Boxing couple united in their fight for glory

Boxing no longer threatens to create friction between Efasha and Husnie

NOT many Singaporean guys can lay claim to this statement: "My girlfriend is a SEA Games boxer."

Mochammad Husnie is one of those rare exceptions, as his partner Efasha Kamarudin prepares to become part of a pioneer batch of Singapore female boxers who will participate in next month's SEA Games.

The 29-year-old football coach does his bit to support her by planning and conducting her physical conditioning sessions.

But there was a time during their relationship when her boxing career threatened to drive a wedge between them.

Efasha had hidden her boxing involvement from Husnie at first, but when she had to leave for a training trip to Sri Lanka last November - just as Husnie was about to celebrate his birthday - she was forced to reveal the real reason to her boyfriend.

"It's never nice when you don't know the truth, it was a hard pill to swallow that she was boxing behind my back," Husnie said.

"I did not support Efasha boxing at first. My main gripe was that I did not want to see her hurt in the ring.

"And, if she goes out with me with bruises on her face, what kind of impression would that give of me as her partner?"

Husnie has since had a change of heart, deciding that he should be supporting his partner.

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He reasoned: "As a couple, we should talk and support each other. She's chosen this path and I can see her passion for it, so the best thing I can do is get behind her and give her all the help I can."

The couple are evidently on the same wavelength now, and Husnie even uses his football coaching background to help her in her training.

Efasha explained: "Sometimes in the ring I lose sight of the game plan and get frustrated easily. This makes me fight recklessly.

"I really need to learn to fight smarter."

So Husnie, who coaches at Japanese football academy Shoot, tries all he can to help her learn to stay calm and focused.

"I try to keep training (methods) innovative," he said. "We do physical conditioning work at Upper Peirce Reservoir, where it is close to nature and she can feel more at ease."

Having had a background in muay thai until picking up boxing two years ago, Efasha is candid about her difficulties in adjusting to a different style.

"It was hard to stop throwing my opponent at the start, as it is illegal in boxing, and my footwork also needed a lot of help," said the 24-year-old.

Since the start of the year, she has been put through a gruelling training regimen - boxing twice daily for six days a week, along with intensive physical training on three of those days.

The punishing training schedule meant that she had to leave her full-time job as a pre-school teacher. But she insisted: "No regrets. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be chosen to represent your country at the SEA Games. The job can wait, I just wanted to train as productively as I could.

"It's the first time Singapore are sending women boxers to the Games and I want to use this opportunity to prove that we girls can fight too."

She relishes the honour of fighting in front of home supporters, stating: "I'm the kind of fighter that will be spurred on by the crowd and I hope Singaporeans will be there to cheer me on."

One person certainly will be ringside roaring her on.

Husnie said: "I couldn't go for her overseas fights but this time I'll be there to support her every step of the way."

jslow@sph.com.sg

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