Race to raise funds for local boxer in coma

SINGAPORE - Singapore's "Blade Runner" Shariff Abdullah has pledged his support to the "Wake The Bull" campaign organised to raise funds for stricken boxer Shahril Salim.

Amputee Shariff, who uses a prosthetic on his left leg, plans to undertake a 50km or 100km race around Singapore in December to help 21-year-old Shahril, who is still in a coma after being injured while sparring on Oct 28.

"I was so touched by his story and I wish to do whatever I can to help him," said Shariff, 44. "He is very young and has a long way to go. I believe Singaporeans will donate from their heart."

Shahril was going to use "The Bull" as his nickname for his professional boxing debut at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) on Nov 9.

But he never made it into the ring after collapsing at Juggernaut Fight Club on Boat Quay and undergoing emergency brain surgery.

He has since had to battle pneumonia as he recovers at the Singapore General Hospital. Shahril, who was orphaned as a child, also needed a tracheostomy to help him breathe, but cannot open his eyes or communicate with visitors despite showing some responsive signs two weeks ago.

His family have set up a Facebook page detailing ways to donate cash to help with his medical costs.

MBS and event promoter Dragon Fire Boxing each pledged $10,000 in good faith as soon after they found out about Shahril's plight.

But his family say the bill currently stands at $46,000 and they say doctors have told them the former ITE College East Simei student could be hospitalised for several months with the final cost running into six figures.

He may also need years of rehabilitative care. The family have received $2,000 from well-wishers so far.

Shahril's sister Lisa, who will return to her home in Norway tonight after spending the last two weeks at his bedside, said she hopes that people will continue to offer their support to her brother.

"Shahril was always a good boy and I hope people will come forward to help him to try and regain the life that he once had," said the 34-year-old housewife, who moved to Molde with her husband last year.

"He always brought out the best in people."

His brother Jufri, 27, added that those helping with donations at the moment are mainly those who know Shahril or are family members.

"We need more than that," said the freelance musician.

"We need to have the support from people outside our own circle. We need to break that boundary. "I hope that with help from the public, we will be able to see my brother back to his normal self again."

Schoolboy inspired to help Shahril

Matthew Yeoh, 16, was so touched by a Straits Times interview with Shahril "The Bull" Salim that he wrote a letter and asked for it to be passed on to the aspiring boxer.

But by the time the letter arrived, Shahril was laying in a coma at the Singapore General Hospital after collapsing following a sparring session.

Shahril, who turns on Dec 4, needed emergency brain surgery and has still not regained consciousness more than a month after the incident.

When the pair finally met for the first time last week, no words were spoken between them. The Victoria School student could only look at the man who had compelled him to put pen to paper after reading a candid interview with the Juggernaut Fight Club pugilist.

Schoolboy inspired to help Shahril

"I'm not a fan of boxing, I was just touched by his story about how he was orphaned as a boy and his struggles growing up," said Matthew, who hopes to join the effort to raise funds for Shahril. He is not alone.

Already, the Mogambo bar on Boat Quay has raised $4,000 while Singapore's "Blade Runner" Shariff Abdullah is spearheading a 50km charity run on Dec 22.

There will be a donation drive at Yoga Movement on New Bridge Road this Saturday and a series of "Wake The Bull" T-shirts have been commissioned and will be on sale soon.

Well-wishers have also chipped a further $4,200 into the coffers to add to the $20,000 pledged between Marina Bay Sands and Dragon Fire Boxing.

Shahril's injuries mean he will never box again and is likely to face years of rehabilitative care if he recovers.

Matthew, who lives in a five-room HDB flat in Marine Parade with his parents, said he was pleased there had been such a good response to calls for assistance from Shahril's family.

"He didn't ask for any sympathy and was just trying to take care of himself," he said.

"Shahril was fit and now he has a part of his skull missing, it is a sad sight.

"Singaporeans are very generous when it comes to donations and I hope they help him, because you wouldn't want it to happen to anyone."

Shahril's brother Jufri, 29, said he was pleased the two had met, although he wished it had been under different circumstances.

"I am glad Shahril's dedication to excel has touched lives, especially a young man such as Matthew," said the freelance musician.

"I am grateful that he took the time to visit my 'sleeping' brother.

"I want to tell Matthew that Shahril is continuing to fight, not in the ring but for his life from the hospital bed."

www.facebook.com/wakethebullproject

jturner@sph.com.sg


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