While Rahul “The Kerala Krusher” Raju may have ended 2019 under the weight of an injury, the Indian lightweight is committed to crushing 2020 – and he is starting with his recovery.
Following his victory over Furqan “The Lion” Cheema last November, Raju underwent surgery and is now temporarily sidelined from competition.
“It was actually a prolonged injury that happened three weeks before my fight, probably due to a lot of wrestling and jiu-jitsu,” he said.
“I had already transitioned into mostly pad work and also avoided any dynamic grappling, hoping that it would recover once I rested properly.
“After my fight, I didn’t train for nearly three weeks and it still did not heal. Actually, it got worse.”
A diagnosis revealed a ruptured disc, and Raju, at the behest of his doctors, quickly opted to go under the knife.
“I was very confident before the surgery because the doctors explained everything to me beforehand clearly,” Raju said.
“I even sought out a second opinion and decided that surgery was the necessary choice.”
Raju, who had back-to-back wins in ONE Championship last year, might have been placed on a forced hiatus, but he remains upbeat.
Also, there is a good reason behind the 28-year-old’s optimism – his recovery has exceeded expectations, and he believes it will not be long before he is back to doing what he loves.
“My right hand and shoulder [were] quite numb after surgery, but now it’s almost back to normal,” the Singapore-based athlete said.
“The doctors have stated that I can expect a full 100-percent recovery eventually. I’m due to take another MRI in three months and should be able to resume my training.”
“The Kerala Krusher” has sacrificed much to achieve his goal of becoming a professional athlete, and his dreams continue to motivate him as he recuperates.
After he moved to Singapore to study, Raju quickly fell in love with combat sports as a hobby. He then abandoned a promising career in the semiconductor industry to compete professionally in mixed martial arts.
However, Raju had to endure a tough start to his ONE career, as he lost to Shannon Wiratchai, Garry Tonon, and former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio Banario.
Despite the early setbacks, the mechatronics graduate engineered a remarkable turnaround in his promotional tenure. Raju went 2-0 while debuting an effective brand of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which helped him earn two-straight finishes.
Even though he is currently unable to compete, the injury cannot keep Raju away from Juggernaut Fight Club, the gym where he spends most of his time.
“Juggernaut Fight Club is like a family to me, so even though I’m sidelined, I will still be helping them out. I will be focusing more on coaching, especially helping out my students with their jiu-jitsu and [getting] them ready to compete more in mixed martial arts, too,” he said.
The Indian athlete expects to be back in action soon and has set his sights on returning to the winner’s circle.
“I need to be 100-percent before my comeback, so that will likely be about six to seven months,” Raju said.
“I expect at least two fights this year, and I want to win them both – that is my goal.”
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