Sunday, 24 August 2014

A 16 Year Old Amateur MMA Fighter Can Teach Us So Much About Sportsmanship

I recently filed a story about one of ours, a 16 year old Singaporean schoolboy who is fast making a name for himself in the world of amateur Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).  I am truly proud of him obviously because I am a Singaporean, and I want to give the boy some recognition even when MMA as a sport is sadly lacking much- needed  support and funding from the establishment.

Sim Kai Xiong is fairly new to the amateur MMA scene.  He fought on the amateur card  at Full Metal Dojo 2 on Saturday, 23rd August in Phuket.  Full Metal Dojo is Phuket's first professional mixed martial arts (MMA) event, put together by its CEO Jon Nutt, to build awareness for the sport in Thailand and provide a platform for an exchange of mixed martial arts skills and experiences amongst professional MMA fighters from all over the world.

Kai Xiong, is a 16 year old Nanyang Junior College student, who is an MMA and boxing protégé currently being trained by head coach Arvind Lalwani and Emalo Urratia at Juggernaut Fight Club in Singapore.    He is a national youth champion, and an amateur MMA prospect who had been training at Juggernaut Fight Club only for the last 7 months.

His last fight was at Rebel Fighting Championship in Singapore where he impressively dominated his opponent and beat him through a submission by an armbar.  At Full Metal Dojo 2, Kai Xiong was the only foreign fighter on the amateur card and his was a difficult fight as his 22 year old Thai opponent put up a series of vicious attacks with his round house kicks.  The fight had to be stopped a few times when the amateur fighters violated the amateur rules with some elbow shots.  Kai Xiong clearly dominated the cage with a very strong ground game though, a strategic move knowing that Muay Thai could potentially be his achilles' heel against his Thai opponent.   He finally won in the 3rd round by the judges' unanimous decision.  

Having watched the young protégé train during my kickboxing training sessions at Juggernaut Fight Club, I had observed this boy's strengths in boxing and grappling. However, beyond his skills, I felt an air of quiet maturity about him.   His maturity as a fighter in spite of his youth, is an edge as he approaches his fights with a lot of composure, determined to always be in control by timing his chances.  When he had to face an older and significantly more experienced Muay Thai expert, I did not see any hint of fear in his eyes.  Although he was cornered by his very experienced coach Emalo Urratia who had won his fight against Seiha Pich at Full Metal Dojo 1 in June this year, Kai Xiong did not display any hint of over-confidence.  In fact, at the Full Metal Dojo 2 weigh-in event, it was obvious that he just wanted to get the show on the road, win this, and then fly back home in time to make it for school on Monday.  When I asked him if he was ready for his fight, he said very confidently, “The team at Juggernaut Fight Club had been working on my overall game. Thanks to them, I am ready for anything."

I liked his quiet confidence founded on his training mantra of No Ego.  While I have come across true sportsmen in professional sports, I wished more athletes and even some professional MMA fighters could have that same quiet confidence and humility as this boy.  

Kai Xiong told me that he detests arrogance in sports.  Like Kai Xiong, I detest arrogance and inauthenticity in sportsmanship.  I have absolutely no respect for "Manufactured Sportsmanship". 

I know of sports organizations which "manufacture" top-tier athletes who obviously turn an event into a biggest pay-per-view just because they manipulate decisions from who should be on the judging panel to who the opponents should be.   

I get annoyed when I hear of sports organizations who pre-select a weaker opponent to be fed to a stronger fighter just because they want to garner positive media interest around the latter.   

I dislike athletes who spent a long time nurturing a base of young fans who watched everything they had said or done in awe, promising to inspire a genuine love for fitness, respect for discipline and determination in sports, only to turn around to tell the world that they want to be the biggest box office hit in Hollywood.   

Most of all, I dislike professional MMA fighters who  talk about the sport of MMA being one that is not about the glitz and glamour, yet turn up at the cage with  pomp and pageantry of a Mardi Gras.

So yes, I am extremely proud of Sim Kai Xiong.  At his tender age of 16, he had started off on the right foot with the right training and the right attitude worthy of a sportsman.  Singapore should indeed be proud of him.  

I have  immense respect for true sportsmanship and an ardent love for MMA, so  I would definitely have my eyes glued on Sim Kai Xiong whom I know will be making it as an excellent MMA fighter in the professional circuit in no time.

The photo accompanying this blog post was taken by David Ash,

About The Writer

The writer of this blog post is a Marketing and PR professional for over 20 years.  Due to her love for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), she is also a freelance sports writer on the side, contributing MMA-related articles to several sports media.  She works in partnership with her husband, David Ash, who is an avid sports photographer from  She is passionate about Muay Thai and nurtures a dream to fight competitively one day when her coach stops making fun of her.  She is also a psychic intuitive by birth and runs a consultancy that does tarot and numerology readings under her brand, Sun Goddess Tarot.  This blog is affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" as she is married to one, although she has not yet explained to THE Ang Mo that when translated, he has been labeled  “the bloke with ginger hair”.  

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Rolling With Clark Gracie In Sunny Singapore

David's photography adventures had taken me places and exposed me to the 
adrenaline-charged intensity of contact sports in the last couple of years. This had led me to  a clandestine love affair that I have had with Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), and an undying passion for Kickboxing.  

During my Kickboxing training at Juggernaut Fight Club,  the guys would be having their Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) training session alongside me.  I always had fun watching them roll about in a twisted heap, some caught in a head lock, some in a rear choke and others in the midst of a takedown.  While my age had not stopped me from embracing Kickboxing as a passion, I certainly felt that the art of  BJJ should be left to those within the age bracket where they could still get an occasional pre-pubescent breakout of pimples. 

My erroneous perception was put to rest one Sunday afternoon by none other than Clark Gracie, the grandson of Carlos Gracie, the Grand Master and founder of the world famous Gracie Jiu-Jitsu academy.  

Some 15 Jiu-Jitsu enthusiasts of differing ages that spanned from under 10 years old to over 50, turned up for a seminar conducted by Clark Gracie last Sunday, at the Singapore Judo Federation. I was more awed by the vast age span of this group of Jiu-Jitsu students than I was with the different colour belts they had on their gi.

Noticing my inquisitive stare at the little girl warming up at a corner of the mat, Gracie told me that having to deal with this vast age span at the seminar was no different from the training environment he managed back home.   He was particularly adamant that Jiu-Jitsu students who started their training as children should make it a priority to have fun with the sport.  His advice to Jiu-Jitsu coaches training young children, was to always keep their students motivated by appealing to their sense of curiosity and play.   Once the priority scales tipped towards the pressure to win, the training would become a chore and it might take the fun out of the sport.  This advice was applicable even to adult students of Jiu-Jitsu.  Gracie encouraged all Jiu-Jitsu students to allow their body and mind to explore the sport freely and look to increase their knowledge and education of the sport constantly.

As a child, Clark Gracie was asked, "Do u enjoy Jiu-Jitsu?"  He had to think hard before answering the question because he came from a Jiu-Jitsu family.  It was a "family business" and he was, as part of the family, very much a part of it since he was a child.  However, he was brought up with the notion that only when he had fun with Jiu-Jitsu during training and embraced the sport with genuine passion, he could excel in the sport and the will to win would then come easily.

When asked if someone older would find age to be a barrier in his performance as a Jiu-Jitsu student, Gracie said that back home, he had personally known a student who had attained a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu at the age of 70. This student had started training in Jiu-Jitsu in his 50s.   Gracie never believed in age barriers. To him, the only barrier that could possibly limit one from achieving his of her goals as a Jiu-Jitsu student, was ego.

Clark Gracie won me at that point.  He was right on the button with the very mantra I led my Kickboxing training with - No Ego, No Barriers.

The photos accompanying this blog post were taken by David Ash,

About The Writer

The writer of this blog post is a Marketing and PR professional by trade and a psychic intuitive by accident who balances her corporate career with running a consultancy providing Tarot and Numerology readings.  She is also passionate about Kickboxing and has no qualms landing a kick to readjust the jewels of anyone who lacks integrity.  She enjoys supporting her husband and avid sports photographer, David Ash from on his trips around the world as he takes photos at sports events while she does the write-ups  for the various sports media.  This blog is affectionately named "The Crazy AngMo" as she is married to one, although she has not yet explained to THE Ang Mo that when translated, he has been labeled  “the bloke with ginger hair”.  Together, they create a home made up with more nuts than a fruitcake but filled with plenty of love.