My interest in boxing started in 2010 when I first saw my brother (Muhamad ‘The Chosen Wan’ Ridhwan) fight. He was competing in a regional tournament held in Singapore and he made it look so easy. It looked like he was on the PlayStation with a cheat code.

I was 19 then and had my own set of hobbies and interests, but I thought why not give boxing a shot? One day, our mutual friend Khairizal brought me down to Kadir Boxing School, and that’s when I started training under Coach Kadir.

Towards the end of my second month, Coach Kadir asked if I wanted to compete as a novice in the national tournament. I’m like okay, let’s just give this a shot and see how it goes. I ended up losing that fight.

I lost my first fight to a friend who had been training for four years. With his experience competing in a regional tournament, I believed he could have knocked me out easily, but he gave me a chance and took it easy on me. It was quite gentlemanly of him.

After that loss, I wanted to fight someone who wouldn’t hold back; I wanted to experience the real thing. I continued to train for eight months in preparation for my second fight, but that fight turned out to be a very tough one for me.

I was trapped in the corner and was on the receiving end of endless punches. My opponent was more aggressive and had better footwork and stamina. I wasn’t mentally and physically prepared for him. I lost; the fight was stopped in the third round after an eight-second count.

But that was the last stoppage I had in my seven-year boxing career. I’ve had a total of 35 amateur fights now, 25 of which are wins. I guess I didn’t give up fighting because a part of me knew I wasn’t done with boxing yet.

I actually considered a career with the Singapore Police Force. I applied, passed the interview stage and was given some time to consider if I wanted to take up the position. It was a make or break moment. In the end, I decided that I was still young and wanted to go far in boxing.

Best moment? I think I’ve yet to hit the highest point of my career. To date, I’ve won the nationals three times, and several competitions around the region, like the Pesta Pulau Pinang tournament in Malaysia.

Earlier this year, I won gold at the Hong Kong City Cup International Boxing Tournament. I also took part in the Asian Championships in Mongolia. I didn’t win, but I learned so much seeing the standard set by high-level boxers.

I think the biggest challenge is money. When you box at a higher level, you need money for equipment. You need a more secure groin guard, proper gloves which can cost up to $400. You also need to balance that out with paying house bills and giving money to your parents.

Lack of sleep is another issue. I now coach full-time and I wake up at 5am everyday to train clients. Balancing work and training can be hard. That’s why getting sponsors and more government funding would help, but I believe in making the best with what you have.

My goal right now is the SEA Games. It’s not just for the sake of attendance and saying I represented my country; I really want to get a medal. I qualified last year because I won nationals, but Malaysia didn’t offer any bouts in my weight class. I’ve dropped to 56 kg, so hopefully I get in next year.

Advice? I guess take that leap of faith towards your goals. Understand that when you take risks, you’ll have to be prepared for whatever consequences, but if you put in the work, do it sincerely and leave everything else to God, everything will fall into place.” – Hafiz, 27

Hafiz coaches at Legends Fight Sport. For personal coaching sessions, email him at muhdhafiz.legends@gmail.com



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Arman Shah

A former travel writer with fond memories of solo adventures in Southeast Asia, Arman is now Founder of The Everyday People. He's also the co-host of Channel Empathy, a podcast about the marginalised in Singapore.