No guts, no glory


Jihin wants to prove those who think fight sports is not for women wrong.

Martial arts is starting to gain traction in South-East Asia, thanks to ONE Championship’s efforts in promoting local fighters.

ONE Championship is Asia’s largest sports property media company with a footprint in 138 countries and 1.7 billion potential viewers.

The Singapore-based mixed martial arts organisation was launched on July 14, 2011, by entrepreneur Chatri Sityodtong.

In Malaysia, things are picking up fast and more local athletes are making headlines.

There are about 10 athletes from Malaysia who have signed with ONE and this week, four of them – Jihin Radzuan, Mohammed Mahmoud, Saiful Merican and Ev Ting – will unleash their skills on home turf for the most-anticipated event on the Malaysian Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) scene – ONE: Masters Of Destiny, which returns to Kuala Lumpur.

(From left) Combat athletes Mohammed, Ev Ting, Jihin and Saiful will represent Malaysia at the ONE: Masters Of Destiny in Kuala Lumpur today.
(From left) Combat athletes Mohammed, Ev Ting, Jihin and Saiful will represent Malaysia at the ONE: Masters Of Destiny in Kuala Lumpur today.  

The event takes place today at the Axiata Arena, with kickboxing’s greatest rematch as the highlight of the night, featuring Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan who will be taking on Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy in a ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix quarter-final rematch.

While the martial arts industry is relatively new in Malaysia, there are local talents playing a pivotal role in the scene.

Among them are Keanu Subba, Agilan “The Alligator” Thani, Jihin “Shadow Cat” Radzuan and “Jungle Cat” Muhammad Aiman, who are all Malaysian Invasion Mixed Martial Arts (MIMMA) champions.

Following are excerpts from interviews with three of our local combat athletes:

Saiful wants to put an end to the stigma attached to professional fighters that they are violent.
Saiful wants to put an end to the stigma attached to professional fighters that they are violent.  

“Most people think fight sports is not for women and I wanted to prove them wrong.” — JihinJihin Radzuan is one of the inspirational figures in the local MMA scene. The 20-year-old atomweight fighter only made her ONE Championship debut in March last year, and is already carving her name in the combat scene.

She is also said to be a potential ONE Atomweight World Title challenger.

MS: How did you get into the sport?

JR: I was watching a Korean drama called The Roommate and I saw them doing MMA.

I immediately went to look for the best gym near my home, signed up and trained.

MS: What does it mean for you to be a fighter?

JR: Challenge the impossible. Most people think fight sports is not for women and I wanted to prove them wrong; that women fighting can be entertaining to watch too.

MS: What is your hope for the industry?

Mohammed (left) and his opponent, Greece’s Stergos Mikkios, at a previos ONE Championship fight.
Mohammed (left) and his opponent, Greece’s Stergos Mikkios, at a previos ONE Championship fight. 

JR: I want to see more audiences and more entertaining fights in this industry, similar to football or basketball. From there we could attract more sponsorship and pay-per-view for this sport.

MS: What are the important factors to be a fighter?

JR: It is all about discipline, dedication, self-control and honour.

MS: Tell us about your training programme. What do you focus most on? Is it stamina, strength or technique?

JR: I always focus on enhancing my technique for this fight camp, as well as trying a new style of fighting.

In my previous three fights, I used all the same styles and that has put a hole in my performance because my opponents could pretty much read my strategy.

Now, I experiment with new styles and always look for a new way of fighting to enhance my technique and skills.

“Fighting teaches you to be disciplined and respectful.” — Mohammed

Mohammed Mahmoud or  “Jordon Boy” started to develop an interest in Muay Thai after watching The Contender Asia 2 television series.

After losing three fights in a row, his fight this week will be redemption for the 23-year old.

MS: How did you get into the fighting sport?

MM: In 2016, I watched a fight on TV and from there my interest in the sport grew.

When I was 18, I started to learn Muay Thai after school and so it just came to me.

MS: What is your strength or favourite move in Muay Thai?

MM: For Muay Thai there are only four things – kicks, punches, elbows and knees. I prefer my punches, that is my favourite.

MS: What does it mean to you to be a fighter?

MM: At first, it started as a hobby and then I joined competitions and from there, I decided to make it my career. I think people can now make money from being a fighter.

Previously in Malaysia, our pay was about RM1,500 so I thought I couldn’t go far by just doing Muay Thai. When I joined ONE Cham-pionship, I started to make money and now people can take up Muay Thai as a career.

MS: What is your hope for the industry?

MM: My hope is for the industry to grow without any politics. In Malaysia, there is a lot of favouritism in Muay Thai. This makes

it hard for people to grow as fighters.

I hope one day there is strong leadership to carry this sport forward. No corruption. There are a lot of ups and downs in this sport.

MS: What are the main factors to be a fighter?

MM: You must be hardworking and disciplined enough to train hard. Being a fighter is very good because it trains one to be disciplined and respectful of other people. It’s not just about learning how to fight.

MS: How do you get over a loss?

MM: In the past, I rarely lost in fights but after I joined ONE Championship, I lost three times in a row. It was something new for me and I was quite upset.

But it’s part of the game, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. But losing three times is unforgivable, so I need to keep pushing myself.

MS: Tell us about your training programme. What do you focus most on? Is it stamina, strength or technique?

MM: Nowadays I focus on my stamina. If you don’t have the stamina you can’t use your strength and technique. If you have the strength but no stamina, you

can’t do anything because you are tired.

So this time, I’m focusing on stamina. I have been doing a lot of jogging and speed training.

“Testing yourself in the competition after learning any martial art is the best way to learn.” — SaifulSaiful Merican, dubbed “The Vampire”, will face fellow countryman Mohammed in a bantamweight category fight this week at Arena Axiata. From Terengganu, Saiful, 30, has been in the combat sport since he was 11.

He made his name in Muay

Thai and kickboxing until he saw the growth potential of the cage and made his debut in MMA in 2013.

MS: How did you get into the sport?

SM: Sports has always been a big part of my life. My dad was a big football fan and he was disappointed that I wasn’t very good at it.

“Muay Thai was popular in the northern states back then and I started competing at the age of 11.

MS: What is your favourite strike or strength to use in any fight?

SM: My favourite striking methods would have to be my kicks and elbows.

MS: What does it mean to you to be a fighter?

SM: It’s the discipline in training and the mindset you put yourself in. It’s pushing your body to its limits and also listening to yourself to know how far you can go.

Testing yourself in the competition after learning any martial art is the best way to learn.

MS: What is your hope for the industry?

SM: It’s to remove the stigma that it is violent. If you have met any professional fighter in person, I can guarantee you they are probably the most respectful people you will ever meet.

MS: What are the main factors to be a fighter?

SM: Discipline, have the heart to not give up and strength, of course.

MS: How do you get over a loss?

SM: It’s not easy for fighters

to accept defeat. What you go through in training and all the expectations.

But it’s important to tell yourself that it’s a job and to stay positive.

If you lose, just go back to the gym and train harder the next one.

MS: Tell us about your training programme. What do you focus most on? Is it stamina, strength or technique?

SM: I started off this training camp focusing on stamina and strength to build my body back up after almost two years of not competing. That included weight training, body conditioning and lots of jogging/sprints.

Towards the second part of the fight camp, I started focusing on techniques. I haven’t competed in Muay Thai in almost six years.

But it is my bread and butter and sparring sessions with my team are helping a lot.


   

Across The Star Online


Air Pollutant Index

Highest API Readings

    Select State and Location to view the latest API reading

    Source: Department of Environment, Malaysia