‘Saya akan cuba terbaik’ is not good enough

Aiman Abu Bakar speaks to the media after beating Indonesia’s Abdi.

Speaking in public can be scary and many avoid doing so.

I am the same but was forced to compete in a public speaking competition by a teacher when I was in secondary school.

It was a terrifying experience but somehow I finished third … which was great as only the top two went on to compete in other competitions.

I really dodged a bullet there!

But being in the media and public relations line since 1995 has made me realise how important it is to speak clearly and informatively.

Many times journos struggle to “goreng” stories as the athletes are unable to express themselves or come out with the cliche “I try my best/akan cuba yang terbaik”, “bola itu bulat” (the ball is round) or state the bleeding obvious.

If only they had someone training them how to handle interviews.

As such, it was refreshing speaking to mixed martial arts fighter Jihin Radzuan and boxers Aiman Abu Baker and Theena Thayalan last week.

The trio destroyed the myth fighters have more brawn than brains.

I had dinner with Jihin before her ONE: Pursuit of Power encounter with Indonesian Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol and spoke to her immediately after she won on Friday.

On both occasions, Jihin, despite being only 20, was articulate, funny and had her road map to a world title bout planned out.

Jihin Radzuan entrance
Jihin is articulate, funny and a joy to interview. – Picture by ONE

It was indeed a refreshing change from the usual interviews I have done through the years.

It was the same for Aiman, 26, who maintained his perfect record when he scored his eighth professional victory on Sunday by beating Indonesia’s Abdi.

Aiman now dreams of fighting for a championship belt in front of a larger audience in Las Vegas.

Theena, who like Jihin is only 20, earned a draw on Sunday despite fighting with a dislocated shoulder.

He, too, is undefeated with five victories plus the draw against India’s Siddharth Ravindra Varma and also dreams of being a world champion one day.

Both pugilists were on the undercard of the Lucas Matthysse-Manny Pacquiao World Boxing Association welterweight title fight.

Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman selfie boxing
Syed Saddiq did not visit the Malaysian boxers although he did have time to take a picture with Duterte. – Instagram

Sadly for Aiman and Theena, despite Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu and Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman attending the event, none visited the boxers.

While Dr Mahathir had protocol to follow as Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte was present and left after the main event, Syed Saddiq should have at least visited Aiman and Theena.

The Muar Member of Parliament, who is the youngest minister in Malaysia’s history, is all for youth empowerment but sadly failed to meet two youths making waves in boxing.

At least his deputy Steven Sim walked out with another mixed martial arts fighter, Agilan Thani, at ONE: Pursuit of Power on Friday.

It is still early days, but hopefully, those in power realise sports is an important uniting factor and sportsmen and women should be embraced.

Separately, Pacquiao’s decision to stage the fight in Kuala Lumpur is part of his desire to spread the love of boxing.

He plans to continue fighting all over Asia, even though he is already 39 year old.

Sadly, not everyone is on the same page as Pacquiao as the organisation of the fight left much to be desired.

From the lack of hype and information to the promoters packing up after Pacquiao’s fight despite having four bouts left, many were left wondering what was going on.