Bullying was the reason why Nur Amisha Azril Rizal took up Muay Thai (Thai-boxing). She excelled in the sport and went on to win a gold medal at the Muay Thai World Junior Championship in Bangkok last year.
“I was a victim of bullying when I was in Year One. I had to learn something to defend myself,” said the 15-year-old girl, also known as Amisha.
Today, she is an accomplished Muay Thai boxer when she defeated Thailand’s Phin Pong Ratchada, the World Number 1, in the championship.
“It’s not just about medals. I’ve won many Muay Thai championships since I was eight. Those who bullied me now respect me. I’m no pushover. That’s what I want – respect,” said the student of SMK Gunung Rapat, Ipoh.
Her keenness to become a Muay Thai exponent is acknowledged by her father, Azril Rizal, who doubles as her manager. Azril manages the Ipoh Muay Thai Academy at Polo Ground.
Amisha is a familiar face at the academy, which was opened in 2011. “I felt sad when my father wanted to train my youngest brother, initially. I was so eager to be in the ring when I saw trainees sparring and persuaded my father to give me a chance,” she said.
Azril gave in. He bought her gloves and she began training seriously.
Amisha trains under Bernard Radin, 44, an Iban whose ring name is “Head Hunter”. He is the chief coach of the national Muay Thai team for Sea Games 2017.
Bernard knew she had talent after seeing her sparring. He sought her father’s permission to take her under his wing. Since then, the gym has become Amisha’s second home. She trains after school.
It didn’t take long before she started winning competitions. This included national school-level titles, which made her eligible to represent Malaysia in Bangkok last year.
She has achieved many things, but after being diagnosed with vertigo when she was 12, she had to stop training for a year. Recalling that dark episode, she said: “I still went to the gym to see my friends train. It was the saddest moment in my life. Watching them train and not being able to participate was heartbreaking. I could only sit and watch, as my condition affected my balance,” she recalled.
After her recovery she was back in the ring. “It’s tough. I felt I had to start all over again.”
Amisha’s achievements have inspired many of her friends and other young women to take up Muay Thai.
“I welcome anybody who wants to join, but it’s important to have your parents’ blessing because of the training schedule. My friends are proud of what I’ve achieved. Some of them feel threatened by my success, but I’m sure they’ll get over it and be happy for me,” she said with a smile.
Amisha, who aspires to become a police officer, will sit for her PT3 examination this year.
“Dividing my time between training and studying is challenging indeed. But I can do it because discipline is key to becoming successful in the sport. I’ve no trouble juggling the two,” she remarked.
Amisha is preparing for the Malaysian Muay Thai Championship in July and plans on retaining her title at the junior world tournament to be held in Bangkok from August 3 to 11.
Ipoh Echo wishes her the very best.