People of Legends | From having his heart broken by a girl to being a fighter, the boxing coach opens up about his transformation.

“I was that fat kid for most of my childhood. I just remember liking to eat a lot in school. You cannot find many photos of me from back then because I tried to avoid taking pictures as much as possible. I would also wear a lot of hoodies and sweaters to hide my silhouette. 

I rarely checked my weight when I was younger; I was too scared to find out what it was. But one time, while I was on holiday with my family, I felt curious and stepped on one of those weighing scales you find in the hotel toilet. My weight was 97 kg.

Photo: Hafiz Spencer

Yes; I was made fun of by other kids. My name is Afiq, but my friends would call me Ah Pig, or Ah Bui, which is ‘fat boy’ in Chinese. But I never felt bullied or victimised. There were just kids being kids. I was mentally quite strong; I knew this kind of stuff would pass one day.

I started growing facial hair in sec two. So every time I walked past the mirror, I felt like a freak because I’d see the reflection of this fat, hairy kid looking back at me. But honestly, I enjoyed being fat. You could eat whatever you want and nobody would say anything. 

Whenever my friends couldn’t finish their food, they’d let me finish it. Even my family treated me like their trash can when we went out to eat. I actually considered being a competitive eater when I was younger because I loved eating so much.

Photo: Hafiz Spencer

But things took a turn when I was 16. I was going through puberty and, you know, developing feelings at that age. I really liked this girl in class, although I had no intention of telling her. I did tell another classmate, but this classmate broke my trust and told her.

When the girl found out, she went up to me and said, ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t like fat boys.’ Wah! I wasn’t even planning to confess my feelings to her, so I didn’t really care what she thought of me. But that kind of changed everything.

From then on, I took care of my diet a little bit more. I was that person who never passed his NAPFA test. I failed my 2.4 km; shuttle run; standing board jump. But suddenly, I took PE classes more seriously. I actually made an effort to run.

Photo: Hafiz Spencer

I was never the athletic sort, but I googled sports that can make you lose weight the fastest. A lot of sites suggested boxing. To cut the long story short, that’s how I started training at Legends Fight Sport many years ago.

I was always interested in boxing, and I wanted to try fighting because I had never competed in anything before. When I expressed my interest to fight to our Head Coach Ridhwan, he asked what my weight was.

At that point in my fitness journey, my weight had already dropped to 64 kg, which to me was already a big drop. But he said, ‘Wah, so heavy ah?’ [laughs] He told me there was a boxing event in two months. If I wanted to compete, I’d have to drop to 56 kg.

Photo: Singapore Boxing Federation

I did the maths in my head and wondered if I was able to lose 8 kg in two months. During that time, my father and I had also started doing marathons – like 42 km marathons. So on top of boxing, running helped with my weight cut. I made 56 kg and had my first fight.

Today, I’m a full-time coach at Legends. I decided to go into coaching because I really want to see the change in others. I really don’t judge, but sometimes, when I see relatives who have been a certain size all their lives and they don’t do anything about it, it saddens me.

Of course it’s amazing to train boxers and send them for fights, but not everyone will want to compete. Most people join a boxing gym to lose weight, and I want to help them in their journey towards achieving their goals.

Photo: Hafiz Spencer

We have a boxer named Arz who was quite a big guy when he first came for a trial class. He told me he was going through certain things in life and had gained weight. Now, I see him at the gym everyday to train, and it’s so fulfilling to see his transformation and weight loss.

I think the journey towards weight loss starts with you. If I could tell the younger version of myself anything, it’s that the girl doesn’t matter anymore. Whatever mean things people say to you doesn’t matter. What’s important is your own happiness and taking care of yourself.” – Afiq

Interview by: Arman Shah