by Jia Ying Chia
Youthful energy was on Sarawakian Muhammad Johan ‘Jojo’ Ghazali Zulfikar’s side as the 16-year-old Muay Thai fighter not only made his One Championship debut in Bangkok, Thailand, earlier this year, but won by unconditional knockout approximately 16 seconds into the match. Competing in the flyweight category, Johan defeated his opponent (18-year-old Thai national Padetsuk Fairtex) with a strong combination of punches that stunned the crowd and himself, as the referee declared Johan victorious.
“Right after I realised I’d won, the feeling of euphoria came to me. It was amazing. I felt like all my sacrifices and hard work paid off and i was able to make my supported and family proud,” he said. Johan trained extensively with his dedicated coach Addy Singpayak eight hours a day for a month and a half, to be ready and feels like his journey has just begun — with his sights on the One Championship belt.
Johan, who represents the Rentap Muay Thai gym in Kuching, Sarawak, added that he’s “extra motivated” by his family who are currently or have been Muay Thai fighters. “They know what I’m going through during training and during a fight so they are always ready to help. I feel very grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given and want to continue to prove that Malaysia and Borneans can keep up with other world class athletes as well.”