“My life became really interesting after I turned 17. That was four years ago, and a lot happened at the time. That was when my passion for food and boxing came together.

After my parents separated, I started living with my dad. I depended a lot on him for money because of our living arrangement. As I grew older, I wanted to ease his financial burden, so I decided to get a job once I was done with secondary school.

To earn some money, I worked with my mom at the SMRT canteen in Woodlands. She was a cook there, and working with her sparked my passion for cooking. I told her I wanted to be a chef, and after giving it some thought, I enrolled at Shatec.

I was still working with her when I was training to be a chef. I’d wake up at 3am, reach the SMRT canteen at 4, cook breakfast for the staff and then rush off to school at 6.30am. School was from 8 to 6.30, and once I was done, I’d return to the canteen to help her again.

That was my daily cycle until I stopped working with her to focus on my internship at Shatec. It was around the same time I picked up boxing. It was mostly an outlet to release stress.

There’s always heat and anger in the kitchen, and boxing was a good outlet when I felt like punching someone on certain days. I also wanted to lose weight and stay healthy. You work at least 12 hours in the kitchen, and boxing gave me the energy and stamina I needed.

The more I trained, the more boxing became a passion, and soon after I was preparing for my very first fight. It was back to my balancing act. I still had six months of school left after my internship ended, and this time I was helping my mom at her new café in Ang Mo Kio.

I’d wake up at 3am everyday to cook and help out from 4 to 7. Before school started at 8, I’d go for a 5km run. I’d run another 5km during lunch and again after school ended. I’d then go for boxing training in the evenings and ended my day with one final run.

I ran 20 clicks everyday in preparation for my fight. It was tiring and I lost so much weight because I had a fibre-only diet, but it was all worth it because I won my fight. I was disappointed because all my technique went out the window, but I’m glad I won by decision.

Looking back upon everything I went through, it just seems like one crazy journey. Today, I’m a Shatec graduate and working as a chef at Afterwit under The Black Hole Group. I’ve stopped working for my mom, and I’ve stopped running and boxing too.

Yeah, I was happy being skinny then. It was the first time in my life I had three to four girls looking at me. But I’m happy being fat too, and people should love me for who I am. So yeah, being fat is not a problem. Food is the best!” – Luqman, 21

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