Cagefighter's path to Anti-Terror Mission
"Raja is one of the UK's most renowned cage-fighting coaches, having fought in arenas across the UK during the early gritty years of the now fast growing sport, also known as mixed-martial arts (MMA).
He is also a man of deep ideas, including harnessing Islamic teaching to defeat the ideology of the terrorists."
Nic Robertson (CNN)
From its conception over 2 decades ago, MMA has gone from involving a small, underground audience to masses worldwide. There are very few that have been able to sustain acknowledgement within the sport since its origin.
Usman Raja fought professionally and trained fighters at the championship level since 1998; ardent fans perusing the library of the pioneering MMA events such as Night of the Samurai, Millenium Brawl, UFC 38, Cage Rage through to recent Bellator's, UCMMA and BAMMA events will notice one common denominator - Usman Raja in the corner guiding his fighters!
His training expertise has seen him aide many high profile MMA competitors including Roger Gracie and Brad "One Punch" Pickett aswell as continuing to support his brother Suleman Raja, Head Trainer of one of the UK's Premier Fight Teams, Prizefighters.
A fighter who turned trainer through the demands of a busy Fight Team and his exceptional technical understanding, Usman Raja was the head trainer of Peacock gym's "No holds Barred Fighting Team." This was an elite group of fighters which included UFC Veterans Leigh Remedious, James Zikic (Cage Rage World Champion), Jess Liudin, Mustafa Al Turk as well as K1 pan pacific Champion Jon Thorpe, Iron Man Heavyweight Champion, Kamal Lock, Suley Mahmoud, Micheal Johnson, Gaz Roriston, Sol Gilbert and Jean Silva (Pride F C).
Usman's most recent vocation has seen him step into a more dangerous arena and use the weapon of humanism to spread peace.
Usman's reputation has grown considerably within the counter-terrorism network for two main reasons. Firstly, for taking on the most challenging and high-profile cases and successfully rehabilitating them, and secondly because offenders and ISIS returnees are contacting him directly for ideological rehabilitation.
This has been due to the public transformation of high-profile cases resulting in urban street credibility, the successful creation of a counter-culture in a UK prison and the unrivalled legitimacy of the approach due to strong partnerships and consistent support from world renowned Ideological Scholars.
The foundation of his practical experience derives from having worked at the very grassroots of the various strands of urban communities for over 20 years. In this time he addressed and tackled issues such as first-generation organized crime and the Jihadist deviant sub-culture ingrained within it. Issues addressed ranged from murderous gang violence, mass distribution of illegal drugs through to financial fraud.
Usman Raja regularly received community-based referrals and began tackling issues such as professional criminality, gang crime, drug/alcohol abuse, violent extremism, and reactionary absolutism amongst others.
His work continues today.
“Although Mr Raja is clearly not a gangster, he is a product of the same environment, can talk the talk, and demonstrates a degree of toughness that those within the radical extremist movement respect from a street level perspective.”
Dr Douglas Weeks
“Charismatic, driven, and unrelenting in the face of death threats—and that’s difficult to replicate.”
2009 - 2015 95% Pro-Bono Rehabilitation Work with Convicted Terrorists
2012 CNN's Caging Terror - Documentary following Usman Raja
2015 Keynote Speaker at 51st West Point Senior Conference
2017 Trained LAPD Counter-Terrorism Team