ONE Athletes Share Their National Day Experiences

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Friday, 9 August, marked Singapore’s 54 years of independence from Malaysia.

Singapore came alive for its annual National Day, with a plethora of events organized all over “The Lion City” in celebration of this unique occasion.

We profiled the fantastic four of the Evolve Fight Team to see what our athletes were up to and how they spent this holiday.

The quartet of Aleksi “The Giant” ToivonenTroy “Pretty Boy” WorthenHiroki Akimoto, and Amir Khan is an interesting mix of new and homegrown Singaporean citizens.

Outside of their grueling auditions for the Evolve Fight Team’s global tryouts last November, Toivonen and Worthen are otherwise loving their Singapore experiences.

“My favorite part of Singapore is the diversity of people and cultures I am surrounded with each day,” Worthen explained. “Singapore is the epitome of the ONE Championship mantra ‘We Are ONE.’ People from all different nationalities, cultures, religions, and economic backgrounds living together peacefully and prospering. I’m just grateful to be a part of it.”

It was a night to remember as they headed out to commemorate National Day the only way they knew how – as a team.

“We trained throughout the day, and after that, we had a gathering with the whole fight team at Marina Bay to watch the fireworks. It was awesome,” Worthen said.

Worthen’s teammate, Toivonen, even had the pleasure of family visiting from his native Finland to share the National Day moments with.

Though far from home, the Finn has always enjoyed the support from his compatriots. He now feels extremely fortunate to be able to call Singapore his second home. Already, he has built some memories he will cherish fondly.

Winning my ONE Championship debut was definitely the most special memory since coming to Singapore,” Toivonen revealed.

As for hometown martial arts heroes, no one deserves that mantle more than Amir Khan. The Singaporean is one of the top lightweight martial arts talents in Asia and has built a stellar career off his finishing power in ONE Championship’s stacked lightweight division.

National Day holds significance for the 24-year-old, who just a few years earlier had completed his national service.

“To me, National Day is about celebrating how much Singapore has accomplished in such a short amount of time. I’m so proud to be able to call myself a Singaporean,” Khan said.

A new father to his five-month-old baby boy, Khan was happy to have spent such a meaningful occasion with his Evolve Teammates and family.

“We had food and drinks at Marina Bay, watching the events and seeing the fireworks together,” Khan said. “We’re very close as teammates, and it’s great to spend such time with people that I consider family.”

Unlike his teammates, Hiroki Akimoto did not quite know what to expect for National Day.

“I was initially really surprised because we don’t have such an occasion like [this] in Japan,” Akimoto explained. “I was pretty impressed, and I really enjoyed celebrating National Day for the first time with my friends and family.”

The Japanese flyweight has made quite the splash in ONE Super Series and was thrilled to be able to make the move to Singapore to join the Evolve Fight Team.

“The people in Singapore are so warm and welcoming, I really enjoy exploring the city with my wife and daughter,” Akimoto said. “Singapore is also such an ideal place to raise my daughter.”

Following the celebration, the team’s attention has most certainly shifted to Friday, 16 August, when their mentor Alex “Little Rock” Silva and fellow Evolve teammate Ryuto Sawada compete in Bangkok at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD.

Want to catch the latest action from ONE Championship? Watch ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD on Friday, 16 August on Toggle at 8.30pm Singapore Standard Time.

At 10:00pm SGT, Channel 5 will cut into the live broadcast, just in time for the main and co-main events.

To see the prelims, download the ONE Super App and tune in 6:30pm SGT.