Kickboxing: It feels damn 'power', says S'pore's Nazri Sutari after milestone medals at Serbia Open

Singapore national kickboxer Nazri Sutari (right) won a bronze and silver medal at the Serbia Open on March 20, 2022. PHOTO: COURTESY OF NAZRI SUTARI

SINGAPORE - In Belgrade, a city that sits along one of Europe's most famous rivers the Danube, Singaporean kickboxer Nazri Sutari charted new waters for local kickboxing.

He picked up two medals at the Serbia Open on Sunday (March 20) which were worth more than their weight in silver (men's Under-74kg kick-light) and bronze (U-69kg) respectively.

After all, they were the first ones ever won by a Singaporean at any meet sanctioned by global body World Association of Kickboxing Organisations (Wako).

Nazri, 31, told The Straits Times on Monday: "In my (kickboxing) journey which began in 2019, I've suffered loss after loss in Wako competitions.

"So with this win I'm really happy because it's like I finally see some light at the end of the tunnel. It feels damn 'power'."

He is the top local athlete in a sport that is relatively young in the Republic.

National body Kickboxing Federation of Singapore (KFS) was formed in 2018 and received provisional affiliate membership from the Singapore National Olympic Council in June 2019, before becoming recognised as a national sports association seven months later in January.

Nazri said that as one of the sport's local pioneers, he often feels like he and the KFS are "treading uncharted waters". "But it feels like we finally found a good direction to move forward," he added.

He was also grateful for the support of others in the local combat sport fraternity, including national pencak silat head coach Sheik Alau'ddin, and national muay thai coach Robert Yap. Nazri trained with both before leaving for Serbia on March 10, saying his medals were a "testament to everyone's hard work".

KFS president Jason Lim said Nazri's results validate his efforts over the past three years, which include returning from a major knee injury which ruled him out of training and competition for almost the whole of 2020.

"I believe this is a precursor to his potential for greater things to come," said Lim.

"We hope Nazri's achievements can inspire the combat sports community to show that Singaporeans have what it takes to win medal at international tournaments."

With one milestone already set, Nazri is now looking ahead to the May 12-23 SEA Games in Hanoi, where he will be Singapore's only representative in the sport.

He is pencilled to compete in the U-71kg low kick category.

Singaporean kickboxer Nazri Sutari is the top local athlete in a sport that is relatively young in the Republic. PHOTO: COURTESY OF NAZRI SUTARI

Unlike the kick-light category where bouts take place on a tatami mat, the low kick style occurs in a ring and an exponent is permitted to knock out his rival.

To prepare for the SEA Games, Nazri will be staying in Serbia to train with Aleksandar Topic, a trainer with the Serbian national team, before heading straight to Vietnam.

Nazri will miss celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri in Singapore and he joked he has already requested a special feast from his mother upon his eventual return home. But he added he felt it was a price he is willing to pay to achieve his sporting ambition.

"My morale right now is at an all-time high," said Nazri. "I want to celebrate these medals, remember this feeling, and take it into my training.

"I've proved to myself what I'm capable of, and right now, I just want to carry this momentum forward."

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