Giving cancer a knock-out

When he became a boxing coach, he was laughed at and called an "under block coach".

This was because Mr Kumaraesaperumal Naidu, 22, held his training sessions at an amphitheatre in Khatib and had to move them under the block of flats whenever it rained.

The former fitness instructor now runs his own boxing club, King of Strength, in Yishun.

He is not only one of the youngest boxing coaches around, but he also had to get past many setbacks in life.

When he was 14, Mr Kumaraesaperumal was diagnosed with nose cancer.

Over a period of nine months, he went for six chemotherapy sessions and 33 radiotherapy sessions. He later suffered from side effects of the treatment.

"I became as weak as a newborn baby and had no self-confidence," he said.

"But boxing helped me get back on my feet."

He went on to complete his O levels and was exempted from National Service. He then tried to join the police force in 2013 after completing his Sports Science diploma, but was rejected because of his medical history.

He started working as a fitness instructor, but left after finding it too sales-driven.

Next, he earned an advanced boxing trainer certification from the Boxing Certification Institution.

Mr Kumaraesaperumal then set out to open his own boxing club to inspire others and make a difference in their lives.

"When we opened, my partner was 19 and I was 21," he said.

He spent $1,100 of his savings to start the club, of which half was spent on equipment and the rest on operating expenses.

He added that many questioned his experience, saying he knew nothing about boxing, and it made him sad.

But he pressed on, motivated by his pillar of strength - his mother, Madam Nirmala Shelingam.

Said the 42-year-old: "I supported him all the way. I told him, if this is your dream, you should pursue it since you have no responsibilities yet.

"It was his passion and I didn't want him to worry about not making any money out of it."

The young coach is also motivated to continue what he is doing every time he sees results from his trainees.

"All the small things matter, like when my boxer representing the club won a gold medal in a local boxing tournament. His parents came to thank me," he said.

"Such things motivate me to do my work and it makes me happy."

jlong@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 04, 2015.
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