Mature Amir plays it smart
MMA fighter says he's ready for Nov 11 bout as he juggles training and NS duties
Mixed martial arts fighter Amir Khan is making the best of his current full-time national service (NS) stint, although the 21-year-old finds himself doing guard duty every other weekend at a Singapore Civil Defence Force camp.
The weekend duty, which means one cannot not book out of camp for the day, is not a punishment of any sort for the Evolve MMA exponent.
But it is an agreement the 1.80m-tall fighter made with his commanders, in exchange for time-off to train during regular working hours.
"I am willing to do anything so that I can still compete," said Amir yesterday at Evolve's Far East Square gym.
"All my camp mates know about my involvement in MMA and they are supportive and, along with some of my officers, they even went to watch my last fight."
He is preparing for a lightweight bout against Belgian Samir Mrabet at ONE Championship's Defending Honor event on Nov 11 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
A typical day for Amir, who turns 22 on Nov 5, goes like this - book in to camp early in the morning, leave for Evolve Far East Square at 9am or after lunch, train for two hours, return to camp for duties till 6pm.
Depending on his energy levels, Amir may train a second session after work, and sometimes during weekends as well. His father ferries him between Evolve and his camp.
While some sportsmen lament the decline of their athletic abilities during their full-time NS stints, Amir feels that his progress has not been disrupted due to his conscription.
The secret, he said, is training smarter and more efficiently.
He said: "Before I enlisted, sometimes I would be tired, but still did it for the sake of it... I wouldn't try to understand what I was doing, or go out of my way to do some research.
"Now, before every session, I put some thought into what I want to achieve, be it my jabs or counter or defence, so that there's something I am looking forward to work on instead of working blindly.
"Also, I would do my own research and talk more to my coaches; we have a lot of world champions (in Evolve) and they would give me advice on what I should focus on."
With his schedule, Amir has little time for leisure and less recovery time than full-time fighters, but he believes his age allows him to bounce back quickly physically.
Amir, who has a 5-2 record and is on a two-fight winning streak, plans to go full-time when he finishes his NS stint next May, and hopes to be given a shot at the lightweight world title in the next two years.
He said: "After this fight, I hope to fight one of the top contenders soon, and hopefully get a title shot in lightweight or featherweight at the end of next year, or in 2018."