Boxing: Long-serving president Syed Abdul Kadir steps down due to health issues

Syed Abdul Kadir at national team training in March with heavyweight Dinie Hakeem and bantamweight Hanurdeen Hamid (both rear left). His deteriorating health prompted his family to urge him “to pass the baton”. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

SINGAPORE - Syed Abdul Kadir, a man synonymous with local boxing for over five decades, has stepped down as president of the Singapore Boxing Federation (SBF), the national association told The Straits Times on Friday (July 8).

SBF committee member Faisal Hussain said that Kadir, 74, had retired from his post, which he had held since 2009, in May.

Kadir wanted to "spend time with his family and friends" and take care of his personal well-being after recent issues with his health, added Faisal.

John Thirunavukarasu, Kadir's deputy, will serve as the SBF's interim president until a successor is elected at the association's annual general meeting late next month.

"(Kadir) had been contemplating retirement for some time and with increased health concerns, he felt that it was timely for him to take a back seat for the sport," added Faisal.

"He also has been grooming younger members to take on the reins for the sport and was more confident of the progress he has seen over the past term."

Kadir's daughter Hani, who is caring for him, explained that his health issues began at the start of this year, with the usually energetic septuagenarian often feeling tired.

"We found that his (blood) sugar level was low, and then he later also suffered from Covid-19," said Hani, 42. "Later on, the doctor did a brain scan and discovered he had blood clots in his brain. So he had a stroke but it was not an acute episode... It was a slow one."

This discovery and the deterioration of Kadir's health prompted his family - he has two children and five grandchildren - to try and convince him to relinquish his post at SBF for his own good.

"It was a very difficult decision to take, and when we as a family spoke about it, he stared at the wall thinking hard about it," said Hani.

"But we told him it was time to pass the baton. Nobody can go all out like he did, but hopefully there will be someone out there who also cares for the sport like he did, and can run it."

Kadir, who boxed at light flyweight (up to 48kg), had a storied career as an athlete, winning the South-east Asian Peninsular Games - now known as SEA Games - gold medal in 1971. He competed at the Munich Olympics the following year, defeating Italy's Gaetano Curcetti in the first round.

He also claimed a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1974, a feat which earned him the Sportsman of the Year award a year later.

He retired from competition in late 1976 and transitioned into a sports administrator in the SBF, which until earlier this year was still known as the Singapore Amateur Boxing Association. Kadir served as national coach, honorary secretary and vice-president before becoming president.

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