MOST of us would probably be content with running for about 20 minutes a day. For Faizal Ramli, however, he takes his workout regime to a whole different level.

“I run for about two hours in the morning and I have to cover at least 10km in distance. Then later in the evening, I’ll run for another 5km,” he said during an interview at a gym in Kuala Lumpur.

Faizal, 23, is not training for a marathon but instead, he’s a professional Muay Thai fighter and his training does not just consist of running at least 15km at day.

“I then have to practise my fighting skills in the gym with my trainer, a former Muay Thai fighter himself. For me, training starts from 8.30am with the run, and then it goes on until 7pm.”

Faizal believes that training is essential for anyone who wants to make it in the brutal, unforgiving Muay Thai scene. This combat sport which originated from Thailand is not for the faint-hearted.

Muay Thai fighters are allowed to punch, kick and even use their elbows and knees to take down opponents. It’s even referred to as the “art of eight limbs”.

“To be a good Muay Thai fighter, training and discipline are two very important elements to hold on to. You got to train hard to be fit, so you can stand your opponents’ hits. Discipline is essential to make sure you don’t skip training.”

The strict discipline factor was the main reason why Faizal got into the sport in the first place. He grew up watching the sport at his hometown in Pasir Puteh, Kelantan and subsequently at the age of 15, he decide to get into it – much to his parents’ dismay.

“I had to go for training and competitions secretly. My parents weren’t too keen of course, as they thought that the sport was dangerous.”

But it seems as if Faizal was destined to be a Muay Thai fighter and even recalls his first match with such fondness.

“I was feeling nervous yet proud that I finally got to be in the ring. My first fight was against a very experienced opponent and the match ended with a draw!”

Just last year, Faizal was the only Malaysian to earn a spot as a competitor on The Challenger Muay Thai. The reality show featured 16 world-class fighters competing for the ultimate title of Muay Thai World Champion. For Faizal, the experience was unbelievable.

“With the show, more Malaysians became aware of the sport. I was also proud of the fact that for people like me, who has been in Muay Thai for a long time, we got our long-awaited international recognition.”

Faizal is currently training vigorously for the upcoming Kuala Lumpur Muay Thai Challenge 2012 and is hoping to keep up his hot streak. Most recently, he knocked out a Brazilian fighter at the prestigious Royal Kelantan Boxing Challenge 2012.

Faizal revealed what keeps his fighting spirit going.

“I have to admit it’s not easy sometimes. When I train and I feel like I can’t go on any more, I think of my family and siblings back in Kelantan. I have 10 siblings and I’m the fourth child, and I’ll remind myself to keep going for my family.”


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