When mixed martial artist (MMA) Gurdarshan Gary ‘Saint Lion’ Mangat competes in Singapore this June his hometown of Williams Lake will be in his heart and mind.
“I’m hoping to make you guys proud out there in Williams Lake,” he said from Las Vegas where he has been training for the most high-profile fight of his career.
He will go up against Yodkaikaew (Y2K) Fairtex, a former Muay Thai world champion, at a ONE 158 event being held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Pointing to the achievements of Olympians from Williams Lake such as rugby player Kayla Moleschi and NHL goalie Carey Price, Mangat suggested people from the area are built differently.
“It must be in the tap water or something. We reach heights that people cannot imagine.”
For two or three sessions a day, Mangat trains in every martial art that is associated with mixed martial arts from kick-boxing, to jiu jitsu, to wrestling, strengthening and conditioning.
Part of the training, he said, is fighting with some of the best fighters in the world day in and day out to push each other as if in a real fight.
“It’s a very extreme environment and sometimes very hostile because everyone is getting ready for their own fight. Most people you see on TV are the ones I’m training with here.”
His last fight was in May 2021 in Singapore where he won and dominated the fight.
When asked how his body is holding up he responded until a person witnesses it themselves it is hard to comprehend the extremes the body is pushed to being a martial artist.
“The best way to put it is that it is a lot of trauma to your body when you train two to three times a day and eight to 12 weeks at a time. You have to be very focused on the goal of why you are doing it.”
After attending a wedding of a friend in Vancouver on the long weekend, he left for Singapore on Tuesday, May 24.
“You are always nervous for every fight – excitement and nervous are kind of mixed together because there is always a lot of pressure in these types of situations.”
This July he will celebrate his fifth anniversary with his wife Chandni Sanger, who he met in Montreal.
Together they take high-risk youth into their home, which he described as a different type of “full house,” something he started doing about seven years ago before he met Sanger.
“It was definitely something my wife was supportive of and she wanted to get involved with. They weren’t letting a lot of females be involved and she broke the barrier.”
His sister and brother also live in Vancouver while his parents are still working and living in Williams Lake.
Born and raised in Williams Lake, he left after graduating from Columneetza in 2005 to pursue an accounting degree at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
En route to becoming an accountant, he discovered mixed martial arts and switched career goals in 2007.
He never dreamed he would become someone living off his athletic ability, because he had never challenged himself as an athlete.
“That was Carey Price that we all graduated together with – he was that guy.”
MMA has been the hardest thing he’s ever done in his life, and to be doing it as long as he has is testimony to his dedication.
He also credited his parents for instilling a hard work ethic that he witnessed growing up.
As the June 3, 2022 fight draws close, he encourages people to tune in to the live-stream on the One Championship YouTube channel.
If he wins he will be one step closer to the gold.
“I’m very much on that path and I believe within the next 365 days I will have the world championship on my shoulders.”
For the first time in several years Mangat will return home on the Williams Lake Stampede weekend.
“Everything I know and learn is what I learned in Williams Lake. It’s a simple form of hard work. It’s about being true to yourself and the people around you.”
As a boy he delivered the Tribune and said that is how he earned his first $100.