7 Time National Karate Champion Theebaan Govindasamy or better know as Theebaan G shares a little about his life, growing up, being in the national team and PASKAL.
1) Let us begin with you starting off your career in sports Theebaan, we know you are a 7 time national karate champion(Amazing), what got you into this specific sport?
Simply put, my parents! I started karate when I was 5 along with two of my elder siblings. We didn’t have much of a choice as my parents said we have to be able to defend ourselves and signed us up. With my sister following everything my parents said and my brother loving the damn thing, it was just me who really didn’t like it. Although later on both my brother and I would end up cutting classes, take to our bicycles and see who could get closest to the dojo, while class was running, without getting caught. Spoiler, we got caught.
2) Did you ever thought that you would be training towards winning the 7 national titles, in fact winning 3 South-East Asian Games silver medals. Was it something you aimed at the beginning?
Not at all! From the time I starkarate up till I was 12/13 years old I really did not like it, dfeet to class on some days, pretending to be sick on others. I mean, karate classes were twice a week, Fridays at 8pm and Sundays at 10am. And do you remember Sunday morning cartoons? How to miss? It wasn’t until one day in class when I was 13 years old that I decided to put more of my heart towards training. I figured since there’s no running away from it, why not just do it properly. In class my brother would always get praised for his impeccable form, while I got nothing simply because I wasn’t trying hard enough. After I made the decision to that, I won my first ever medal in a tournament the following year. Never looked back since.
3) How did you deal with setbacks when you decided to do this full time? I’m sure there were some sort of discouragements or even injuries that might have slowed down your progress Theebaan.
Too many setbacks. I’ve gone under the knife 3 times in my life, all 3 operations quite major. Two of those operations were on each of my knees. Right knee in 2006 and my left knee in 2009. They were both ACL reconstructive surgeries, with the latter a lot more complicated than the former. After my second operation my doctor told me I might never fight again, but somehow I just didn’t believe him. I knew that if I put in the work, I’d be able to fix whatever it was. And till today I work on strengthening my knees as it’s all part of just how I train now.
4) How was life in the MMA for you? What are the challenges you faced?
Well starting MMA, I thought I’d do tremendously well at the get go looking at my performance in karate, but that was not the case. MMA was an entirely different beast altogether. I lost my first fight, but I started to want it more. I jumped into the ring for my first MMA fight ever without a day of training MMA, a year after I stopped karate. Of course I was gonna lose. After that fight, Klinch MMA in KL approached me and offered to train me. And that is kinda where it all started.
It wasn’t all rainbows and pink unicorns however. It was a constant struggle to balance training schedules with work, which at that time, was personal training. If I missed work, I couldn’t put food in my mouth and if I missed training, well I was gonna lose. I’m lucky to have had a my girlfriend, Darshanaa, who stood by me through it all, constantly pushing me, one day at a time.
5) Theebaan, lately you have become a celebrity yourself, dabbling into modeling and movies too! Tell us about how that came about?
Well the movies sorta just happened. It started in 2014 when my karate coach was producing a local Tamil film and insisted that I play the lead role. I agreed and we made a movie. Fast-forward three years, and I get a phone call from the casting department of the producers of PASKAL. She told me that she saw me in a movie (the one I mentioned above) and would like me to come in to their office for an audition. I went in for the audition but never in a million years did I even imagine that I would land that role. And the rest is history.
6) Your first movie was Paskal and it has garnered a huge success in the cinemas and amongst Malaysians. We saw pictures of you training for the movie too, tell us about that process, being top shaped! 😉
Filming PASKAL was delightful. It had everything an action movie needed. We all knew that the better we looked the better the end product. So the whole cast and crew gave it 100%. From training by ourselves in the gym to training with the real PASKAL, we had our work cut out for us months before we even started filming. We stayed for weeks in an army camp to get all of us to walk, talk and behave as a unit. We went through rigorous training sessions and believe me they did not cut us any slack. When we were on training grounds, we were one. If you make a mistake, everyone gets punished. We were required to run long distances fully equipped my our gear (I wanna say a total of 20kg but I have to check), we were thrown into swimming pools with the same gear and of course we got to play with guns. At the end of the day, it was an experience like no other.
7) I’m very sure all your fans would have asked or maybe wondered, how did you get that scar on your cheek Theebaan, do you mind sharing with us?
LoL. The scar on my cheek is one from a bicycle accident when I was 2/3 years old according to my parents. I was eating while cycling when I fell off my bicycle and cut my face wide open. I got 31 stitches on my cheek, 2 right under my nose, 3 right above my chin, and 3 on my right eyebrow. Only the one on my cheek is from an accident. The others are from fighting.
8) What are your future plans, do you plan to continue MMA, or move into the movie industry full time?
Well I’m still working on a plan at this point. I’m not ready to stop fighting just yet, its part of who I am. I have also found a new love for the movies so I’m definitely gonna pursue that as well. I’m really working to build my own identity, rather than have to choose between the two.
9) Can you even go somewhere and not been noticed? and if they do, what is the craziest thing you have encountered from your fans Theebaan?
The whole idea of being noticed or spotted is crazy as it is. Never have I ever imagined something like that. Sometimes you hear the girls screaming, and sometimes the guys too. Haha. Its just really nice to know that people recognise your work. It really motivates you.
10)What would be your advice to all future young and upcoming fighters? We know there is a lot of them that look up to you.
I get asked “How do I become a fighter” a lot! And if I could say one thing, it would be that martial arts is not a something you do on a weekend and the forget about. Martial arts is a way of life. Everything about you from your physical appearance to your mentality changes. Pick up a martial art because you want to learn what it has to offer, and nothing else. Not the fame, not the life you see on social media, and definitely not for ‘cool-points’.
We at thekult would like to wish Theebaan G all the best and an abundance of success coming your way!