Back in May of 2008, Gary “Saint Lion” Mangat was beginning his amateur MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) career just as the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) was at its early stages of breaking into the mainstream. That year the UFC hosted 20 events — double what they had put on in 2005 and its most in the sport’s history opening year in 1993. Suffice to say, Mangat, the former accountant, was getting into the world of fighting at the right time.
Early on, Mangat remembers, “I started from the ground up.” With no background in any style of fighting or wrestling, Mangat was focused on being an MMA fighter moving from behind the desk and into the cage. “After moving from the small town where I was from [Williams Lake, B.C.], I was inspired by the people down in Vancouver. You met athletes, actors and all these people who were making it in the big city. I was always told I could amount to something, but I never tested it out.”
For Mangat, that first practice he went to was, “the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” and from that he says, he began a spiritual journey. As he started to train more often and actually fight in sanctioned MMA events, he realized that he could become a leader, not a follower, a stronger person both physically and metally, all of which continues to grow each day as he strives to become not only one of the top Canadian fighters of this generation but one of the best Punjabi fighters as well.
While Mangat doesn’t wear his Punjabi heart on his gloves in the cage, it is undeniably a part of who he is, and the Surrey community sees him as a growing legend. According to Sportskeeda’s top-10 list of Indian MMA fighters Since his professional career started in 2011, he has torn up the MMA scene with a record of 10 wins and one loss. Each fight magnifies his ever growing fame. Having won at three different weight classes (125, 135 and 145–135 being his preferred choice) and in so many divisions such as Battlefield Fight League, Super Fight League and now, Brave Combat Federation speaks to his ability to stand up to any challenge.
“It’s very cool; when I’m out and about, people come up to me and tell me how I’ve inspired them.” His efforts to inspire are wide-ranging, from working with organizations like Life Ready Foundation with Will Loftus to motivate local youth to keep fighter to achieve their dreams, doing various interviews with various networks and communities to share his story, as well as speaking without organizations when asked around Metro Vancouver.
Giving back is incredibly important to Mangat and part of that might be connected to how many fighters with more experience have helped him on his journey. In 2013, Mangat joined Tristar Gym which helped to train one of the greatest UFC fighters in history, George St. Pierre, who Mangat had the chance to work with for some time. Other people, he’s had the chance to get to know and learn from in the sport include UFC great Michael Bisbing, Steven “Wonderboy” Thompson, and of course, Conor McGregor. Mangat has wisely been following McGregor over his last four fights to see how the current top dog in the UFC gets it done.
With so much going on in Mangat’s life and having a huge circle of people around him, including now being a husband after he got married this summer, it can be hard to keep up with the rising MMA Surrey stud. The best way to attempt to though, is to follow him on his various social media platforms. He is always posting Instagram stories throughout his days and has recently started a Youtube channel which has video logs that cover his training, his trips and so much more. You can find him @saintlion on Instagram and at Saintlion on YouTube as well as on Twitter @saintlion and don’t forget on Facebook at @Saintlion1.
There’s no doubt that Gary “Saint Lion” Mangat is prolific on social media, but he has consistently proved that he is equally important to the communities in Surrey. That’s before we mention his greatness as an MMA fighter. Having won 6 fights in a row while he only gets more skilled as a trained Ji Jitsu fighter and as a boxer, every MMA competitor in his wake should hope that this lion doesn’t get put in his cage so he doesn’t tear them apart.