Family. That is what drives Aiman Abu Bakar. Growing up, his mother was a fan of the late Muhammad Ali – the main reason behind his interest in boxing or as he calls it, “a beautiful sport”. Before a fight, the local boxer also tunes in to his brother’s tracks to pump himself up, which allows him to feel closer to home.
Already hailed as one of the best boxers Malaysia has seen in a very long time, Aiman’s rise to the top has been nothing short of incredible. He has earned himself the privilege of being Manny Pacquiao’s undercard. This has been a dream come through for the athlete and the most memorable moment of his career.
“As a kid growing up, I used to look up to the Senator, Manny Pacquaio. I used to have posters of his fights and his wallpaper in my room. So having the opportunity to be handpicked to be making my homecoming fight as his undercard, is the biggest moment for me,” said Aiman.
“Even if one day I were to become a world champion, I will forever cherish this moment – to be able to fight as the undercard of your idol, as well as making an appearance in front of your home crowd,” he added.
The boxer who has an undefeated record of 9-0, including four knockouts, remains unflustered under pressure. Unlike musicians who are largely affected by the energy from the crowd, this sport is a totally different ball game.
“In the case of boxing, I want to get stage fright, but it’s nearly impossible because you won’t be thinking about the audience and the atmosphere. You will be so in tune, thinking how do I avoid getting hurt,” said Aiman. Once you’re in the ring, it’s all about “how do I dismantle my opponent,” he added.
However, it’s not been all rosy for one of Malaysia’s best sporting talents. Training camps prior to a fight can be extremely dark and lonely. But Aiman chooses to look on the bright side and focuses on the positives. He attributes his success to his heart, will, desire and intelligence.
The sportsman has also been a natural athlete, having represented his school, district and state, Negeri Sembilan in football. Aiman also obtained a professional contract for his exploits but decided to swap football boots for a pair of boxing gloves.
“When I was playing football professionally, I realised if I was going to train six times a week for football, why don’t I pursue something that I’ve loved since I was a kid, which is boxing,” said Aiman.
For someone who has mostly had good days and massive success, Aiman’s dedication and humility is humbling for all. On his off days, he rises at 6am and heads for a run. He then spends the rest of the day at home with family, over a meal. While there’s still a long way to go to becoming a world champion, Aiman has already done Malaysians proud.
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