Causes Week 2018: Using sports for good, teen rebel learns to channel his energy

Professional boxer Muhamad Ridhwan started the TCW Cares Programme, which selects a handful of at-risk youth to train with him at his Legends Fight Sport gym for free.
Mohammed Narish Mohamed Noh (at right) being coached by three-time SEA Games bronze medallist Muhamad Ridhwan during a training session, under The Chosen Wan (TCW) Cares Programme, which provides free membership for at-risk youth to train at Ridhwan'
Mohammed Narish (right) being coached by three-time SEA Games bronze medallist Muhamad Ridhwan during a training session, under The Chosen Wan Cares Programme, which provides free membership for at-risk youth to train at Ridhwan's Legends Fight Sport gym.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

TCW Cares Programme helps youth discover boxing potential

Playing truant and smoking while underage, Mohammed Narish Mohamed Noh was a rebellious teenager without direction in life, and even his parents could not keep him in check.

All he knew was that he had a penchant for fighting, which often got him into trouble. So much so that when he was 16, he was sent to a boys' hostel for a year.

Today, Narish is 19 and still fighting, but with a purpose - thanks to boxer Muhamad Ridhwan's The Chosen Wan (TCW) Cares Programme, which provides free membership for at-risk youth to train at his Legends Fight Sport gym.

In June last year, Narish was recommended to Ridhwan by Trybe, a charity that conducts mainstream school programmes for youth and interventions for at-risk youth.

Narish had been on Trybe's GRYT (Growing Resilient Youths-in-Transition) service, which provides continued support for mid to very high-risk youth offenders aged 13 to 21.

Three-time SEA Games bronze medallist Ridhwan said: "When a case worker from Trybe introduced Narish to me, I was sceptical as I thought behaviour is quite hard to change. But, at the same time, I wanted to give him an opportunity.

"So when Narish came, I told him to join the regular classes. I didn't give him any special attention. I just gave him a gym to train in. I told him, 'If you fight outside for whatever reason, you are out.'

"We had a few other boys, but Narish was the only one who kept coming back and showed the desire."

This September, Narish boxed in The Ring Fighting Championship's Elite Amateur Series, winning his debut flyweight bout.

 
 

"With his background, even before the competition, I felt he had already won," said Ridhwan, who himself was cleaning toilets at a cramped dormitory in Cebu in the Philippines three years ago, trying to prove he could cut it in professional boxing, and now has a pro record of 11 wins in 12 fights.

"But to go out there and knock someone out in the boxing ring, I think it is amazing. For his first fight, I knew his opponent was much better, and I was telling the people next to me that my boy Narish is not that good, to be honest, but he has got heart, and heart is something you cannot teach."

Though he was not technically ready, he wanted to win and prove to himself and others that he deserved to be there, said Ridhwan.

Narish said he was grateful for the opportunity and has made many changes in his quest to become a better boxer.

The ITE College West student said: "Now I have a gym where I can express myself and rather than fighting with others outside, I can divert my energy in a positive way in the right place.

"Training with Ridhwan has made me a healthier and more disciplined person... I'm also doing a car mechanic course, and training five to six times a week. I am removed from my negative place.

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    Nicole Chia

"Ridhwan is a really good role model who sharpens my boxing skills and is proof that hard work pays off."

Applications for TCW Cares Programme open every three or four months, with the next window in April, and Ridhwan is looking for youth with desire and discipline.

The 31-year-old said: "Since I've had quite a lot of attention on me recently because of my pro boxing career, I want to put it to good use for a good cause and create something that lasts. This TCW Cares Programme gives me a chance to give back. All I need is to look around and there are many opportunities to care for someone. Boxing has given me many opportunities and I believe other young people can benefit from it.

"Narish is a good example of what can happen with our programme... I hope we can bring up more boxers and they can achieve what they want in the boxing ring and also in life."

• For more information, e-mail Muhamad Ridhwan at ridhwan@legends.com.sg or visit his Facebook page at fb.com/tcw.legends

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2018, with the headline 'Teen rebel learns to channel his energy '. Print Edition | Subscribe