For SEA Games first-timer, Muay Thai is his life
Singaporean fighter Tee, who sleeps six nights a week at the gym, aims to be a world champion one day
To say that Bryan Tee is devoted to the sport of Muay Thai is perhaps an understatement.
The 19-year-old trains for seven hours a day, six days a week, and incorporates a 15km run, 1,000 push-ups, 500 sit-ups, and 300 squats daily to get himself fighting-fit for his SEA Games debut in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
He even sleeps in Chowraiooi Muay Thai Gym on the fourth floor of the Golden Mile Complex, where he trains, for six nights a week, to facilitate his training.
"In the mornings after my training, I go to school and after that, I go back to the gym to train some more," said the ITE College Central student, who goes home on Sundays - the one day in the week he doesn't train.
"It is difficult to balance both Muay Thai and school. But this is my life and I absolutely love it."
Tee, who is 1.68m tall, picked up the sport at age 12 because he was picked on for being "tiny".
"I first picked up Muay Thai because I was picked on for being a tiny guy growing up.
It is difficult to balance both Muay Thai and school. But this is my life and I absolutely love it.Bryan Tee
"I chose Muay Thai because it is the art of eight limbs, and you learn to be a complete fighter, by using your hands, legs, elbows, knees. I have never really liked ground grappling, but I like the Muay Thai clinch.
"Fighting is my life and it is all I can think about," said Tee, who will compete in the Under-54kg category at the SEA Games.
"I have never been able to make good friends in school, but Muay Thai has given me the opportunity to make amazing friends, and I feel like I have found my purpose in life.
"I have always been quite a tiny guy, but this sport has given me the confidence and strength to deal with life."
Tee is no stranger to competitive Muay Thai, having won a silver medal in both the Asian Beach Games in Vietnam, and the IFMA Youth World Championships in Bangkok last year.
"I have a dream, and nothing is going to stop me from being a world champion," said Tee, who admits that a title bout at the famed Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok is still out of reach for now.
He said: "I want to attain the WBC Muay Thai belt in due time, but the focus remains the SEA Games right now.
"I am very honoured to represent Singapore and I will be fighting for as long as I am able to. I am going to go all out for my country."
Chowraiooi gym owner and Tee's trainer Roberto Lewis Yap believes that Tee has what it takes to be a world champion one day.
Said the 44-year-old: "He is the most hardworking athlete I've had in all my years of coaching.
"Singaporean boys have commitments such as school and national service, but that has not stopped Bryan. He wants to represent the nation.
"I saw potential in him when he walked into my gym two years ago and I decided to give it a go. I believe he can be a world champion. He is young, motivated, self-driven, and he has the physique of an athlete to cope with the rigours of world competition."
Yap added: "You cannot hit what you cannot catch and that is the type of fighter he is. He is lightning-quick, has heavy punches, and he is skilled with his kicks.
"He pushes himself like a work horse. He doesn't stop and sometimes I need to tell him to pull back to make sure he does not injure himself.
"This is just the beginning for him."