Muay thai is a sport that’s known for a few things – power, efficiency and simplicity.
One of the most popular martial arts in Singapore, it doesn’t take someone who does muay thai to appreciate the beauty and excitement of the sport.
Those who have watched a muay thai fight will know exactly how thrilling it is to see two people sparring, pitting not just their strength but their technical prowess against each other as they throw it down in the ring.
As spectators of the sport, often, it can seem like fighting and being a fighter is all about winning – but it is in fact about so much more.
With the inaugural Asia Fighting Championship (AFC) – an event dedicated to the sport of muay thai – coming up, we decided to ask some of the fighters what it means to be a fighter not just inside, but out of the ring. Here’s what they had to say.
If this is a face you find familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen him at the recent SEA Games – the first time Singapore was represented in muay thai at the Games since 2008.
Bryan got his first taste of muay thai at the tender age of 12, as he was often picked on for being a “tiny guy” growing up. He was drawn to the sport as it is the art of eight limbs; you learn to be a complete fighter by using your hands, legs, elbows and knees.
After his first fight at the age of 14, he’s gone on to compete in numerous competitions including IFMA Royal World Cup 2015, IFMA Youth World Championship 2016, 5th Asian Beach Games, and the IFMA World Championship 2017.
When asked what his favourite part about fighting is, he says, “To hit, to get hit by a stronger opponent, and to WIN!”
What it means to be a fighter:
“Being a fighter in muay thai is to be someone who has a lot of heart and determination. One that doesn’t give up. You have to be strong and ready at all times,” he shares.
Outside the ring, muay thai has also instilled in him many lessons.
“Muay thai has taught me respect, to honour not only my parents, but also my teachers. Apart from helping me stay in top physical condition, muay thai has helped to supplement me with a good support system in the form of the great brothers and friends I have met along the way.”
He adds, “To be at the top of the game, you have to keep persevering, and [you have] to give 110 per cent each time. This principle applies to life outside muay thai as well. I will never give up — I will also strive relentlessly towards my goals.”
Bryan will be going up against Hong Kong’s Pan Ieong at the AFC. This will be his first ever pro fight.
With his lean physique, you wouldn’t have guessed that Wynn is a huge fan of McDonald’s.
As a child, Wynn watched a fair bit of martial arts movies. It was this that inspired him to want to learn how to fight, and at age 15, he started training.
The more he trained, the more his passion and love for the sport grew, and it was just one year later that he fought his first amateur fight.
For him, the best part of a fight is winning and knowing that all his hard work during training has paid off. There is nothing he likes more than going head to head with his opponent, and “[seeing] who wants to win it more”.
What it means to be a fighter:
Wynn shares that in the context of muay thai, being a fighter means “Being disciplined to attend training consistently. Even during training, when no one is watching, you must still put in your very best because you are doing it for yourself and not for others.”
“In a fight, one must have the heart to fight, which means even when you are up against a highly skilled opponent and you are losing the fight, you’re still going to do all that is in your ability to put up a fight,” he adds.
In life, he believes the same principles apply.
He shares, “Muay thai has taught me to never give up no matter how tough training or the fight gets. I feel that life is like a fight too. Each day, there will be different obstacles and challenges that are placed in front of me but I press on and never give up until the goal is reached.”
Wynn will be going up against Malaysia’s Saifullah Bin Ismail at the AFC.
He says, “I am excited to put on a good fight and represent Singapore on our home ground. Knowing that my opponent is a much more experienced fighter, if I get a win over him, it would be my greatest win yet.”
Never Throw In The Towel
Being a fighter is not simply a matter of knocking out your opponent in the ring. It is a matter of putting in the work, putting in the time, and putting on a fight, even if the odds are stacked against you.
On 23 September, Bryan Tee and Wynn Neo will be among the 6 representing our country, going up against top champion fighters from Korea, Macau, Malaysia, and more at the inaugural AFC.
Watch these talented fighters battle it out for the title of champion, and all the glory that comes with it.
Happening at Marina Bay Sands Singapore, the event is jointly organised by Muse Fitness Club Singapore and Axseed Events.
Advance Tier tickets (corner) are selling at $58; Advance Tier at $81.35** (U.P. $91); and VIP at $117.05** (U.P. $133). Get your tickets here.
Asia Fighting Championship
Venue: Hall A, Sands Expo And Convention Centre at Marina Bay Sands
Date: 23 Sep
Price: VIP: $117.05** (U.P. $133) | Advance Tier: $81.35** (U.P. $91) | Advance Tier (Corner): $58
**These prices are discounted exclusively for DiscoverSG readers.