In 2009, Bashir Somchai Ahmad introduced MMA in Pakistan. Now a small but active MMA community exits in the country. But Bashir Ahmad’s story isn’t just about MMA — he’s using sports and changing the world for the young slum dwellers, one day at a time.
Bashir Ahmad’s Shaheen is empowering. It’s evoking hope and giving a lease to a whole generation’s dreams.
Dubbed as Pakistan MMA Godfather, 36 years old Bashir Ahmad was the first to globally represent the country in 2013, defeating Thailand’s Shannon Wiratchai. There was no looking back for Ahmad after that, as he bagged three wins at ONE Championship and a gold medal in Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Bangkok.
The 2013 victory in ONE Championship, Asia’s largest MMA event, proved to be a turning point for both MMA in Pakistan and for Bashir Ahmad himself. Pakistan emerged as a strong contender on the global MMA scene and Somchai won recognition as an accomplished professional fighter.
But, despite all the fame and success, Ahmad felt something amiss… he had a pulsing desire to bring a change in the lives of uneducated kids and hopeless youth of the country. Bashir Ahmad believes:
“The biggest security threat to the country is not our neighbors but illiteracy and lack of education.”
This drive and passion gave birth to Shaheen in 2015.
Ahmad’s dream project, Shaheen, is a community center, located in the slums of Charrar Pind, a destitute village inside DHA, Lahore.
The poor and disadvantaged kids and teens of the Shaheen Acadamy look up to Bashir Ahmad as a role model. He inspires and motivates them through the power of martial arts to be “the best version of themselves.”
Shaheen isn’t the first MMA venture in Pakistan. In 2010, Synergy, the first recognized MMA Academy in Pakistan, was also founded by Bashir Ahmad. It is home to all MMA-related endeavors throughout Pakistan.
In fact, Synergy’s success provided the essential footing, taking Ahmad one step closer to his mission, the Shaheen.
Synergy solicits fighters from all over the country and regularly organizes fights under the umbrella of Shaheen Smokers. These fights provide amateur players from schools and other clubs opportunities to polish their skills in a professional environment.
Shaheen is an extension of Synergy, providing basic education and MMA training of underprivileged children. They get training in self-defence and fitness through martial arts. Ahmad promotes his philosophy of Peace through Sports by empowering these kids with means to improve their life.
The main focus at Shaheen Acadamy is building character and invoking self-worth. Their grooming helps these kids aim higher in their lives and work hard to achieve it. Bashir Ahmad believes:
“The fastest way to change our world is to educate children and lift families out of poverty and ignorance.”
For Ahmad, his key achievement is neither the fame nor the mounting success of MMA in Pakistan. His crowning glory is the difference his endeavors make in the lives of the young, trepid souls of the slum dwellers.
Ahmad recently started volunteering at The Mercy Center, an NGO working for the Bangkok slums for the last 45 years!
“I’ll be taking the lessons I learn and the experiences I have at The Human Development Foundation and applying them to #Shaheen.”
Shaheen is run entirely on contributions from MMA fans and people inspired by the mission. You can help Shaheen kids through Bashir Somchai’s Gofundme.
Ahmad also holds fundraising events to support #TeamShaheen which he believes is the
“… … purest expression of what got me to move to Pakistan. These kids are going to be role models, they are are going to settle standard for others in their neighborhood for what it means to be a good citizen of Pakistan and the world.”
Ahmad recently announced running a marathon for Shaheen #runforshaheen and called for
“… … partners who feel this is a cause they can associate their brand with.”
Ahmad balances all the facets of his life well. His social campaigns, training, coaching, friends and family, all demand his time and attention. He loves to spend time with nature, actively participates in WWE ventures, loves to tend to his garden, but above all, he’s an avid reader.
In fact, it was Ahmad’s reading habit that brought him to his true calling. None could have imagined that a US war veteran will become an MMA revolutionist in Pakistan in the coming years.
Bashir Ahmad’s journey is amazingly inspiring. Born in Faisalabad, Ahmad moved to Virginia with his family when he was only three. Serving in the US army was his chosen career, but soon he started to feel discontent. During this time, he read Malcolm X’s autobiography that changed his perspective entirely.
The moment of epiphany came during his deployment in Afghanistan. He realized his future didn’t belong in the Forces. He had better things to do and so he chose another medium to fight. Ahmad left the US Army in 2006 and started taking Jiu-Jitsu lessons.
“I thought of it as fighting the system through combat sports.”
His passion took him to Thailand for exclusive MMA training. In 2009, he finally bade farewell to the United States of America and returned to his birth-country Pakistan in hopes of bringing about a sporting revolution as it was bound to happen, in his own words,
“It was in my DNA, deep inside my soul. I wasn’t interested in ‘fighting,’ in fact, it was the philosophical and personal development of martial arts that hooked me.”
Ahmad considers himself a martial artist instead of a fighter and that’s what he aspires for his fellow MMA fighters in Pakistan as well.
“Don’t look at the glory of being a champion. Make martial arts your lifestyle and you will be a champion in all areas of your life.”
Ahmad’s struggle and hard work were recognized when he was inducted in the Hall of Fame during the World Martial Arts Summit and Festival, 2018. The event took place in Bangkok and Ahmad was awarded alongside Carlson Gracie who is an icon of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Ahmad considers it
“… … a moment of great honor for me.”
In 2018, Bashir Somchai Ahmad achieved yet another milestone as a martial artist when he got appointed as Senior Manager of Industry Partnership in ONE Championship.
From being an athlete in ONE to being a member of the management, Ahmad takes pride in this transition and aims to promote the spirit and values of the organization. Bashir has fought 6 times under the banner of Asia’s biggest MMA organization and the new role is not going to stop him to fight like an athlete.
“I am not retiring and I won’t for a while.”
In fact, he recently declared his intention of coming back to the ring… where and when hasn’t been disclosed yet.