First Sikh UFC fighter to wear turban before match || SV

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The first Sikh Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter Arjan Singh Bhullar, who hails from Vancouver (Canada), has entered into a partnership with the National Sikh Campaign(NSC) to use his event to increase awareness and education about the Sikhs in the US and to increase the interest and representation of the Indian community in sports. The NSC founder, Rajwant Singh, told TOI on Wednesday that Bhullar would sport his turban during his walk to the ring for his fight with Polish fighter Adam Wieczorek in Glendale, Arizona, scheduled to be held on Baisakhi (April 14).
He said that Arjan was in Phoenix, Arizona, one month prior to his upcoming bout because he intended to deliver much more than a victory. He visited several places, including gurdwaras, to reach out to the community, said Rajwant. He said not only Arjan’s partnership with the NSC would help in increasing awareness about the Sikh identity and their turban but the fighter also desired to increase interest and representation of the Indian community and other South Asians in the sport.

Arjan said that, “It’s important for me to wear my turban into the ring. Around the world, people do not know what Sikhs stands for and what our turbans stand for. We believe in equality of gender, caste, race. Throughout history, we have been fighting for that and the turban signals readiness to protect those values. It’s important for me to represent where I come from and what my people are all about.” He said it was important for him to use this platform and his career in mixed martial arts to transcend beyond sports. “ I want to light a fire and break down barriers for my community and ultimately inspire Indians across the globe,” he said.
Rajwant stated that Phoenix was significant for US Sikhs as the first post 9/11 hate crime happened in Mesa to Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh man who was murdered for sporting a turban. He said that Arjan also met the Sodhi family. Over 300 hate crimes have been reported against Sikhs in the US since 9/11 and a reported 60% of Americans are not familiar with the Sikh faith. Arjan was forbidden from wearing the religious head gear for debut fight against Luis Henrique last year, said the NSC founder.

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