Mr Zacky Mohammed Hosnen, who stands at 1.76m, was overweight until two years ago.
"My tummy was bulging," the 39-year-old told The New Paper yesterday.
"Whenever I saw my tummy, I thought I should do something about it. But I didn't."
At his heaviest, the pre-press technician at Singapore Press Holdings tipped the scales at 110kg.
Today, he is 83kg of muscle and one of the 10 Manhunt finalists (Senior category, those aged 30 and above) in this year's Manhunt Singapore contest. The finals will be held on Aug 27.
But the transformation did not come easily. He blames his love for food.
Mr Zacky often travelled overseas in search of new culinary experiences, making up to three trips a year when his schedule allowed it.
"I would pay for really expensive beef in Korea," he said.
He said he would even seek out lesser-known restaurants in dark alleys that he read about on the Internet and be "the only foreigner there".
Having been overweight since childhood, Mr Zacky first tried to lose weight in his early 20s.
He started going to the gym and dreamt of competing in fitness competitions.
But he soon found himself gaining weight again.
He said: "Sometimes you just don't have any motivation, and you think, 'Why are you doing this?' So I started to stuff myself again. I started to hate going to the gym."
The turning point came two years ago when a friend reminded him of his dream.
The friend became his fitness coach and kept him motivated whenever he felt like giving up.
"(My friend) would tell me, 'If you quit, you will never get anything done'."
Mr Zacky dropped his weight to 73kg by February this year and was placed 10th in his first fitness competition.
He celebrated by eating eight tubs of ice cream in three days.
He hopes to host his own travel and food television show one day and joined Manhunt Singapore for the exposure.
"Have you ever seen a TV programme that shows you that you can travel and still eat healthy food?
"That is what I'm trying to achieve," he said.
He used to 'destroy his body' with drugs
Mr Augustine Jadyn Ng
One would probably not have guessed that Mr Augustine Jadyn Ng was once a gang member and a drug abuser who spent more than four years in jail.
"I don't think there was one factor (for joining a gang), but it was probably because I wanted to have a sense of belonging," Mr Ng, 25, told The New Paper yesterday.
The sales executive is studying part-time for a degree in construction management at SIM Global Education.
Mr Ng, who is one of the 20 Manhunt Singapore finalists this year, got involved in gangs while in secondary school. He was jailed in 2007 for drug abuse and voluntarily causing grievous hurt.
In his last year behind bars, he vowed to start anew and severed ties with his gang.
"I realised that life is so much more than those gang activities, which are wrong," he said.
He attributed this change to becoming more mature with age and missing out on a normal teenager's life.
"The ages of 16 to 21 are the prime of most people's lives. I missed that period by being inside (jail)," he said.
Ten months after his release in 2013, Mr Ng embarked on a new commitment - bodybuilding.
"I was tired of people calling me skinny," he said.
The constant comments about his slim build in secondary school and prison made him "feel downtrodden", he added.
Initially, his motivation for exercising was simply to improve his physical appearance. When he realised the health benefits of bodybuilding, he was even more motivated.
He said: "I used to destroy my body with drugs. Going to the gym is the exact opposite of what I used to do."
Mr Ng, who is 1.78m tall, was 59kg before his exercise regimes. He now weighs 75kg.
He joined Manhunt Singapore after he was scouted by the organisers.
"I was reluctant (to take part) because I had no confidence," he said.
"I didn't go through national service, I wasn't an officer, I didn't have the usual attributes of Manhunt contestants."
He eventually agreed to sign up after encouragement by the organisers.
He hopes his involvement will serve as an inspiration to others.
"(I want) to show others that if an ex-offender can be in Manhunt, a lot of things are actually in our control."
He conquers injury worries
Mr Jasper Lee
Mr Jasper Lee might be in peak physical condition as a finalist in this year's Manhunt Singapore.
But just four years ago, Mr Lee, 23, had great difficulty standing continuously for 45 minutes because of a slipped disc.
The computer science student at the National University of Singapore began showing the symptoms of his condition in secondary school. The avid athlete ignored advice from doctors and continued to represent his school and junior college in football.
When his condition worsened in 2010, Mr Lee was forced to stop his involvement in sports, leading to a weight gain that peaked at 80kg.
"My closest friends started calling me fat," he said.
He had surgery in 2012, and after a year, Mr Lee was able to exercise and return to sports.
"Rather than use my injury as an excuse (for my weight), I decided to work out."
Mr Lee stands at 1.71m and weighs 72kg now.
He said: "I want to help people who have injuries or are discouraged from being called fat to change their attitude."
This article was first published on June 16, 2016.
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