By Hazwady, The Fight Scene
I caught up with Tiger Muay Thai MMA fighter, Nicholas Lee while he was waiting for his flight to return to Phuket, a place he called home for the past seven months. I didn’t know much about him. The last time I saw him was at Ultimate Beatdown 12, last August at Danga Bay Johor, when he put a guy to sleep with a rear naked choke. When I met him, he seemed like your ordinary cheerful, happy go lucky 18 year old Singaporean boy you would meet on the street. But he sure is not.
Nick left school at Secondary one. He has not been in contact with his dad for the past 10 years and his mum is currently serving time in prison. He have been living alone since January of 2013 to chase his dream of being the best MMA fighter in Singapore.
With a pro MMA record of 2 wins and zero losses and if you had seen the amount of punishment he endured by his opponent on his first pro fight, you know this kid is the real deal. Nick is currently training at Tiger Muay Thai and have trained with big names in the sport like Roger Huerta, Paul Daley, Brian Ebersole, Rob Lisita and Joe Ray. Nick is so desperate to have an MMA fight before enlisting into National Service on February 4th, that he told me he would fight for free.
When I asked him how National Service (NS) would affect his fighting career, he said. ”It will affect me a whole bunch because it (NS) is pointless, it’s stupid, it’s meaningless. It’s a waste of time, it blocks my way, it’s in my way, it’s annoying, it’s irritating, it’s just dumb!”
That’s probably in the mind of most Singaporean boys when they are about to enlist into NS. But for Nick, who believes that he has reached the standard to step in the cage with the same level of his idol, former UFC Lightweight Champion Jens Pulver, 2 years of military training without fighting could break his momentum.
I spoke with Nick’s former coach and friend, Major Overall from Impact MMA to share with us his thoughts regarding the situation. ”He’s got a lot of momentum going for him right now and I believe he’s ahead of the curve for mixed martial artists not only in Singapore, but in the whole south East Asian region. A two year hiatus will set him back quite a bit. Not only will he forget techniques, decline in sports specific conditioning and lose the confidence and momentum, but the rest of the competitors from nearby rival countries will be increasing in level while he’s away. That’s the most difficult part for any athlete trying to make a comeback.”
In a recent report in The Straits Times, the government had granted swimmer Joseph Schooling’s request to defer his National Service obligation, enabling the 18-year-old to focus on training until after the 2016 Olympics. Minister for Defence, Ng Eng Hen made a statement in Parliament, ”As this appeal satisfies all the conditions for deferment of exceptional sportsmen, the Armed Forces council has decided to grant deferment for Mr Schooling for full-time NS till 31 August 2016 in order for him to train and do well in 2016 Olympic Games. He will be enlisted for full-time NS once his deferment ends.”
It would be wishful thinking that the Government would do the same for Nick as what they did for Joseph and it’s really sad to see that one of the brightest prospect in Singapore will ultimately get hurt due to National Service. I can only hope that Nick will continue chasing his dreams despite the challenges that he will have to go through, from living alone at a young age in a foreign country to having to come back due to his obligations with the nation and beyond.
Nicholas Lee will be competing at a Muay Thai event on 10th and 17th January in Thailand.
[spacer style=”1″ icon=”none”] This article was first published in “The Fight Scene” , visit the site for the exclusive audio interview with Nicholas Lee.