Iron chef

Iron chef

His job is to dish out beatings in the ring.

So perhaps it isn't a surprise boxer Ridhwan Ahmad is as adept with a spatula and wok in his hands, as he is with a pair of gloves over them.

Ridhwan, 26 next week, who is gunning for the men's lightweight (60kg) gold at next week's South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Myanmar, spent three years as a cook at popular eatery Spize at Simpang Bedok.

"I'm ok as a cook lah, not bad," he said with a sheepish smile. "I liked cooking pasta dishes most back then, but now I prefer to do pastries."

Ridhwan fondly remembers his time working in the kitchen, and reveals that it even indirectly led him into boxing.

"There was a television at Spize that usually screened football matches for the customers," he explained.

"Sometimes, after midnight, there would be classic boxing matches on the sports channels instead - those from the black-and-white era - and they caught my interest a bit.

"At the same time, all the uncles hanging out there watching those classic matches, always brought up coach Kadir's name. "I went on the Internet and found his boxing school, and that's how I got started."

The "coach Kadir" Ridhwan refers to is Syed Abdul Kadir, the 1974 Sportsman of the Year who won a gold medal at the 1971 SEAP Games and a bronze at the 1974 Commonwealth Games.

Kadir, who is the team manager for the Singapore boxing contingent in Naypyidaw, says very little has changed in his protege from when he first walked into his boxing school.

"I started working with him when he was about 18 and he's still the same now," said the 65-year-old, who is also the president of the Singapore Amateur Boxing Association.

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