SINGAPORE - He fought hardship growing up as an orphan. He was hoping to make it big as a fighter in the boxing ring. But all that came to nought when, on the cusp of his big day, he ended up facing a protracted fight to live.
Sadly, Shahril Salim lost that battle - and Singapore lost a potential star. The budding local boxer died on Nov 27, two years after a collapse during training left him with a serious brain injury.
The 23-year-old former ITE College East student had been preparing to make his debut in a show at Marina Bay Sands in November 2012 when tragedy struck during a group sparring session at the Juggernaut Fight Club in Boat Quay.
He had been bedridden and unable to speak since the incident and had to be fed through a tube in his nose.
On Nov 27, he developed a high fever at his sister's home in Jurong West and stopped breathing in the ambulance. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the Singapore General Hospital.
We look back at his fighting spirit through reports from The Straits Times Archives.
Shahril's rocky road to the ring spurs him to succeed
THE REPORT WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE STRAITS TIMES ON OCT 12, 2012
Boxer Shahril Salim, smiling and affable before, lowers his voice when asked why he got into the fight game. Those around him also fall silent as he tells the story.
"I am an orphan and this is my chance to do something after all the struggles I have been through in my life," says the 21-year-old.
"My dad passed away when I was nine through illness and my mum died when I was 10.
"After that I shifted from one house to another to stay with relatives. I was very close to being sent to an orphanage but my sister Lisa took me in. She had 10 children and adults staying in her four-room flat but did her best and gave me what she could."
The sense of hurt and hardship is clear in his voice, even as he sits and talks as a strong and powerful man about to make his professional boxing debut at Marina Bay Sands on Nov 9.
Boxer fights for life after collapsing before debut
THE REPORT WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE STRAITS TIMES ON NOV 9, 2012
Shahril Salim was supposed to be making his debut as a professional boxer at Marina Bay Sands tonight. Instead, the 21-year-old is now fighting for his life at the Singapore General Hospital.
He was rushed to hospital for emergency brain surgery on Oct 28 after collapsing following a group sparring session at the Juggernaut Fight Club in Boat Quay.
Shahril fighting for his future, one day at a time
THE REPORT WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE STRAITS TIMES ON JAN 20, 2013
Shahril Salim can only blink slowly to communicate. One day, he may be able to learn to walk again. For now, the smallest movement in the tips of his fingers seems an exquisite gift.
At the Bright Vision Hospital on Lorong Napiri in Hougang, the 22-year-old boxer is recovering from a brain injury suffered in a sparring session on Oct 28.
Spencer Oliver, one of Britain's most promising boxers who went into a coma after being knocked out in a fight in 1998, understood Shahril's plight.
The Briton, who works as a television pundit and runs his own gym, said: "It sounds like Shahril has real fighting spirit and I hope that he continues to get better.
Shahril's not throwing in the towel
THE REPORT WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE STRAITS TIMES ON NOV 2, 2013
Twelve months after the accident that stole his boxing dreams, the former ITE College East student's struggle continues.
"Some doctors told us that he was on the verge of dying and that they had done everything that they could," explained his brother, Jufri, who takes care of Shahril along with his wife Surayah Akbar, their three children and a maid in a three-room Housing Board flat in New Upper Changi Road.
"But he kept fighting and can still respond to us. He can't talk but he can raise his hands to answer a question or blink his eyes.
"We ask him if he wants to carry on and he always says 'yes'.
"He is inside his body but can't get out and we will help him for as long as it takes."