KUCHING: Training without a coach to become a champion in the national boxing arena in the 70s made Idris Bujang the first Sarawak-born boxer to represent Malaysia in the 1978 Asean Games after Sarawak helped form Malaysia in 1963.
He started his 21-year career in 1972 when he joined the General Operations Force Team and became the flyweight champion in the Sarawak Open Police Boxing Competition.
The four-time defending champion was selected to represent Sarawak in the 1975 Malaysian Open and won the silver medal.
He also won the Sarawak Open in 1977 in Sibu, qualifying to represent Malaysia at the 1978 Asean Games. He won a silver medal.
In the same year, Idris won the gold medal at the Malaysian Open in Sabah.
The last time he entered the national competition was the 18th National Championship in Sabah in 1981.
During his career from 1972 to 1981, most of his training sessions were without coaches.
Because of his deep interest in the sport, he bought a book, The Art Of Boxing by Jimmy Wilde, a world flyweight champion.
His success is largely guided by the book.
“All my training is 99 per cent guided by this book, especially on punching techniques.
“In addition, I focused on agility training and punching speed. This exercise is of utmost importance for improving stamina, strength, skill and speed,” he told New Sarawak Tribune sister paper Suara Sarawak recently.
Idris, 69, a father of five children, said he used to run every morning for 25km from his village, Kg Gita, to work at the air force camp in Penrissen.
In the afternoon, he would practice boxing at the camp for about two hours with other members.
“Previously, we did not have full coaches in boxing but Sarawak invited coaches from Japan to teach for a week.
“At that time, the coaches only taught the basics of boxing and the rest depended on us to practice what had been taught ourselves,” he said.
Food supplements were very important for physical endurance, he added.
He usually drank Milo, a chocolate and malt beverage, before training early in the morning besides eating boiled eggs.
“There were many sacrifices that I made for the sport. I have always received negative comments from some quarters that I will not succeed.
“To be a champion, our hearts must be determined and we must use any criticism to spur us to success,” he said.
Idris was the Sarawak Sukma boxing coach from 1994 to 2000.
“Based on my assessment, the weakness of our team now is that there is less pad training routine. It requires coaches to calculate the agility and time frame.
“This exercise is important for stamina when competing besides other defensive skills,” he said.
He said to be a boxing coach, one should have won several competitions so that their experience could be passed on.
He suggested that more boxing competitions be held to unearth new talents, and to give the existing ones much-needed experience.
“In my day, Sibu produced many young boxers.
“Currently, boxing is less organised because young people now are more interested in martial arts such as muay thai but I believe there are still those out there who are interested, if there are competitions,” he said.
“To promote boxing, sponsorship should be a key as well as in the development of the sport, without having to rely on the government to organise tournaments.”
“For example, Thailand is known for producing quality boxers as many big companies in their country sponsor them,” he noted.
He urged the younger generation to have a high level of commitment and confidence, to succeed in boxing.
“To be a champion, our hearts must be big even though our bodies may be small.”