Kultar “Black Mamba” Gill is an internationally-renowned professional mixed martial artist (MMA) turned correctional officer. He retired from fighting a few years ago and took his skills to the gym, where he trains up and coming fighters – both young and old – at the Mamba Martial Arts Academy in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He opened it to give local residents a state of the art facility where they can learn from professional fighters, improve their fitness and well-being, and boost their self-confidence.
Kultar’s shiftwork at Matsqui Institution allows him to balance his work responsibilities with his personal responsibilities. Four days on, five days off means he has plenty of time to spend at the gym, training people and encouraging them to find their own strength. This is particularly important in his dealings with troubled youth.
“A lot of these kids have no structure, no discipline, and no guidance, so we provide that for them,” he says. “Some of them come from poor backgrounds, others want to get out of the gang lifestyle. It’s easy for these kids to follow the wrong path, so by taking them in and training them for free, they have a chance to see that there are better options for them.”
Kultar knows that many of these kids come to him simply because they see MMA on television and want to be a part of the glamorous lifestyle. But they are in for a shock when they step through his gym doors, he says.
“When they join they see a totally different way of living. It’s about clean living, clean eating, training, going to bed on time, no drugs, conditioning, discipline, and taking care of your body. It’s about having respect for your training partners and your opponents. It’s not about being a tough guy or a show-off. It’s about being a warrior.
“Once they are in, they think, ‘Hey, maybe I don’t have to go down that path. Maybe I can get an education, maybe I can play sports, maybe I can be something and be involved in something good. I’ve seen many success stories come through my gym and that’s why I do it.”
Kultar’s contribution to his community has not gone unnoticed. He was recently named a British Columbia Role Model of the Year. The recognition is nice, he says, but isn’t the reason he does it.
“For me, it’s about being a mentor and, in some cases, a second father figure to the kids I coach. My phone is always on for them. They will call to say their parents are getting divorced, or maybe they are being influenced to get involved with bad people. I talk to them and support them, and if they try to quit, I show up at their house and say no you’re not!”
“I don’t do this for the publicity. If it changes someone’s life, I’m all for it. Helping others is good for your spirit. If you change one life, you change a million.
Kultar also coaches a fight team at his gym. They compete on the international circuit and are about to head off to China in a few weeks where he will be cheering them on.
“This isn’t just a business, it’s like family,” he says. “It’s good for your soul.”