“When I first moved to Kiddy the other kids used to call me ‘Indian In The Cupboard’, it used to make me so angry; it’s the wrong sort of bloody Indian for starters….”
Growing up as a mix of Punjabi Sikh and West Midlands English wasn’t the easiest for the young David Khalsa, especially when the family moved out of Birmingham and into Kidderminster when he and twin brother Michael were children. “We got just as much grief for being Brummies, if I’m honest. We used to fight every day. Michael and our cousin would say to me ‘where are we going today?’. I used to reply ‘to the Horsefair (in the town centre)’ and they’d always groan and say ‘why? We’re just going to get into a fight’; which was true, we always did”.
Maybe it was the Sikh warrior blood in his veins, but Khalsa has always been drawn to fighting. “As a kid I just didn’t channel it properly. I’ve always been a bundle of energy and can’t sit still, everything bored me”. The fighting became more and more a part of life, as did regular interaction with the law, which ended up with some pretty serious trouble.
“I hit a low. I didn’t have any qualifications, I couldn’t hold down a job and I had no focus. I’ve always been a free spirit. If the sun is shining, I want to be out in it, not stuck in a garage or factory or office. That’s when Tashy (David’s long term girlfriend and mother of his children) made me realise that I just had to sort my life out”.
“I walked into Russell Perks’ gym (RPMAA) five years ago and haven’t looked back. Russell has helped me to channel my energy into positivity. Years back people used to avoid me, not now. Now I’m at the gym and everyone supports me and wants to actually talk, it’s humbling. I find it so weird that in the space of a few short years I’ve gone from being bad to being someone who people approach and chat with and that’s all down to the discipline and focus of martial arts”.
So how did David transition from training to competing? “I just went straight for it. I didn’t do any interclubs or amateur tournaments, I went straight from the gym to the cage. Tournaments or c-class bouts never interested me. What’s the point in fighting without headshots?”.
Khalsa became a fan favourite of the UK’s largest purely amateur promotion, Battle Arena, having all seven of his previous bouts on the show, ending his amateur career at 6-1, having held their Lightweight World Title. “It’s a fantastic platform. It’s so well organised and the fights are always well matched. Each fight taught me something new, making me a better fighter all around”.
Progressing out of the amateur ranks now, Khalsa has caught the eye of the continental giant BAMMA, signing a multi-fight deal, making his promotional debut on BAMMA 29, May 12th at Birmingham’s Genting Arena against the decorated Muay Thai practitioner, Cian Cowley. “I can’t wait, this is what I’ve been working towards, and making my debut in my home town just makes it all the better. I keep hearing people talk about Cowley, but to be honest, I’m not bothered about him, I just want to focus on the fight. It’s not all about him, it’s about me. People bang on about who he knows, who he trains with, his photos with Conor (McGregor), blah, blah, blah; I’ve heard it all before. When the cage door closes it’s just me and him”.
“I’m making something of myself now, this is my full-time job and I love it. My family have supported me through everything and now it’s time for me to pay that back; they’re everything to me. They’ve changed my life and have turned me into something I never was and for that I am so grateful”.
Whilst a BAMMA debut is the realisation of a dream, it’s clearly not the ultimate goal. “I’ve got between five and eight years in this sport. In that time I want to make enough money for three things; a farm, a Lamborghini and some pedigree bulls”. Ok, this has piqued my interest; Khalsa continued, “I’ve watched so many programmes on bulls, do you know that you can get £30,000 – £50,000 a pop for putting a pedigree bull out to stud. Imagine having a few of them and putting them out 4 or 5 times a year. You’ll be made. I love bulls, they’re just misunderstood creatures who are full of testosterone”.
“Just like you!” piped up Tashy.
You can follow David’s progress on his Facebook athlete’s page, here.
David would also like to thank his family. His management company, Battle Ready. His coach, Russell Perks. His sponsors:
- Archie’s Salon
- Fam PT
- Outwork Nutrition
- Harrisons Auto Services
- My Sports Therapy
- Hawthorn’s Butchers
- Wedding singer and DJ Chris Foxall
You can purchase your tickets for BAMMA 29 directly from David himself or Russell Perks Martial Arts Academy in Kidderminster.