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KUALA LUMPUR, 23 March 2017:
“Aiman Abu Bakar is one of the best boxers from Malaysia today.” Such is the accolade given by American boxing magazine The Ring – which has featured legends like Muhammad Ali to Manny Pacquiao – since it began publishing in 1922.
It it’s latest issue, The Ring (also referred to as The Ring magazine or Ring TV) tempered this high praise by stating: “That’s not hyperbole or exaggeration; there are only 11 pro boxers from Malaysia currently active in the sport.”
Even so, the publication readily acknowledged Aiman’s latest victory (bringing his career tally to 4-0) with a first ever knockout win against Gebby Manago (1-6) with a single right hand in the second round.
And the achievement is ever more significant because it was accomplished on foreign soil – Kuala Lumpur-born Aiman, 24, had relocated himself to Manila so as to be able to advance his professional boxing career.
“It was very hard to find boxing gyms in KL. We had to start from brothers and friends, we just had boxing gloves and mitts. (We’d copy) whatever we see on TV.”
Boxing had to come second growing up and Aiman – who studied public relations at IACT College – played professional soccer for Negeri Sembilan’s under-21 team in the Malaysia Super League.
Maintaining his childhood passion, and when a Malaysia Golden Gloves amateur tournament he’d been training for was cancelled at the last minute, he decided it was time to check out the Philippines, the region’s boxing hub, to pursue his dream.
“I was telling myself, ‘I can’t grow in Malaysia if I want to be a professional boxer. Plus the sparring isn’t good enough. Why don’t I go to the Philippines?,’” says Abu Bakar, who says his amateur record was 20-3.
He turned pro at the end of 2015, and now trains out of JMC Boxing Gym (also known as Makati Cinema Square).
And while Aiman has planned five fights this year in the Philippines, he has bigger ambitions next year. “If everything goes well, hopefully by the beginning of 2018 I can get a fight in Las Vegas.”