I started boxing when I was 15. Back then, I’d get into a lot of school fights because I needed to vent my anger. I wouldn’t look for fights, but if someone wanted to fight, I would. Why? Well, I grew up in a broken family and I just had a lot of anger management issues then.

Once I picked up boxing, I learnt how to control my punches and be more disciplined. I remember picking it up quite fast – in one or two weeks, maybe? I also fell in love with the sport itself because it’s just different from other kinds of martial arts.

No, I didn’t do it consistently because I was more active in sepak takraw at the time. It was only after National Service that I really got involved with the sport. I was 20, and other than part-timing as a bellboy, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in life, so I went back to boxing.

Actually, I was really considering doing Muay Thai. When I discovered that Juggernaut Fight Club offered both Muay Thai and boxing, I signed up. The rates were decent and I could afford to pay for the classes, so I started training and have been with the gym ever since.

I focused mainly on Muay Thai at first, but after I turned 21, my coach Arvind asked if I wanted to compete in boxing. I just agreed and said yes. It was a really scary experience because my first ever boxing fight turned out to be for the national novice tournament.

I remember feeling tired during both my fights in the tournament, but I kept moving around, countering and pushing forward. I was too scared to throw hard punches too, but in the end, I’m really glad to have won the whole tournament.

Two years have passed, and I’ve turned pro since then. My coach told me I had more potential in boxing than kickboxing, so when he asked me if I wanted to go pro, I thought why not. The idea scared me, but I really like doing things that scare me.

My pro record is currently 4-0. I think my toughest fight so far was against my last opponent. He was 38 but very fit for his age. He was built like a rock, I did not expect to be fighting someone like him.

The fight went all the way to the sixth round. I knew he was gassing out and I wanted to knock him out, but he kept clinging on to me to catch his breath. He was also shorter, and every time I missed, he’d get too close. I ended up winning that fight by decision.

Vision for myself? Well, I injured my right hand during training, so I really want to heal it first. But ultimately, I turned pro because I really want to go all the way and have a good career in boxing. I don’t know much about the different championship belts, but I want them all.

In school, I remember people laughing at me when I told my teachers that I wanted to be a world champion boxer. It was just a dream then, but if it happens now, it’s a good way to prove to people that I can do it. It’s really okay if people laugh. You just have to believe in yourself.” – Muhammad Ashiq, 23


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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.