher used to come here every two months from overseas, and spent a lot of money on this. He would set up camps for up to three months just to train us. So, he also made lots of effort.
“Other than that, this place has helped me a lot. Even though I worked hard, I felt that I wanted to become a good martial artist, and this is my reason for becoming an athlete in this field,” he further explained.
Holding a noteworthy win-loss standing of 5-1 with four wins by way of submission, Imran will realize a lifelong dream when he makes his promotional debut in the co-main event of ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE in Jakarta, Indonesia on 20 January.
Imran steps into the ONE Championship cage for the very first time and squares off with undefeated hometown hero Stefer Rahardian, a Carlson Gracie brown belt who splits his training between Bali MMA and Jakarta Muay Thai & MMA.
“He is the best grappler I have ever faced, and he has a brown belt in BJJ. But I am the top grappler in Pakistan. However, I am trying to focus most on my striking, so that if he transitions into grappling I can counter him. Not in grappling, but by standing up and striking. I will say this to Stefer: do not take me lightly. I am a good grappler, just like him. I will give him a good match,” he warned.
While this will be Imran’s maiden appearance in ONE Championship, he is already thinking about his long-term goals and is not afraid to visualize a future where he is getting his hand raised with a gold belt wrapped around his waist.
“All the problems that I have, they do worry me, but my heart is content because of the work I do. This makes me strong, and I stand up against all the problems I face,” he stated.
It might seem like lofty aspirations given it is only his promotional debut, but Imran has learned that all dreams are attainable if you work hard enough to make them come true.
“All the problems that I could not solve, I gave my best to overcome. I try to give my 100 percent to make things better, whether it is training or competing, so that my name as a champion becomes well-known not only in my country, but in the whole world as well,” he ended.