Rafi's date with destiny
Late bloomer Rafi Majid is gunning to become S'pore's first male pro boxing champion
In about a month, the spotlight will be on Rafi Majid, as he guns for the Universal Boxing Organization (UBO) Super Middleweight Asia Pacific title.
But first, he had to deal with the glare of the spotlight, literally, yesterday.
Rafi, 36, who runs his own diving company, was at a press conference at Penny Black with other fighters, for the Roar of Singapore event on Feb 17.
Later, with beads of sweat trickling down his forehead, Rafi told The New Paper sheepishly: "This is the first time I've even been part of a press conference.
"The lights, everything.... I wasn't expecting anything like this. It's surreal.
"It's a very big step for boxing to have a press conference like this... but personally, it was nerve-wracking."
But, even as he came to grips with being grilled by the press, the UBO Super Middleweight Asia Pacific belt nearby caught his eye.
For the title bout, the Singaporean, who is unbeaten in three fights, will be up against Indonesian Jonathan Simosora (23 wins, 29 losses, five draws). The latter was not present yesterday.
Rafi, who made his pro debut only last April, gushed: "It's really pretty, isn't it? This is the first time I've laid eyes on it... I have this thing for white belts.
"Seeing that belt gives me more drive, and now I will tell myself that this is real.
"Being my age, this is also a platform for me to prove to myself, my friends, my family, that you can do this even if you're a late starter, like me."
The Roar of Singapore event, organised by local company Ringstar Management, will be headlined by a UBO light heavyweight world title fight between New Zealand's Samuel Rapira (15 wins, 3 losses), against Canadian Ryan Ford, who is undefeated in nine fights.
Being my age, this is also a platform for me to prove to myself, my friends, my family, that you can do this even if you're a late starter, like me.Rafi Majid
It will also feature two other top Singapore boxers, Ridhwan Ahmad (5-0-0) and Nurshahidah Roslie (4-1-0). All three Singaporeans are signed by Ringstar.
Ringster was founded last September by Briton Scott O' Farrell, whose ambition is to make Singapore a top boxing destination.
He has also pledged to donate a cut of the ticket proceedings from the Roar of Singapore to the Singapore Amateur Boxing Association (SABA), as he hopes to bridge the gap between amateur and professional boxing.
Yesterday, O'Farrell said: "We are here to stay, because we are here to grow this sport... We're going to show the world that this is the destination they should be at.
"We don't have the Pacquaios or Mayweathers right now. But it doesn't mean we won't.
"We're going to find them and develop them; we're going to keep our feet on the ground, and make Singapore very proud."
Local boxing legend Syed Abdul Kadir, the 1974 Sportsman of the Year, hailed the Roar of Singapore event as one that would kickstart a new era for local boxing.
"In the 40s, 50s and 60s, Singapore was known as the mecca of professional boxing," said Kadir, who is the president of SABA.
"It died down because of promoters who were not really in it for the sport.
"But now with Scott and Arvind (Lalwani, local boxing coach and promoter), I'm very sure boxing will rise again.
Event: The Roar of Singapore
Date: Feb 17
Place: Foochow Building
For more information and ticketing details, please visit theroarofsingapore.peatix.com.