Indian WMMA fighter Jeet Toshi proud to be breaking barriers ahead of ONE FC 15

ONE FC

Jeet Toshi certainly doesn't come off like a fighter, with her baby-faced looks and disarming smile. But don't let her exterior fool you. Toshi once found a way to stand out amongst a country of 1.4 billion people, becoming India's only world-ranked female kickboxer at the young age of 22.

Now, without an Indian female professional league to jump to, Toshi has transitioned into mixed martial arts. Although by living in crime-stricken Dehli, the challenges in her way have been many.

"We don't have much ability to train as a professional in my country, especially in Delhi," Toshi said. "We don't have any gyms to train as a professional, so I have to go abroad every time. I haven't had regular training (lately) because I can't afford to stay in other countries.

"It's frustrating," she added. "[Because] we don't really have BJJ in our country. There is a few gyms but they're kind of far from my place, like 300 miles.

"I'm just trying to find out things on my own."

Toshi is scheduled to challenge Pilipina boxing champion Jujeath Nagaowa this Friday at ONE FC 15. The kickboxer fell victim to a first-round rear-naked choke in her debut with the Singapore-based promotion back in 2012, but that was before she had any real grasp of the ground game.

Since then she's traveled to Australia and Thailand in order to get quality training, and she even managed to win her comeback fight by the very same submission. While each trip abroad is financially stressful, unfortunately they're all too necessary.

Now that she's back in Delhi, a city which has at times been called the "rape capital of the world," Toshi's training has suffered in a significant way.

"Delhi's not safe," she said. "There's crime (everywhere), and it's not safe to go out at nighttime, or even at daytime some areas are really bad.

"I have to go everywhere with my brother. He drops me at the gym and picks me up. Sometimes he's not at home so I have to just skip my training and do it at home only."

Toshi started kickboxing when she was 16 as a means to learn self-defense in the city. Quickly she grew to love the art and its nuances. She finally transitioned to mixed martial arts after achieving her goals in amateur kickboxing, and now she's determined to make a life for herself that no other female in her country has done before.

"[I want] go abroad, train and fight and earn good money, a good career," she said.

"When I started, [my family] thought that it was not safe for girls. If something happened to my face, I could not be able to marry someone because in India they don't give much freedom to girls. But my family has been supportive of me and they enjoy my fights."

Just by glancing at her, one would never guess the diminutive atomweight had such powerful aspirations. She says strangers doubt her claims of being a professional fighter so often that she's taken to carrying around a few photos on her phone just to shut them up.

It's usually a funny scene, whenever the random guy hitting on Toshi realizes she could probably knock his block off. But most of all, she's just happy to dispel any preconceived notions about what Indian women can achieve.

"I feel proud because my family supports me and lets me do what I want to do," Toshi said. "I'm proud because no other female in India does international fights. We have lots of fighters, every street you can find a hundred fighters, but they're not really good enough to take it to a higher level and get out of the country to train and make it a career.

"I want to fight for the belt one day. I want to be world champion at my weight class."

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