By Andy Cotterill
I first saw the name Dr. Faisal Rehman on social media a handful of years ago when a fighter from the London, Ontario area thanked him for his help in leading up to his fight.
Most fighters make posts thanking the people who help them, and medical professionals are often amongst them so I didn’t think much of it.
But then I saw his name appear again, then again and again.
For the next few years so many fighters from that area thanked Dr. Rehman that it just seemed to be par for the course.
So when I found out that Rehman was scheduled to fight at this Saturday’s Prospect Fighting Championship, needless to say I was curious.
Some initial thoughts ran through my head like they possibly did yours.
What’s going on here?
A Doctor is fighting?
Does he think he’s a fighter?
“I was born unathletic unfortunately.” Dr. Rehman told MM-eh with a laugh.
Despite this assertion, in his youth the now 51-year-old turned to boxing for fitness and health, but over time he allowed his residency in Nephrology to justify an unhealthy lifestyle that provided no exercise and plenty of fast food, and he ballooned up to 242 pounds.
That state of being could have gone on indefinitely had a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obstructive sleep apnea contributed to him being rejected from obtaining life insurance.
“I neglected my health so much that I was blind to what was happening.” He said.
Rehman immediately went into action, making a return to boxing gym and losing an incredible 90 pounds in only 6 months.
His bloodwork normalized and he was able to get life insurance, and he has been fit ever since.
Then in 2006 his young daughter started a successful two and a half year battle with acute leukemia, an ordeal that revealed to him a truth that only those who undergo such an experience can truly understand.
“Life is so fleeting and temporary, and while we’re here on this planet we need to do something to help each other.” Rehman said.
“We need to make a difference to others, all of us.”
So it was that in 2009 that Rehman organized a committee and held “Showdown in the Downtown,” a charity boxing event in which he competed and that raised $100,000 for several causes in the London community.
Over the next few years his committee put on more combat sports events including kickboxing and MMA, as well as concerts by Chantal Kreviazuk and Blue Rodeo. Now 14 years later they have raised 2.7 million dollars for a diverse number of charities that battle medical illness, help fund research, help battle poverty, and help the Unity Project which works to combat homelessness.
It was during these years that Rehman was exposed to local fighters, and began to understand some of the challenges they face with regards to medical requirements before a commission will allow them to compete.
“I love this sport. I love martial arts and I know how hard it is for these young athletes to get medical care, to even get their licensing requirements done, it costs an arm and a leg. It’s one thing I can do to help to make sure the fighters have access to medical testing at no cost to them so we can get them licensed and taken care of if they get injured. We need people in the medical field like nurses and doctors and therapists to donate time to these athletes because many of them don’t have sufficient income.”
Clements told MM-eh that when Rehman first told him that he wanted to do a professional MMA fight he didn’t believe it was ever going to happen, but over the course of the training camp he now sees the student whom he’s trained for over 10 years in a new light.
“I don’t think there’s an active fighter in my gym right now that has the conditioning of this 51-year-old man, and I’m really excited to see him get in there and get his hand raised in the end.”
So if you’re keeping track, in addition to spending time with his family, Rehman is an organizer on a charitable committee, provides free medical assistance to fighters, trains three times a day, and oh, there’s also the 60-80 hours a week that he works at the hospital as a kidney specialist.
Over the years he had accumulated 15 amateur boxing and kickboxing fights and one amateur MMA fight, so to him there was only one logical next step.
“I know I’m old.” Rehman states, ” and I want to have a pro fight before I die.”
Luckily for him, the Prospect Fighting Championship had scheduled their first post-Covid event for October 22nd, and Rehman reached out.
That organization was on board for him to compete with them, but others needed convincing.
“I don’t think that anyone in my inner circle would have wanted me to do it,” Rehman concedes, “but now when they see me and how good I’ve looked over the last few weeks and they see that I’ve put the work in and their confidence in me has gone way up.”
In preparation for this challenge Rehman dramatically increased the volume of his training for the past 12 weeks, training twice a day at Adrenaline with another workout at home.
Add that to Strength and Conditioning guidance from 2 time national boxing champ Taveena Kum, and Rehman knows that he’s in a good place leading up to his fight.
“I’ve never been more fit or ready and right at this very moment I’m in the best shape of my life.”
His excellent physical condition means that Rehman was able to pass the critical eye of the Ontario’s Athletics Commissioner who sent someone to scrutinize his skills over the course of seven, 5-minute rounds, and allowed him to receive a license to compete.
So now all that’s left to do is to do it.
Readers of this article will likely fall into two different camps with two different concerns, and Rehman has answers to both.
There will be those who think that this is some kind of gimmick and a bad idea, and that nobody should be making their pro MMA debut at 51-years-old.
To that Rehman responds, “I’ve overcome every obstacle that was put in front of me so I think it’s just up to me to prove the naysayers wrong. It doesn’t matter because it’s going to be a success. We’re going to raise a lot of money to battle poverty and homelessness and help displaced children, people who need heart, liver, and kidney transplants. This is what it’s all about in the end, it’s not about my ego, it’s about raising money for so many great causes.”
If you’re in the other camp you might laud him for his desire to help, but wonder if there might be an easier way for him to do it.
I could hear the smile in Rehman’s voice when he answered.
“If you don’t take those risks you don’t live life.”