Boxing: New boxing event aims to bring back the roar

Singapore boxers Nurshahidah Roslie and Rafi Majid will feature in The Roar of Singapore on Feb 17.
Singapore boxers Nurshahidah Roslie and Rafi Majid will feature in The Roar of Singapore on Feb 17.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

It is a far cry from a title fight at the glitzy MGM Grand Garden Arena between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.

But aspiring professional Singaporean boxers could be given more opportunities to become champions by starting out in a more gritty and intimate setting.

By staging a new event in Singapore on Feb 17, Scott O'Farrell, the man behind Ringstar Management, hopes to give the sport's grassroots a boost. The Singapore-based professional boxing management and promotions company will host four shows this year.

For a start, next month's show, called The Roar of Singapore, will be held at the Singapore Foochow Association, which can hold 700 people at full capacity.

It will feature 14 fights including four Universal Boxing Organisation (UBO) title fights.

Founded in 2004, UBO sanctions title bouts worldwide.

O'Farrell, 46, a Briton based here who set up Ringstar last year, believes his enterprise can fill a gap in Singapore.

He said: "We're here to stay and we want to grow and develop the boxing scene here. I saw that there wasn't an existing pathway here for growth for those who are outside the world's top 100 and those who are making the jump from amateur to professional boxing.

"So I would like to give them a chance to compete at a world stage and for them to be proud that they can win major world titles."

Singapore Amateur Boxing Association president Syed Abdul Kadir, 68, hopes Ringstar's presence will lead to a revival of the sport.

He said: "Singapore used to be a mecca for boxing in the 1950s to 60s, when boxers from across Asia came to Singapore to fight, and events at venues like the Gay World Stadium were held every month. I hope that this event brings back the hype for boxing again."

Rafi Majid, 37, will aim to become Singapore's first professional male boxing world champion at the event. He will face Indonesian Jonatan Simamora for the UBO Asia-Pacific super middleweight championship belt.

Singapore's first female professional boxer, Nurshahidah Roslie, 29, became the UBO female intercontinental super-featherweight champion last June at the Singapore Fighting Championship 3. She (4-1) will take on Thai Ratsadaporn Khiaosopa in a non-title bout.

The chance to feature in the same fight card as professional boxers excites local amateur boxer Danish Husli, 20, who hopes to compete at the SEA Games in August. The Republic Polytechnic student will take on compatriot Spencer Zhang in an undercard.

He said: "This is the first time I'm involved in an event of this scale. Usually, just 100 people would watch amateur fights. So it's going to be an eye-opener for me."

Alvin Chia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2017, with the headline 'New boxing event aims to bring back the roar'. Print Edition | Subscribe