Interview & Photography By: Asif Khan Hair & Makeup: Sumaira Siddiqui
After breaking down several barriers like female conventionality, male chauvinism and gender discrimination and by proving many people wrong, Maham Tai, our international Mixed Martial Art (MMA) and Bando player, is fast becoming a raging sensation and a symbol of female empowerment in Pakistan.
Under the tutelage of her father, Grand Master Ashraf Tai, Maham Tai started martial arts training when she was hardly one and a half years old. Despite her She received her black belt at the age of eight and then 2nd Dan when she was barely eleven years old. Presently, she is a black belt 3rd Dan.
With five international and six national tournaments to her credit, Maham is a certified fitness trainer with a gym of her own where Zumba, Yoga, Aerobics and strength training classes are offered. In her alluring sports career, she is the recipient of titles like ‘Junior National Champion’ where she was crown with a Gold Medal in Bando Style. In Quetta, 2010, she played Wuko from Army Team and bagged silver and gold medals in two different fights and became one of the defining athletes.
After a string of successful bouts nationally and gaining several plaudits for her explosive and overriding fighting style, Maham surprised everyone when she became the Gold Medalist in her very first international tournament in ‘Muay Thai Championship’ held in Thailand and build a new record by finishing all three fights in less than six minutes. This doesn’t stop here, as in China she secured won the most sacred Yin Medal Kung fu.
With a number of projects under her belt and goals to attain in her mind, Maham Tai is all set to take things by storm. She just completed her MS in Media Science and looking forward to appear for CSS exams.
Please tell us about yourself, your background, family and education?
My family basically belongs from Iran and we are a Syed family. I did my schooling from mama Parsi till my O’levels and then completed my A’levels from Nixor College. I like living my life care free and the way I think it would be better for me.
How did you get started as a MMA fighter? Is it something you always wanted? Or had your family played a role in it?
I started as a MMA fighter because my entire family was into this field and they were much of an influence on me. So, I started off at the age of 1.5 and ever since there has been no looking back.
Do you think women have enough scope in MMA?
I think women have a lot of scope in MMA and I wish they are encouraged towards it more. I see women excelling in every other sport and field, then why not MMA.
You have a number of titles under your belt. Which of these matches were your favorites to fight?
My Thailand fight stands as my favorite one which was World Muay Thai tournament
What has been the most challenging part since you started?
The most challenging part since I started was being a female and being in this field where I came across issues of gender discrimination and it took a large chunk of my time to change and overcome that.
What is your secret of maintaining a healthy lifestyle?
My secret of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is drinking a lot of water and eating healthy and staying miles away from bad influence and stress.
Do you have any mentor who you look up to for guidance?
My mentor is in my family and that’s my mom. She had always been my guidance.
Do you think it is mandatory to know some form of self-defense for girls and women in today’s world?
Of course!! They should know how to fight for themselves and keep themselves safe.
Have you coached women for the purpose of self defense?
I have coached a lot of women and still am for self defense and I think that’s the best part of my journey as it feels amazing that I am helping them out in this way.
You have made quite a name for yourself within a short time. Has it been overwhelming or too much to handle?
Well Allhamdullah hard work always pays off and I’ve attained all of this because of my parents. I find it over whelming but not that hard to handle though.
Tell us something about yourself whom very few people know?
I look very aggressive and arrogant but I’m really not I’m very patient and a fun loving person and that no matter how strict diet I’m on I cannot resist pizza.
If you were not a MMA fighter, what career would you have pursued?
I think other than a martial artist I would have been a stylist or film director
What are your hobbies and how do you spend your free time?
My hobbies are Netflix and music, hanging out etc.
What advice do you have for individuals looking into getting into this field?
Advice for individuals wanting to come in this field is that go for it will not only groom you as a person but make yourself strong and confident.
Share any funny and/or memorable incidents with the fans?
I did a few commercials so a fan in a super mart shouted out my commercial name Aliya and I didn’t respond then she came up to me complaining that I didn’t respond on which I told her my real name on which she in return said “Aliya naam ziada acha he”
Any message for your followers and fans?
A message for my followers is that you should always go after your dreams and be determined. Do what you like and be an original always.
Last book you read?
The last book I read was atomic habits
Ideal breakfast menu?
I like having omelets with a lot of things I add to it, orange juice with paratha
I have a lot of favorite movies but I’ll say “a beautiful mind”
My inspiration is my Mother and Jean Claude Vandamme
Herbs you use most?
I use aloe Vera the most
You favorite TV series of all time?
Ertrugul is my favorite TV series and queen of South
My biggest wish is to be the best daughter, wife and a mother
You spend most of your money on?
I spend most of my money on food and shopping
My favorite perfume is flower bomb Victor and Rolf
Favorite pizza topping?