Superhuman Gym has been a great success in India since partnering up with the Jackson-Wink MMA Academy. Here’s what makes this camp special.
Superhuman Gym is one of the most developed training camps in India. Home to India’s first-ever UFC fighter, Bharat Kandare, the first gym was set up in Mumbai in 2016. The gym, by the end of 2017, had established itself as one of the best MMA training camps in India. Opening up about the history of the gym, co-founder Somesh Kamra said, “Superhuman was a not a project, it was a dream, of not one, but of many. It was the result of the mixture of various people‘s work, experience, and passion. The gym was conceptualized in the year 2011 with the aim of projecting MMA training as a mode of fitness and converting it to a product for the masses. The idea soon started developing, and after much brainstorming, the entire set-up was created.”
What actually makes Superhuman Gym different from others is its relationship with the Jackson-Wink MMA academy. Home to fighters like Holly Holm and Jon Jones, Jackson-Wink MMA is one of the best MMA training camps in the world. Elaborating on the relations, Kamra explained that “I had been in touch with Jackson-Wink MMA since the UFC fighter development program. After many discussions and meetings, we came to the conclusion that the best thing for the development of Indian fighters was to create a base for them in India. That is what led to the formation of Superhuman-JW.”
“The gym will also be hosting exchange programs in which coaches from Jackson-Wink will come to India,” explained Kamra, “In our tie-up with Jackson-Wink, we will have various exchange programs. Some of our fighters will be going to Jackson-Wink for training. The stay and nutrition of the fighters will be handled by us. Plus, many of their fighters and coaches will be coming to our gym to provide quality coaching and teaching fighters things which no one in India can.” This deal with Jackson-Wink makes Superhuman one of the best gyms in India.
Superhuman recently launched its biggest project ever—Superhuman JW, India’s first fully functioning MMA training camp. The camp is located in Manipal, a town in the South-Western state of Karnataka. Franchise owner and chief investor Ujwal Shetty said, “Manipal is a global city. Located in one of the most prosperous states of India, it is home to the famous Manipal University which currently hosts over 28,000 students. This large population of students makes Manipal an even better choice for a large scale gym from a business point of view.” Adding on Somesh stated “Manipal is also one of the most quiet cities in India. Though a cosmopolitan city, it is home to a large number of students which results in having very few distractions around the camp, making it an ideal place for athletes. Plus, we have access to the Sports Science Department of Manipal University. The university can provide us the equipment required to conduct various strength and conditioning tests, which I doubt any camp in India so far has focused on.”
Superhuman is one of the few Gyms in India which has a legit team of coaches and fighters. The gym presently has a team of 7 fighters, out of which 5 are currently in camp. A team of 2 coaches and 1 manager backed by strong support from the world’s best training camp Jackson Wink, makes up Team Superhuman. The training camp is sponsored by Ujjwal Shetty from the prestigious Shetty business family of Manipal.
“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their growth”-John Whitmore.
An athlete who wishes to find success in any sport, needs a coach. MMA as a sport is way too vast for one person to coach. The striking aspect is handled by one person, grappling by another and the rest of the body requirements by yet another. Gyms in India don’t have many MMA coaches. As the sport isn’t mainstream in India, availability of legit coaches is poses a huge challenge. As of now, Superhuman has two coaches: BJJ purple belt Chaitanya Gavali, and Sports Science graduate from Bangor University, Frank Mapranny. Opening up about his team of coaches, Somesh Kamra said, “We are one of the few gyms in India which actually has a legit set of coaches. Most MMA fighters have their own independent gyms which strictly focus on one aspect of the sport. However, we here at Superhuman focus on all round development. Are we the very best? I don’t know. But can we make you the best? Yes.”
Gavali is one of the most popular Indian MMA fighters today. With experience in over 11 fights in various international promotions, Gavali is one of the few people in India who know what it takes to be a great fighter. Gavali started his career as a judoka and proceeded to make his shift to MMA under the guidance of Jitendra Khare. He proceeded to become the first Indian to win in an international promotion. “Chaitanya is the best in the business. He has seen the sport grow in India right in front of his eyes. He knows what one needs to get to the top. Having him on the team is amazing.”
When asked why he initially joined Superhuman gym, Gavali said, “I was looking for a strength and conditioning coach. I knew I had to work on that aspect of my fitness. When I met Sumeet, he advised working with Frank at Superhuman Gym. So far my experience has been amazing.” The Brave-CF fighter joined Superhuman as a fighter but soon became a coach. “The team was doing great. I joined in as a training partner for Sumeet and soon started coaching him and Priya.” He said. “Coaching is something which I’ve always done. I am one of the few people in India who have had legit BJJ coaching and have been fortunate enough to have got the opportunity to compete in multiple BJJ tournaments. I, at Superhuman gym, have the opportunity to share my knowledge with everyone.” As for the set-up, the BJJ Purple-belt is more than happy. “Most gyms in India use tatami mats for BJJ practice. They are also used in BJJ tournaments, but for practice they aren’t the best mats. While training on Tatami mats, there is a lot of scope for injuries, whereas the mats used in Superhuman are made out of Foam, Eva sheet and wrestling Rexene on top. This makes them safer to practice on.” The gym also has a cage to practice in. It is roughly about the size of TUF octagon. “Many gyms in India have cages but they are rectangle. As far as I know, Superhuman is the first gym to have a proper octagon. It provides better understanding of the game.”
Gavali is still an active fighter. Apart from his coaching job, he plans to continue his fighting career under the Superhuman banner. “For now, I coach and train here. I will be representing India at the 2018 Asian Games in the sport of BJJ. My camp so far has been amazing.”Suffering one loss is bad but going on a losing-streak is by far the worst phase in a fighter’s career. Gavali ended up on this path. He, as of now, is on a 3-fight losing streak. Opening up more about this low phase, Gavali said “Winning and losing is a part of the game. This long period of losing streak does affect me mentally, but I do know that in my next fight I’ll be picking up a win. I am working hard to make sure my next fight is a win.”
That Frank ended up as the best MMA strength and conditioning coach in India is the perfect example of the well-known saying “Life takes you to unexpected places.” A graduate of Psychology from Mumbai University, Frank decided to explore the world of Sports Science. This decision resulted in the beginning of an interesting journey. “I honestly never really followed combat sports or ever thought of becoming a coach. After graduating, I started working with YFC. That was when I met Somesh and learnt about the sport of MMA.”
Frank started working with Superhuman in early 2016. “Bharat was preparing for his Ganryujima fight in 2016 when Frank saw Bharat doing some weight lifting exercise. He pointed out that he wasn’t doing it the right way and corrected his method. One thing led to another, and he became a part of the camp,” said Somesh. Frank slowly and steadily started learning the basics of the sport. “I took over as the head of strength and conditioning of all Superhuman athletes by mid-2016. Back then, we didn’t really have any active fighters, but I continued learning more about the sport.”
Frank went on to join BJJ classes and soon started getting the hang of the game. It was around July 2017 when the MMA scene all of a sudden became very active for Superhuman. “We got the UFC opportunity for the Shanghai card. It was around mid night when Somesh called me and said that Bharat had a UFC fight scheduled. At first, I couldn’t believe him but when he gave the name of the opponent and weight class, I realized that this was genuine serious business.” Bharat’s performance at UFC Shanghai has been closely scrutinized by the Indian MMA community. For a long time, people have been commenting on the camp. “It was the first time we had an actual UFC camp solely based out of India. We wanted Bharat to go to Thailand for his fight camp but his VISA got rejected. We barely had any time for a proper training camp. Under such circumstances, the pressure on the team as whole increased by manifolds. We did what we knew best,” said Frank.
With no time to gather resources, the team started working on minor changes that could be brought in. “Combat training isn’t something I work on. Strength and conditioning was focused upon followed by weight cutting.” That was when Bharat’s camp suffered another serious blow. Somesh said, “I got the message from the UFC that Bharat’s opponent was out, and we were getting a short-term replacement at a higher weight-class. It was up to Bharat if he wanted to take the fight. Bharat didn’t even blink once before saying yes.” The move was commendable but that simply rescheduled everything in the camp.
“We were at around 68Kg when we got the call. The fight had moved from 61 to 66 Kg. We rescheduled many things and started working on what should we expect from the opponent, who was coming with a backing from a strong camp.” Frank added. “Our performance was not the best but under the given circumstances, I guess it was great.”
Post the UFC, Team Superhuman needed a win. That was when Frank worked his magic. Sumeet Khade was coming off a disappointing performance in 2017 as his sole appearance in the SFL season 1 was a loss. He needed a win in season 2, it was necessary both for his and the gym’s reputation. “Sumeet had to work on his strength. After our UFC performance, I contacted my fellow sports phycologist who trains MMA fighters’ strength and conditioning coaches and exchanged notes to help . After that brush up, I created a program for Sumeet for his upcoming league. We focused on various factors like, his explosiveness and the power he could generate on ground. Certain parts of his body, like hip, were focused on.” The result turned out to be amazing. Sumeet went on to win 3 straight bouts, out of which 2 were knockouts.
Commenting on Frank’s success with the team, Gym co-owner Somesh said, “Most gyms in India go for rough techniques in the name of strength and conditioning, they don’t realize that it is an important part of a fighter’s life. The addition of someone like Frank in the team has given us results way better than our expectations.”
And now the most important part of the MMA team: fighters. They are the ones who run the structure of the gym and are the ones because of whom the structure exists in the first place. At the present moment, Superhuman hosts a total of 7 fighters: Bharat Kandare, Sumeet Khade, Pratiush Sharma, Siddharth Chandanshive, Priya Sharma, Javed Mulla and Aditya Katkade. The vastness of the team simply stunned Frank. “Somesh used to always say that one day we will host a team of fighters. The way Indian MMA was going, I doubted that dream could ever become a reality but when I look at our team today, I am more than proud of what we have achieved. Of our 7 fighters, 5 are actively fighting.”
As it turns out, Frank wasn’t the only one who couldn’t believe this. “When I started building team Superhuman, no one would believe that someday there can be a gym which provides almost everything and has a fully functioning MMA team. Most sponsors backed off when they were approached. However, to be honest, you need to earn support. The way the team has grown, the support we have received and the performance by our athletes has clearly proven that we are an organization worth supporting.”
At the present moment, Khade, Kandare, and Priya are active in their respective camps. Khade is preparing for an upcoming unannounced fight, Priya for BJJ tournament and a future ONE FC fight, Kandare for his UFC fight at UFC 227, and Gavli is getting ready for a BJJ fight.
Khade started his fighting career by first training in Karate before making his switch to Kickboxing. He finally made his switch to MMA in the year 2012. In fact, Khade is from the first batch of Super Fight League fighters. After creating a record of 6-1, he signed with Superhuman in 2015. The crash of MMA market in India during 2014-16 affected many people, particularly SFL fighters. That is around the time when Khade signed with Superhuman. “I signed with team Superhuman because they were giving me new opportunities. I had the chance to go and train in the Jackson-Wink gym. That was when I signed with the management.”
However, it was not until 2017 that Khade actually had his training camp in Superhuman. “I used to train on my own with some of my friends. It was after some time that I realized I needed better coaching. I started working with Chaitanya, who back then wasn’t with Superhuman, and Frank. Frank worked on my strength and conditioning, a part of the training which I in the past had not paid much attention to. The result turned out to be amazing.”
Khade entered 2018, on a two fight losing streak. He had already been warned that this was his last chance in the league. If he lost he most probably wouldn’t be signed again. “We had been working on his explosiveness. We knew he had strength in his kicks, it just had to be worked upon,” says Kamra. The program designed by Frank produced great results in the 2018 season of SFL. Khade went on to win 3 fights in the league, out of which 2 came via knockout. One of his knockouts even went wild on social media.
Khade was scheduled to fight in the Russian promotion ACB. However, there was some change of plan and as of now, Khade doesn’t have any opponent. Khade is currently in an active camp waiting to capitalize on a short-noticed opportunity.
Kandare is one of the most popular Indian MMA fighters. Having started his career way back during the Gym Wars days, he gained prominence after having a dominant run in the SFL. He, in fact, even became the featherweight champion of the promotion. Having made a record of 5-1, he signed up with team Superhuman.
In 2016, Bharat got his first international breakthrough. He competed in the Ganryujima, Japan under the Superhuman banner. That is when he started working with Frank. “Frank corrected him in many positions and started working on his conditioning. The camp was under his guidance and program,” says Somesh.
Bharat went on to win in a stunning manner when he KO’ed local champion Kazuhisa Watanabe in a stunning record time of 22 seconds. Kandare then went to train in Jackson-Wink MMA as a part of UFC fighter development program. His return to MMA was much awaited; when he announced that he would be competing on the Brave 5 card, people got excited. It was unfortunate that he lost, but not many knew that he had suffered a knee injury prior to the match.
Kandare got his first major break in late 2017, when he got a short-notice UFC fight. The fight didn’t produce desired results but Kandare didn’t let that pull him down. At the present moment, Kandare has begun a new chapter not only in his life but also in the history of Indian MMA. He competes against the very best in the world. This historic new high has started with an all time low but team Superhuman is confident that Kandare will bounce back in a way no one can predict.
If someone were to go and watch the Super Fight League Challengers show, they would not believe that Priya would someday turn out to be one of the best female MMA fighters in India. Currently the national Champion in BJJ, Priya Sharma is set to make her ONE FC debut later this year.
Sharma started her combat sports career as a Judoka before making an unplanned MMA debut in the year 2012. After her debut, she took a break from fighting and started working. It was 2016, when she finally made her serious switch to MMA.
Since then, she hasn’t looked back. Now standing with an amateur record of 4-1 and a Gold at the National MMA championship, Priya is all set for her Asian Games BJJ championship. Sharma signed with Superhuman in early 2018 and has very recently become an active member of the team. Though new, she feels very comfortable here. “I have never felt better training at any other place. Frank sir is very easy to work with and has helped me a lot in understanding what strength and conditioning is. His exercises have brought in a lot of positive change.”
Priya is going to make her Pro-MMA debut later this year in ONE FC. “After signing with Superhuman, Somesh sir offered me the chance to compete in ONE FC. I was so excited that I said yes. Since then I have been in camp, getting ready for my fight.”