Since he won the world championship in December 2018, the Singaporean silat exponent Sheik Ferdous Sheik Alau’ddin, 27, has not rested on his laurels. In fact, he continues to shake things up in the martial art arena until that fateful day.
The date was May 15 and the event, the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi.
Sheik Ferdous took an illegal punch to the jaw fromThai opponent Suthat Bunchit in the second round of the match and was immediately knocked out.
“I didn’t see the hook coming,” he tells TheHomeGround Asia.
His father’s son
Sheik Ferdous comes from a family of silat champions.
He and younger brother Sheik Farhan are sons of Dr Sheik Alau’ddin Yacoob Marican, two-time Silat world champion himself and a multiple medallist of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. His last gold medal was at the 1999 SEA Games in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam. Dr Sheik Alau’ddin is now the CEO of Singapore Silat.
He founded the Grasio Sports Silat School in 1997 in hopes that he would pass on the legacy to his children and others in the community. He even introduced Silat to all of his children while they were still toddlers.
His eldest Nur Shafiqa competed in several world championships in the women’s Class B (50-55kg), while the two younger children Nur Shaqira and Sheik Fayz are on the rise.
“I can’t remember exactly when I started silat but it was since I was very young. My dad used to take us to his silat classes. Slowly, I was introduced to the art and I joined those classes,” Sheik Ferdous says. He joined the national team at the age of nine and had been practising since.
But winning as an athlete in the sport did not come till much later. He suffered many losses and at one point, he became so tired of losing that it spurred him on. He represented Singapore numerous times and bagged a silver medal in the 2018 Asian Games. He went on to take the World Silat Championship that same year.
“I am disciplined with my diet and training. I usually give 100 per cent in all my training sessions and I take care of my body well (and make sure I) eat the right food, sleep well and recover,” he says, adding that being his father’s son puts a lot of pressure on his performance.
The punch that ended the quest for gold
At the beginning of this year, Sheik Ferdous told digital lifestyle platform Honeycombers Singapore that after a two-year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he was going to take 2022 as a new start. “At the same time, I’m always seeking to bring back the gold for Singapore,” he said, referring to the 31st SEA Games.
“For the SEA Games, I had to drop two classes. It wasn’t much of a hassle as I’ve started three to four months before. There are new rules implemented, so my coaches drilled me well with the new techniques and I’ve adapted well to the new rules,” he says.
But the gold he was determined to bring home was not to be. His dream ended in one illegal blow to the face by Thailand’s Suthat Bunchit and he was immediately out cold.
“The moment I got hit, my jaw shifted, which I assumed, resulted in the concussion. I blacked out immediately as I dropped to the ground but I regained consciousness after I hit the ground. In my mind I was saying ‘again?’” he says.
The punch in the face was not the first illegal move rained on Sheik Ferdous. At the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, his Malaysian opponent Sobri Muhammad Robial delivered a hard kick in Sheik Ferdous’ back after he fell to the ground — an illegal move on the Malaysian’s part.
He told Singapore daily The Straits Times then, “I saw the kick coming and braced myself for it.”
But this time round, he was not prepared for the Thai punch and fell to the ground hard.
“When I opened my eyes, my vision was blurry, and I was in a daze. The medical team decided that I should not continue. It wasn’t the proudest victory but rules are rules,” he says. He was eventually stretchered out of the ring and the illegal punch resulted in the Thai’s disqualification.
Unfortunately, Sheik Ferdous had to withdraw from the men’s Class G (75-80kg) Tanding Final on doctor’s orders for safety reasons. He was given the Silver.
“I was very disappointed and frustrated because I really wanted to fight the Vietnamese whom I lost to in the SEA Championships two months before the SEA Games. I wanted a comeback and most of all, I really wanted the gold medal. However, I trust in my medical team, the doctors and their advice. I have to just look forward to the upcoming world championship and the next SEA Games,” he says.
Singapore silat exponents leave Hanoi with best ever showing
Singapore’s silat exponents completed their 31st SEA Games with four gold, three silver and four bronze medals, making it the best-ever showing at the biennial event.
The team’s previous best was three gold, two silvers and 10 bronze medals at the 2003 games, also in Hanoi.
Nurul Suhaila Mohamed Saiful got the team off to a good streak when she beat Malaysia’s Siti Shazwana 30-22 in the women’s Class E (65-70kg) Tanding final in the first bout of the day.
Muhammad Hazim Mohamad Yusli took two strikes in the face during a gruelling bout in the men’s Class C (55-60kg) tanding final and took the gold when Indonesia’s Muhamad Yachser Arafa was disqualified for an illegal kick.
Sheik Farhan went on to collect the team’s third gold medal of the day when he beat Saranon Glompan of Thailand. He was up 13 against his opponent’s -6 when the Thai athlete and his coaches walked out of the bout.