We have heard people saying that they are willing to go through any pain to defend a cause dear to them.

Haresh Deol is about to do just that, quite literally.

Come Nov 23, the 37-year-old editor is set to take on professional fighter Shareh 'The Jeneral' Nasrullah in the Fight for Change 2019 mixed martial arts (MMA) event at the Cobra Club in Petaling Jaya.

The event is jointly organised by twentytwo13.my- an online news portal Haresh co-founded with fellow journalist Pearl Lee, and the Mixed Martial Arts Association of Malaysia. It is supported by the National Press Club (NPC), of which Haresh is the deputy president.

There are two reasons for Haresh to take up this painful challenge - one, to correct the bad perception against the MMA, and two, to highlight the welfare of journalists who have fallen on hard times.

"MMA has a bad perception problem. What people see on TV is the sport is all about spilling blood in the ring, but at the amateur level, MMA is just like any other sport - it is all about gaining points.

"I had also been, in the past, very critical of MMA, until I took it up in late 2017," Haresh told Astro Ulagam.

Raising awareness

The second cause very dear to Haresh that he finds worth fighting for is the plight of journalists, especially that of those who have been retrenched and so on.

"As the deputy president of the National Press Club, I don't like it when we can only extend help when a journalist dies. We should be able to help a journalist all the way," he said.

Proceeds from ticket sales at the event, which go for RM50 each, will go towards the development of MMA in the countrty, and a large chunk will go towards the NPC's Journalist Welfare Fund.

"At the end of the day, money is only temporary. The main goal of this fight is to create noise and raise awareness of the cause of journalist welfare. I hope the noise will be heard, and someone else will do something similar - not as crazy as this fight, but something that can help fellow journalists who are in need."

Asked about how prepared he was to take on a professional fight, Haresh said: "Honestly, I don't know how to answer that question."

On whether he had ever regretted committing to the match, he quipped: "Every day!"

Mentor vs Mentee

To put things into perspective, Haresh will be pitting his newly picked up MMA skills against Shareh's 3-3-1 Muay Thai record and 1-2 MMA record. Haresh is also 9 years older than his 28-year-old opponent.

The fight would also be unorthodox, in a sense that Haresh will be going against Shareh, who has been his personal trainer for a long time.

"In MMA, the concept of mentee going against a mentor is considered very rude.

"But that is what the fight is all about - making a change. I'm lucky Shareh was a sport and agreed to the fight.

"His exact words when I pitched the idea was 'Gila tapi I sokong' (It's crazy, but I support it)," recalled Haresh.

Haresh admits that no matter what happens on Nov 23, what matters is "the noise" being heard, in order to raise awareness to the welfare of journalists.

Tickets for the event are priced at RM50 each. For more information, email [email protected] or [email protected]

Photo source: Haresh Deol, Astro Arena