Raw appeal of grassroots boxing at The Ring Fighting Championship

Singapore boxer Hamzah Farouk (right) battles Thailand’s Paiboon Lorkham in his WBC Asia Continental super featherweight title defence at The Ring Fighting Championship. (PHOTO: The Ring Boxing Community)

SINGAPORE — It may not have the glitz and glamour of high-profile events such as the ONE Championship mixed martial arts fight nights at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, but grassroots boxing nights such as The Ring Fighting Championship on Friday (12 April) have a raw appeal that attracts fervent fans to the shows.

Granted, the talent level may not be as high, and the production value may not be as professional, but the 450-odd fans who each paid about $40 to attend the event were up close and personal to the action, being just a few seating rows from the ring.

They could see the boxers going through their pre-fight routines at the corner of the venue, The Ring Boxing Community gym at Kim Yam Road. They could hear the coaches barking out instructions and encouragements from ringside. They could even feel the pain of each thudding blow by the competing boxers.

Building fight records and ring experiences

For boxers, both professional and amateur, this is where they build their fight records and ring experience before going on to tougher challenges. For Singapore’s World Boxing Council (WBC) Asia Continental super featherweight champion Hamzah Farouk, who trains at The Ring, these fights are vital when he faces stiffer opponents in unfamiliar territory.

The 30-year-old was victorious in Friday’s title defence against Thailand’s Paiboon Lorkham, earning an unanimous decision from the judges after going the full 10 rounds.

Improving his professional record to an unbeaten 8-0, he told Yahoo News Singapore after his fight, “I felt I was in control of the match, and so I decided that, if I couldn’t land the knockout punch, I wanted to see if I can last the full 10 rounds. It was a good experience in fight management, my opponent didn’t land a serious punch, so I’m really satisfied with the fight.

“Fighting in my home country and home gym, definitely there was a bit of pressure to win in front of my family and friends. But hearing their loud support, I actually felt relaxed and ready to put on a show for them. I had a lot of fun.”

Singapore boxer Hamzah Farouk acknowledges the crowd after defending his WBC Asia Continental title at The Ring Fighting Championship. (PHOTO: Chia Han Keong/Yahoo News Singapore)

Letting the grassroots enjoy thrill of competition

This was the sixth edition of The Ring Fighting Championship since it began in April 2017, It is the brainchild of Monaco-born Ruchdi Hajjar, who is also the founder of the gym and event company Golden Glove Promotions.

A self-professed boxing nut, the 38-year-old opened the gym in September 2016 and decided to hold informal fight events to let boxing enthusiasts experience the thrill of competition. So “Friendly Fridays” was born, where boxers could spar and compete on “friendly” terms as the bouts did not come with judges’ decisions.

As the bouts got more popular, Hajjar decided to expand his amateur fight nights to include professional fights. He insisted on equal billing, meaning that amateur fights will not be lumped at the start of the event when the crowd was still coming in. During Friday’s event, for example, two amateur fights were scheduled between the two professional title bouts, underlining The Ring’s grassroots emphasis.

“We want to build and inspire a community of boxing enthusiasts that can support the sport in Singapore,” Hajjar told Yahoo News Singapore. “The transition from amateur to professional boxing is tough, and boxers need all the fight experience they can get. At the same time, boxing fans also want regular events to enjoy and cheer on their friends.

“So these are where The Ring Fighting Championship is targeting at. We don’t need to be the next ONE Championship, but we can work together to boost the community.”

Building closeness and friendship among community

Hajjar hopes to have four title fights by the end of the year, but is happy just to see smiling faces on each fan after every fight event.

“In a way, it brings my back to my younger days when I was so excited to see boxing matches,” he said. “You can see fans taking photos with boxers, congratulating the winners.

“It’s this kind of closeness and friendship that we hope to see among the boxing community.”

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