Go for the Gold!
The Borneo Post SEEDS writer DANIELLE RINGGIT @danitbpseeds goes toe to toe with some of Sarawak’s state boxers.***
THE BOXING CENTRE at Matang Jaya looked just how I imagined it before I even got there: An open space with large mirrors and punching bags hanging from the ceiling. To complete my vision of it, the state boxers were also there undergoing their daily training under the close supervision of their coach, Fred Mandagi.
Sweating profusely, focus and concentration lined their faces even though it was only a training session. These boys were serious about what they were doing, perhaps imagining the gold medals right in front of them.
During their training session, I had the privilege of talking to some of these young boxers and get some insight on their daily routines and their thoughts in preparation for the upcoming Sukma.
“I’ve trained hard and promised to do my best so that I can bring back the gold medal,” was what 20-year-old boxer Mohd Aisamuddin Muhammad said.
Having been involved in boxing for seven years now, Kuching-born Aisamuddin will be competing in the highly-anticipated Sukma XVII in Perlis from May 24 to June 4.
Previously Aisamuddin was able to seize golds in the 56kg at the National Youth Circuit series in Selangor and Penang.
With the constant support and strict supervision of his coach and also his idol, Aisamuddin and his fellow teammates undergo four hours of training everyday, six days a week (two hours in the morning from 8-10 am and two more in the evening from 4-6 pm), Aisamuddin seems ready and well prepped to win the gold medal this upcoming Sukma.
Even during his day off from training, he goes for a jog to keep in tip-top condition.
According to Aisamuddin, the sport helps him stay in good physical and mental condition. When asked what he found difficult about the sport, he replied that there was nothing difficult in doing the things that you enjoyed as long as you were zealous and patient in learning about the things you are passionate about.
Aisamuddin also added that for those who wanted to join boxing, they would need to have a high-level of self discipline and perseverance in the combat sport.
Aside from Aisamuddin, our hopes of winning the gold medal this year also rests in the hand of 20-year-old Mohd Zamzurin Asram from Matang.
Zamzuridin is competing in the 49 kg category in Sukma this year and has previously won a silver medal in the Kelantan series and a bronze in the Negeri Sembilan series last year.
Like his teammate, Zamzurin also cited coach Mandagi as his idol and inspiration and hopes to bag a gold medal this year.
His involvement in boxing started about five years ago. After completing Form 5, Zamzurin’s brother, Mohd Firdaus Sanram, who won a bronze medal during Sukma 2010 in the 60kg category, had become actively involved in boxing and asked whether the then fifteen-year-old Zamzurin would be interested. Ever since then, he found himself enjoying it more and more and became actively involved in boxing.
Typically before every match, it is natural for athletes to feel nervous and sick to their stomachs. This is no exception even for the young talented boxer.
“Nervous? Of course, it never goes away,” he had answered when he was asked how he felt before every match. Despite his nervousness, though, he always gives his best and, as his coach often remind him and his teammates, stays alert and focused at all times.
As soon as the matches are over, relief soon replaces his anxiety. Zamzurin said that even if he loses a match, he takes it in his stride and moves on but of course, winning would be great as he is hoping to score the gold medal for Sarawak.
Newbie Gary McQuin Johaniss, 20, of Lundu said that this would be his first time participating in Sukma and will be competing in the 60kg category.
He’s excited about his first time participating in Sukma and fully intends to bring a medal home regardless of whether it is a gold, silver or bronze medal.
Gary had completed six to eight months of Muay Thai training prior to switching to boxing and has been boxing for about three to four months.
“Boxing for me is really fun and enjoyable but getting punched in the face is tough, though,” he jokingly said when asked what he thought was the most difficult thing in boxing.
Sukma, an acronym for ‘Sukan Malaysia’ or Malaysian Games was first held in Kuala Lumpur in 1986. The sport event was once held every two years until 2011 when it became an annual event, and is often viewed as a high-end national level competition, dubbed the ‘Malaysian Olympics’.
On April 11th, Assistant Sports Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin made a visit to the state boxing team’s training centre and said that both young boxers had good potential in winning the gold medal this year based on their performance in the national youth championships last year.
He also added that five of the potential medalists, Gary McQuin, Aisamuddin, Zamzurin, Ahmad Amirulfadzli and Omar Kuin will be going to Pontianak, Kalimantan, Indonesia from May 1 to 16 for training in order to gain more exposure.
Other members of the state seven-strong team are Readyson Keloni and Lawrence Kelian.
Sukma XVII boxing competition offers eight golds and the categories to be competed are 49kg, 52kg, 56kg, 60kg, 64kg, 69kg, 75kg and 81kg.
So, in the spirit of winning, go get ’em boys! Bring us back some gold medals!