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From the rice fields of Manipur to the MMA cage: The Story of Chungreng Koren

Renjith Ravindran
31 July 2020

Currently 2-0 in his professional career, Chungreng Koren is looking forward to making a huge mark in the Indian MMA circuit. He has already tasted success in the amateur MMA circuit having won all his four fights via stoppages but beyond all the records on paper, there is a long story of struggle that has built up Chungreng’s career so far.

Discovering Combat Sports

Hailing from a tribal family in Manipur, Chungreng’s father passed away even before he was born. Chungreng was raised by his mother and he had to do a lot of physical labour from a young age itself to meet the ends.

This, however, did not stop him from venturing into wrestling. He first came across the sport in television and started training alongside his work in the rice fields with which he earned a living.

Chungreng Koren: When I explained to them that my desire for combat sports will eventually provide for my family, they all encouraged me. Also, it wasn’t just a necessity to earn for me, it’s also a passion and it makes me feel alive. Wrestling has always been my passion and now MMA as well.

All the physical labour that he had done during his young age came in handy for wrestling. He started training with whatever facilities that were available to him and ended up making his debut in Manipur Fight League thanks to someone who lent him the money for registration.

Chungreng Koren: My first fight was in Imphal, at Manipur Fight League 2018. Unforgettable memories were when I was praying to God for the entry fee money for that particular tournament, someone provided the needed money, and winning via TKO/KO in my first fight is an unforgettable memory.

The invite from Roshan Mainam and KOI Combat Academy

The formal training of Chungreng started in the KMMAC Gym in Manipur. He, however, wanted to expand his skillset and this is where an invite from Indian MMA star Roshan Mainam came into play.

A friend of Chungreng, Roshan invited his fellow fighter from Manipur to selection trials at KOI Combat Academy in Bangalore. Chungreng passed the hurdle of selection trials in flying colours and eventually was taken in by Roshan and Coach Vishal Seigell who started supporting Chungreng’s career.

A former member of the AJJ – Crawfords MMA team where he trained alongside the likes of Rob Kimmons, Ethan Benda and Curtis Stout among others, Vishal Seigell, shaped up the combat skills of Chungreng at KOI Combat Academy.

It was at this time that Chungreng went on to win all his three fights at the AIMMAF - IHHF National MMA Championship via stoppages.

Chungreng, who was inspired by Indian MMA icon Kario Isaac who is also from Manipur, feels fortunate that he was able to train alongside the likes of Roshan Mainam and Kantharaj Agasa at KOI Combat Academy.

Chungreng Koren: Coach Vishal and Brother Roshan have really helped me and other athletes like me who have come from nothing. We stayed with Coach Vishal and everything was provided for us.

He also feels that Roshan could go on to become a champion one day and pave path for the future generation of fighters in Manipur. Chungren, himself, hopes to follow the footsteps of Isaac and Roshan one day and become a champion.

Professional MMA and family responsibilities  

After his success in Bangalore, Chugreng made his professional debut at WFC in Kerala and here also, he secured a stoppage win which kept his undefeated run in Mixed Martial Arts intact. However, the biggest win of Chungreng’s small career came in Pro Combat Fight League in Haryana when he defeated Afghanistan’s Sayed Firoz.

Chungreng got the stoppage finish despite the last-minute change to his opponent and once again, remained unbeaten and dominant at the same time.

Amidst the success inside the cage, his life took a turn towards the end of 2019 when his brother passed away. The responsibility of the seven-member family is now on his shoulders and though it has cost him chances to compete, he is staying hopeful.

He works at the rice fields and does odd jobs to support his family and balances this with his career inside the cage as well. In the long run, he hopes to turn around his life by succeeding in his MMA career.

Chungreng Koren: I want to provide stability for my family my village my community. Once I am stable in terms of my track record in fighting and financially I want to spread this movement and make more champions inside and outside the ring or cage. I come from very poor backgrounds and I don’t want anyone deserving to miss an opportunity due to that.


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