More awareness has been brought to the sport of MMA in South Africa and even though there is a possibility she doesn’t understand it yet, the world champion status achieved by a talented mixed martial artist has broken a lot of barriers.
These are the sentiments of MMA coach Eddie Lallo when he speaks of Nuha Shah who recently came back home with gold from the IMMAF Youth World Championships.
The 14-year-old from Grassy Park is the first IMMAF Gold medalist to come out of South Africa.
What’s even more impressive for the teen is that she is just a few months into MMA competitions having fallen in love with Jiu-Jitsu in 2016.
The South African flag was flying high in Dubai a week ago when Nuha finished her opponent with an armbar in the final to get her World Champion status.
The armbar finish in the final was the second of the three fights she had in the championships, with the other coming via a decision.
“Maybe she doesn’t understand it yet but eventually she will understand how big of a deal it is to get a gold medal at such a high level.
“Not only for her but for our communities and other girls, she has broken a lot of barriers,” said Lallo.
Nuha trains under Lallo out of Top Gym in Grassy Park, and Lallo says for a young martial artist Nuha’s consistency and always being open to new things led to her international success.
“She has brought more light to the sport especially in our communities because not a lot of people know about this sport,” said Lallo.
When speaking to Southern Mail, the Pelican Park High pupil said she was still coming to terms with her world champion status.
She said the amount of work she put in at the gym before the championships helped ease the nerves that come with competing on such a huge stage.
‘It felt unreal when I got the win in the final.
“It kicked in the most when I was at the airport and saw the big crowd cheering for me.”
Nuha said she fell in love with the sport when she followed her dad’s Jiu-jitsu training and now hopes she can transfer her youth championship to a world champion in a major MMA promotion in the coming years.
Nuha’s message to other youths is to give the sport a try as she did, and she has learned a lot of discipline as a result of it.
Her father, Ghaalib Shah, said the main advice he gave his daughter was to go out there to enjoy herself and not put pressure on herself.
The results of that are self-evident and he and the rest of the family are on cloud nine with the IMMAF outcomes.
“She made history and this is something to be spoken about for a long time. We hope she continues on this path as this is her chosen career now.
“She’s happy with it and we just have to keep backing her up, her coach backing her up and more of this will be a reality going forward,” said the senior Shah.
Possibilities are indeed infinite for Shah, especially under the watchful eye of Lallo who is an accomplished MMA practitioner and has worked with some of the best mixed martial artists in the country.