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The Best is Yet to Come: The Story of Nelson Paes and his vision for MMA in Goa

LockerRoom Team
06 September 2020

The youngest amongst three sisters, he grew up in an abundantly beautiful village called Tivim, Goa. It has been a long and arduous journey since then; today he is one of the most sought after personal trainers in the country. We are talking about the Goan Prodigy - Nelson Paes!!

Growing up with a dream:

He spent a childhood filled with sports and outdoor activities, also the fact that Nelson being a boarder at the renowned Monte De Guirim School, Football and Hockey was a way of life. With a smile on his face, he says “growing up was tough, I was a naughty kid, but boarding school taught me a lot!! It instilled discipline in me; I played a lot of Football and Hockey as a kid and went on to represent Goa a few times as well. I knew right then, that there is no substitute for hard work. I was fully focused on representing the country.”

Growing up in a country where Cricket is a religion, professional Football and Hockey had seldom any takers, there wasn’t much of a buzz, and tournaments in Goa didn’t fetch a purse heavy enough to keep the family going.

Getting stuck in the corporate world:

That was when he made the decision to leave his beloved birthplace Goa! and headed to Pune, chasing his dreams. At that point, Pune was on its way to becoming the next Mumbai.

Nelson recalls “I came to Pune and took up a Tech Support job in one of the IT companies. Being away from sports was very difficult, but times were tough for us at that time. I got stuck in this never-ending muck of emails, calls, meetings, and working night shifts, etc. I wasn’t very happy with it.”

Whilst his childhood was spent playing sports and aiming to represent the country, Nelson had to make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of family, giving up all that he had worked hard for over the years.

Looking at his career timeline, one might wonder how he landed up doing what he did. “I knew that I was much more than just this night shift corporate life. I even finished a full blown merchant navy course and then faced rejection there as well because I am color blind. Before I knew it I was back in Pune, back to that same corporate grind. After a couple of years, a friend introduced me to Muay Thai - it was like love at first sight! After training for a while in Pune under Ismael Haji I felt a true connection to the sport. I went to train in other disciplines like Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I knew this was my calling” said Nelson.

The Major Leap:

This newfound passion triggered another major decision - Nelson decided to quit his job and pursue fights full time. Super Fight League was recruiting fighters and had set up boot camp at Nashik, Nelson decided to put himself to the test!

He lost the fight but finished in the top 10. Nelson tells us that “Although it caused a lot of anguish, this was sort of a litmus test for me, I immediately identified where I stood amongst the top fighters in India. Due to a dearth of trainers in Pune, I chose to move back to Goa and started training Muay Thai under the renowned Edgar Noordanus. I also wanted to improve a lot on my Boxing and enrolled with Fabrizio Petroni for that.”

By this time there was a lot of talk about this young fighter from Goa, while this happened along came CCF (Combat Cage Fight), victories under the promotion proved to be vital for him. Nelson while recalling those fond memories told us “CCF approached me for a fight - at that point in time I was training every day because I knew that I had to stay ready. I took up the fights, it was a couple of hard-fought knockouts and I was back on the MMA map in the country. These victories provided the stepping stone for me in fulfilling my boyhood dream of representing my country. I went on to represent India at promotions like BRAVE CF, Phoenix and Kumite1 to name a few. I also beat some really tough fighters like Khudoum Al Kaabi in the UAE, it was a very proud moment for me. I fought in Thailand too, winning via a knockout again!”

Giving back to the community and his vision: 

Nelson did not stop there, he continued fighting, but he also wanted to give back to the community and started Nelson Paes MMA, where he trained children and adults in this holy art. Within no time he had a packed schedule, such was his training that he had students performing extremely well at fight promotions across the country. Like Nelson, some of his students went on to represent the state at multiple events winning major laurels as well. In the long run, Nelson hopes to produce MMA fighters from the state who could go on to conquer the World of MMA.  

While everything was going really great in terms of his fight career and his gym - the world was suddenly hit by the pandemic, things took a downward turn once again for Nelson.

Fights were canceled, he even had to shut down the gym. Nelson had to improvise - telling us a little more about what he is currently doing he says, “I had to come up with a solution to the problem. As the gym was shut, I started personal training, initially over video calls. I focused on creating a life-like experience and came up with micro attention methods for each of the clients. I gave special attention to their issues and provided immediate and workable solutions. Today I cater to a very large client base all around the country. This wasn’t easy, it was a combination of in-depth planning, client health data, robust processes, and of course an undying desire for client success.”

Nelson further went on to say that, “In spite of all of the hurdles that life has put in my path, I always believed in my strengths and continuously worked hard at improving them. Today I live to impart similar processes and mindsets in my clients and students. I know that being ready is the key to success and training every day is one of the best ways to stay ready.”

Nelson believes that his best is yet to come; he still feels that hunger, that fire in his belly still burns as hot as it was 10 years ago!!


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