Rolling with the punches

> This feath­er­weight boxer is land­ing knock­out blows in the in­ter­na­tional box­ing arena

The Sun (Malaysia) - - YOUTH -

have to pre­pare for a com­pe­ti­tion, I’d travel to the Philip­pines for my train­ing camp since my man­ager, match­maker and coaches are based there. It’s a hard and gru­elling three months, but the end re­sult is grat­i­fy­ing.

Know­ing how vi­cious box­ing can be, were your par­ents OK about your join­ing this in­dus­try? They were scep­ti­cal at first – con­sid­er­ing the na­ture of the sport and the in­juries in­volved – but I promised them that I would learn box­ing earnestly and that I will pre­vent my­self from get­ting hurt as much as I can.

Which de­ter­mines a match: skills or strat­egy? It is said that box­ing is 90% men­tal prepa­ra­tion and 10% skills, and I agree with this. If you’re a skilled fighter, but you’re not psy­cho­log­i­cally pre­pared, then you stand a higher chance of los­ing. When you’re on the rink, men­tal war­fare takes up a huge part of the game and it’s im­por­tant for you to be heart­less. You can’t feel sorry for your op­po­nents be­cause there’s no such thing as a sec­ond chance.

What is the life­span of a pro­fes­sional boxer? As com­pared to foot­ballers whose ca­reer peaks from 17 to 27 years old, ours only truly be­gin when we hit our 30s. Our early 20s is the time where we learn the game and build a good foun­da­tion, whereas the 30s is when you start fight­ing in the big arena. In fact, 46-year-old Bernard Hop­kins is the old­est boxer to win a world cham­pi­onship. So, it’s a bit like life ac­tu­ally – the older we are, the bet­ter we get.

If you can spar with any­one in this world, who would you pick? I’d love to fight Manny Pac­quiao and Ar­turo Gatti. The lat­ter, who un­for­tu­nately passed away in 2009, was very much a real-life ver­sion of Rocky Bal­boa. De­spite be­ing con­stantly beaten up, he was al­ways vic­to­ri­ous.

Win­ning is his only fo­cus dur­ing box­ing matches.

He likens him­self to a cat be­cause they both have sharp re­flexes.

Ai­man Abu Bakar is a pro­fes­sional boxer with big dreams.

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