Although neither had contested a SEA Games boxing semi-final before yesterday, both became Singapore's first boxing finalists since 1993 after winning those bouts.
Both had their proud brothers and other family members present, roaring them on to take one more hit, make one more jab.
But while Mohamed Hanurdeen Hamid was elated after a surprise appearance by his brother after winning his flyweight semifinal against Myanmar's Maung Nge, welterweight Tay Jia Wei still could not count on his mother's support as she did not attend yesterday's bouts at Singapore Expo Hall 1.
Hanurdeen, 21, had never before had his older brother Hanif in attendance, with the 31-year-old kept busy tending to his hawker stall with mother Jarin Begum.
So he was surprised when Hanif came over to celebrate his semi-final victory.
Said Hanurdeen: "I'm very surprised but happy to see him here. Usually I (fight) alone because I don't want my family to watch and worry for me."
Hanif was left impressed with what he had just witnessed, saying: "It's my first time watching (Hanurdeen) fight and I'm so proud of him."
Hanurdeen took part in the 2011 and 2013 Games but failed to progress beyond the quarter-finals.
He certainly put on a show this time, his footwork sure and punches decisive in taking out his opponent from Myanmar.
He also credited the home support as a vital factor in his victory.
"The crowd played a big part. I reached my point of fatigue during the bout, but still managed to push on with all the support," said Hanurdeen, who fought on home soil as Singapore's lone representative at the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Games.
For Tay, 20, it was his first SEA Games bout.
He duly rocked the crowd by dismantling Timor Leste's Borges Pereira in their semi-final clash with an assured display that belied his lack of experience.
Despite his mother's absence, he was surprised at the presence of other relatives - his aunt Sharon, sister Hui Min and cousin Darrell accompanying his ever-present twin brother Jia Jun and friends.
"I saw and heard (my brother) and having support from my family and the home crowd was a memorable experience. I'm still shocked, never experienced such support before," Tay said.
He was less impressed with his performance though, claiming he has much to work on ahead of the final tomorrow.
"I had an edge in speed, but I made a lot of mistakes, opened up too many opportunities for my opponent to strike, so I have a lot to improve on," he said.
Two more men's boxers, Mohammed Ridhwan and Leong Jun Hao, lost their semi-finals but were guaranteed bronzes.
The women's boxing team also are assured of two bronzes from Leona Hui and Ang Fen Ni in their maiden SEA Games outing.
Said head coach Syed Kadir: "We have achieved one of our goals with our performances in this Games - to make the sport more known and to inspire more to take up boxing."
Should either Hanurdeen or Tay clinch a first boxing gold for Singapore since 1985, the rise of boxing here could be accelerated even further.
This article was first published on June 09, 2015.
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