TIME TO GIVE BACK, SAYS RIDHWAN
Ridhwan Ahmad has done Singapore boxing proud over the last four years, winning bronze medals at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games in 2011 and 2013.
He wants to do more.
Together with his business partner Fairuz Mohamed, the 26-year-old decided to open a boxing gym.
He did not dream it up, although the idea did come in an unusual fashion.
"I remember waking up one morning last September and just thinking: 'Let's open a boxing gym'," he told The New Paper, slightly sheepishly.
"I called Fairuz and he was also game.
"We started making calls, checking out locations, all those kinds of things, and here we are."
Ridhwan and Fairuz, who met three years ago while at Nanyang Polytechnic, decided to study the feasibility of opening a gym.
They pooled their savings and with some money from a sports event company they had formed together in 2012 called Sport Frontiers, came up with enough capital to start the venture.
The result: A boxing gym called Legends Fight Sport located along North Canal Road, opposite Hong Lim Park.
Costing around $50,000 to set up, the gym currently only has several punching bags.
But the two friends and business partners have big plans.
"We're focusing on coaching boxing now, but we'll be looking to include more fight disciplines in the future, and also at the possibility of expanding the gym itself," said Ridhwan.
"There's always this idea that MMA (mixed martial arts) will take over boxing.
"I personally don't think so, but it just goes to show the amount of interest there is in fight sports here.
"We want to be a platform for people to learn the proper skills in the sport."
Ridhwan is engaging the Singapore Amateur Boxing Association (SABA) in a bid to acquire quality coaching for the gym.
While the gym officially opens on Friday, they already have about 20 students taking up boxing lessons.
There are plans to introduce classes for children as young as seven.
Fairuz, an arts undergraduate at the National University of Singapore, said: "We want to promote boxing to the community and hope people embrace it as a sport.
"A lot of people simply view it as a violent sport.
"We want to show that it's about sacrifice, self-discipline, and that it can better you as a person."
Ridhwan says he is an example.
As a 17-year-old, he quit his mechatronics engineering course at Temasek Polytechnic after just one month because he was "lazy".
He worked as a cook for three years and picked up boxing after watching late night classic matches on the restaurant's television.
He began training with Syed Abdul Kadir, Singapore's Sportsman of the Year in 1974 who won a gold medal at the 1971 South-east Asian Peninsular Games and a bronze at the 1974 Commonwealth Games.
Ridhwan found his way again.
Last April, he graduated from Nanyang Polytechnic with a diploma in Sport and Wellness.
"Boxing has given me so many opportunities, I just feel I should give back to the sport," he said.
"It gave me belief and character.
"It made me realise how important education is, and that's why I decided to go back to school to finish my studies.
"I think boxing can help others realise their own potential, too."
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