The rise of a champion

Fadhil Yunus

Brunei Darussalam youth champion Luqman Hakim rose to the top of the boxing pyramid in the country after a remarkable journey which began when he was subjected to bullying because of his weight during his primary school years.

The unfair experience of being picked on ultimately led to his decision to pursue boxing amidst his shattered self-esteem.

“I joined boxing in early 2018. I’m currently at school at Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE) in Seria. The reason I took up the sport was because when I was growing up, I was often teased for my weight,” said Luqman.

“I made up my mind to become healthier. Slowly but surely, I managed to lose my weight.” After experiencing a traumatising past that affected his self-confidence, Luqman turned to boxing, prompting a search for a new coach. He ended the search after local boxer Muhammad ‘Irfan bin Haji Abdul Razak, who signed a professional deal with Jeff Mayweather, agreed to work with him.

“It helped me with the discontent from those who hurt me.”

Luqman Hakim’s finest hour came in his competitive debut in July 2019 when he emerged champion in the catchweight 64kg category of the 5th Amateur Boxing Championship at the Indoor Stadium of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex.

Luqman Hakim (LEFT). PHOTO: FADHIL YUNUS

Organised by the Brunei State Amateur Boxing Association (BSABA), the competition featured boxing talents in the country who showcased their skills in a competitive setting.

As Luqman prepared for the tournament, he said, “I trained for three months before it started. I really took care of my food. I did not eat rice for a month.”

His strict training at one point saw him lose 20kg after having initially weighed 86kg.

Prior to fighting in his current division, Luqman could have been entered in the light heavyweight category – which is three divisions below. However, his decision to drop down a few divisions led to him losing weight in a span of four to five months.

“I run every day. When I wake up in the morning, I discipline myself and sometimes before I go to school, I run on the treadmill,” said the 20-year-old.

Throughout his development, Luqman continued to receive positive advice from the boxing community. “When I first joined boxing, I wanted revenge because of the people who bullied me, but someone told me that the best revenge is to show them that you must win the match.

“I worked hard to win the match and after that I was really satisfied to become the Brunei youth champion,” said Luqman, recalling what it meant to win a major domestic event.

“It was like a dream come true. I really like boxing and I want to go further to go for more fights. I also want to fight outside the country.”

His victory called for a moment of both personal and sporting triumph, especially to others who have been in a long suffering by bullies.

“No one bullied me after that, after I lost my weight.”

Looking ahead, Luqman set his sights to join a major international competition in seven years’.

Sharing some advice for enthusiasts looking to take up the sport, the youth champion said, “You really have to work hard in boxing because it is a tough sport.

“At first, you will feel like giving up because you need a lot of stamina and endurance as well as cardio work. When I was in the boxing competition, I felt like giving up but the person in the corner reminded me why I was here. That made me stand up and fight.

“If people want to join boxing, they must take it seriously. Boxing will also help you lose weight easier than other sports,” he said. “Boxing involves a lot of movements especially the head, hand and the legs including skipping and rope work.”

He added that shadowboxing also forms as part of the training especially for those who intend to take up the sport for both recreational and competitive reasons.