KOTA KINABALU - Newly-crowned national featherweight champion AJ Lias Mansor (pic) felt the strong winds, the storm and the heavy rain when he was training in Manila several weeks ago.
"I could only imagine how terrifying it was in central Philippines, which was directly in the path of the devastating typhoon," he said.
"It broke my heart to see (images of) so much suffering caused by Typhoon Haiyan," he said, adding that the sight of the destruction of the land and the suffering of millions of people in the battered Leyte province gave him the resolve to find a way to help the suffering victims.
On Friday, when he emerged victorious over Sabah compatriot Melvin Yeoh in the ONE Fighting Championship: Warrior Spirit tournament in Kuala Lumpur, the 39-year-old mixed martial arts exponent decided to donate his entire prize money to the victims.
"It was an easy decision. I wanted to do something to help the victims," he said, declining to state the amount he donated, but is believed to be a substantial sum.
AJ had been a frequent visitor to the Philippines over the past five years and made many friends there.
"I go to the Philippines at least 10 times a year for training and to take part in tournaments. It is like my second home," added AJ, who operates a gymnasium here.
"I have made many friends there and I find the Filipinos are hospitable people," said the fighter, whose wife Emily Barner acts as his manager.
AJ said he and Emily were still undecided on how they are going to channel the prize money to the victims but he said it would be done within this week.
He also dedicated his win to his ailing mother, Nuria Awang, 83.
"My mother always encouraged me to be the best that I can be. My mom is a warrior. She kept telling us (her children) to strive for our goals," said AJ, the eldest of nine siblings.