Don't Say Cannot: From delinquent to national wrestler

He used to beat people up, simply because he had "too much energy" to expend.

Now, he still beats people up - but for the country. Meet 24-year-old national wrestler Toh Xin Ran.

Seeing the number of medals that he has been awarded and the respectful manner in which he now interacts with his wrestling coach, it is hard to imagine that Xin Ran used to be a troubled kid in his younger days.

"I got into a lot of fights in my secondary school days and was a regular face at the discipline master's office. At one point, my parents almost wanted to send me to the Boys' Home," says Xin Ran.

Coming from the Normal (Technical) stream, Xin Ran felt he "wouldn't amount to anything much in life".

From his experiences in school, Xin Ran decided that fighting was one of his strengths.Photo: AsiaOne

"One day I told myself, 'enough is enough'. I wanted to do something meaningful with my life, and started thinking what I'd possibly be good at," he shares.

The epiphany was triggered by encouragement from his teacher after he did well for a class test.

Having been through countless fights, Xin Ran decided that fighting was definitely one of his strengths and tried out combat sports. He headed for a trial class at the Wrestling Federation of Singapore. "That day I got thrashed very badly-but I really enjoyed it, and signed up for more."

He started training regularly and eventually made it to the national team. It has been nine years since the first day he started wrestling. Now, Xin Ran is part of the national wrestling team, comprising both female and male wrestlers, aged 14 to 39.

Wrestling has taken him to many countries-from Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam to as far as South Africa. In fact, his virgin flight was to the Philippines for a competition when he was 15. Xin Ran came in third in that competition.

"Through wrestling, I've picked up values like tenacity and determination. If I can apply these values on the mats, why not apply them outside? I went from doing very badly in school to topping my cohort in secondary school, ITE (Institute of Technical Studies) and polytechnic."

"When I'm on the mat, holding my country's flag up high, I feel a sense of joy and pride. You feel a sense of fire, and that's what keeps me going," shares Xin Ran.

"What keeps me going is this quote from a famous wrestler: 'After you've wrestled, everything else in life is easy.'"

Don't Say Cannot is an original AsiaOne series that shines the spotlight on people like you and me - average Singaporeans - who have stepped out of their comfort zones to do something positive for themselves or others.