A chapter of local sport was closed yesterday, after the National Boxing Championship was held at the Farrer Park Boxing Gym for the last time.
The Straits Times reported on Saturday that the Singapore Amateur Boxing Association (Saba) will vacate the gym at Rutland Road, which has been its home since 1968, by the end of the month. It will move to Bedok Sports Hall.
The move is the first step towards national sports agency Sport Singapore returning the Farrer Park fields - hallowed ground for local sport since the 1930s - to the state by mid-2020, for residential redevelopment.
Saba president Syed Abdul Kadir, the 1974 Sportsman of the Year and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, said he was saddened by the impending closure of the gym at Farrer Park.
But he added that he was heartened by the wave of young boxers coming through the ranks.
"You saw today how there were so many good, exciting fights featuring the younger boxers," said the 70-year-old.
MEN'S 49KG: Mohd Ariff (Kadir Boxing School) bt Shakthi (Farrer Park Alliance) 3-0
MEN'S 52KG: Hanurdeen Hamid (U2Can) bt Prithiv Raj (Kadir Boxing School) 3-0
MEN'S 56KG: Muhamad Hafiz (Legends Fight Sport) bt Danial Abdul Jalil (Kadir Boxing School) 3-0
MEN'S 64KG: Tay Jia Wei (Juggernaut Fight Club) bt Velvan Tan (Legends Fight Sport) 3-0
MEN'S 69KG: Leong Jun Hao (Independent) bt Dinesh Kumar (Farrer Park Alliance) 3-0
WOMEN'S 60KG: Nur Sabrina (Vanda Boxing Club) bt Samantha Quek (Evolve) 2-1
"Like Velvan Tan, for example. He's only 18 but fought very well today. We're sending him for the Youth Olympic Games qualification tournament (the Youth Asian Boxing Championships) in Bangkok on April 19, and hopefully he can do well."
Velvan said his goal was to win the 64kg weight class at the competition in Thailand, even though a top-eight placing is enough for him to earn a spot at the Oct 6-18 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The ITE College East student admitted he had no strong emotional attachment to the Farrer Park boxing gym, as he mostly trains with his club, Legends Fight Sport, which is led by Singapore's top professional boxer Muhamad Ridhwan. Not that Kadir is bothered.
"All these young fighters today showed heart in their fights," he said. "And that's the most important thing to have, and take to the next venue."
The National Boxing Championship was first organised by Saba in 1929 and is an annual affair.
The gym at Farrer Park is one of the host venues which also included the now-demolished New World and Gay World Amusement Parks.
As the competition came to a close yesterday and, after most of the 120-strong crowd had cleared the gym, national amateur boxers from past and present gathered in front of the ring to take one final picture inside the gym.
As they did that, a young boy was quietly practising his uppercut on a small punching bag at the corner of the gym.
Eight-year-old Sasha Roche, who has been taking boxing lessons at the Spartans Boxing Club with his father Regis for about 11/2 years, said he was inspired by yesterday's action.
"I want to be like them," he said with a toothy grin, while pointing to the group of fighters with medals round their necks.
"One day, I hope to be a world heavyweight champion."