People of Legends | Overwhelmed by the pressures of work and family life, Francisco finds balance and equilibrium in the sport of boxing.

“In Japan, people work so hard till late. There was a point of time where I was about to break. Between work and family, I was experiencing a lot of stress, and I just didn’t know how to manage everything. I was on the verge of a mental breakdown.

The social pressure is quite hard. But I’m Mexican, and as a foreigner in the country, you have to work even harder to prove yourself. I was overworked and I put my health second. I became overweight and I thought, ‘I have to do something about this.’

So I joined a group of guys who played soccer at a small school field every Saturday. It was a cool, fun group. We ate together, played soccer and then had coffee after. From there, I started to exercise more and eat more healthily.

But then the school expanded and they got rid of the soccer field. For several months, we didn’t know what to do. We played futsal, but it was expensive. We started to lose guys until the group eventually disappeared.

It was bad for me because soccer was my escape from work. On top of that, my daughters were growing up, so they needed more time from me to guide them through their teenage years. I didn’t know how to manage it all.

One day, my wife brought back a pamphlet she got from the streets. It was a boxing ad, and I asked her, ‘Boxing? Really?’ I did Taekwondo in my college days. I was not bad but I got injured quite badly and I stopped after that. So I wasn’t too keen on boxing.

But my wife enrolled me in a trial class and I actually enjoyed it. The coach from Japan was nice. I got hooked on it and went more often – early mornings; late at night. I was going three, four, five days a week and really got into the sport.

Boxing brought a sense of balance – and equilibrium – to my life. I started losing weight and became healthier. My mood changed and my daughters noticed; the office noticed. I was happier and doing better.

But just as I was getting into a rhythm, my family and I had to relocate to Singapore for work. I didn’t want to stop boxing. I was on the border of depression in Japan. So when I landed in Singapore in 2015, the first thing I looked for was a boxing gym.

I did find a gym and did some classes, but after some time, I stopped because they felt more like cardio classes. I was looking for something more serious. And that’s how I discovered Legends. I sent Ridhwan (gym owner) an email and started doing personal training with him.

Ever since I started training more seriously, I’ve become more connected to the stories of fighters. I mean I’m Mexican, and there are so many famous Mexican boxers. They all have hardships and they use boxing as a way to fulfil their dreams, prove themselves and help their families.

I recently participated in the bimonthly Legends Sparring Invitational. Before that, I had never competed before. At the age of 50, my wife and mum thought I was crazy. They said I was too old for this, but I was so excited.

I wanted to do it because to some degree, I feel like being in the ring is very similar to life. In the ring, you’re by yourself. You may get punched or knocked down, and regardless of whether you win or lose, you gotta stand up and keep going. That’s how things go in real life.

Boxing also connects me to a purpose. I train because I’m gonna be in the ring. It keeps me balanced. All of us are fighting our fights, in life and in the ring. If you can fight in the ring, you can fight in life.” – Francisco, 50

Interview by: Arman Shah