Kultar Gill is a study in contrasts.
As he sits outside one of the rings at his Mamba Martial Arts Academy in Abbotsford, youngsters enter, but not without coming over to shake his hand. He laughs and exchanges a few words with each one. Other fighters enter, also with an amiable handshake and a friendly greeting.
With a broad smile and a gesture, Gill is, admittedly, a people person.
That's what makes it almost impossible to believe that in the ring the Fraser Valley fighter could pummel an opponent so hard as to knock him unconscious in the span of just 51 seconds.
It was just four weeks ago that Gill did just that, with four lightning-fast shots to the head of Quinton Arendse, a champion Muay Thai fighter from Hong Kong. The Black Mamba (Gill) took the fight in the first minute of the opening fiveminute round in front of 13,000 frenzied fans in Delhi, India, and another 500 million MMA fans watching live worldwide.
The announcer called Gill "the most decorated Indian fighter in history," and the Abbotsford fighter did not disappoint.
"I'm an aggressive fighter," said Gill, acknowledging the adrenaline rush. "It was bam, bam, bam, bam."
And it was over before the refs were able to jump in and stop it.
"Bam, a right hand, a left hand, a right and a left, four straight shots put away Arendse. Forget it," called the announcer.
In his exuberance in winning the fight, Gill jumped out of the ring, unintentionally knocking over a cameraman as he tried to jump over him and ran outside the ring to acknowledge his thousands of screaming fans.
The May 6 fight was the third match for the Super Fight League, which is an Indian mixed martial arts promotion run by Bollywood in India. SFL events can be watched live around the world on YouTube.
Gill, 33, was born in Mission and graduated from Rick Hansen Secondary in 1997, but not before turning pro at the age of 16. He was a champion wrestler for the Hurricanes and later was ranked sixth in the world in Muay Thai.
He calls mixed martial arts the ultimate sport made up of kickboxing, boxing, wrestling and jiu jitsu. But it's gotten a bad rap of late.
"It's something new, something different. People don't understand what it is and think it's a negative sport," he said. The same was true for kung fu and then karate, before they became mainstream.
"It's regulated and it's very safe. It's even safer than boxing. It's a complete sport. It's just misunderstood. When you don't know it, you fear it."
Gill, a father of two and a corrections officer at Mission Institution, retired from competition in 2008 and started his own martial arts academy in Abbotsford in March 2011.
"It's a way of giving back to my own town."
At the academy, he trains everyone, from accountants to doctors. There are 150 students (including 25-30 girls) and eight trainers. Most come for recreation, fitness and to learn selfdefence.
Last New Year's Eve he took one of his fighters, Bibiano Fernandez, to Japan where he won the world title in MMA.
Now out of retirement, Gill is working his way back to fight in the worlds in December. His next fight will be in September in India.
With more than 60 fights under his belt, nerves are no longer an issue for the Black Mamba.
"Now it's just excitement and adrenaline. The only thing that keeps me calm is fighting."
Mountain biking at its best
The 16th annual Bear Mountain Challenge, Canada's oldest mountain bike downhill race is set to go on July 1, Canada Day in Mission. Racing starts at 11: 30 a.m. Whether you're a pro racer, just want to have fun, or are somewhere in between, you won't want to miss out.