Choke, Clinch, Crank and Combat
By Andrea Yew, Alvin Ang and Astrini Alias
A coffee-table book that aims to capture untold stories of the local combat scene as part of a larger tapestry of Singaporean community stories, through 25 featured fighters
Stories about fighters are at once over and underrepresented. The rise of biographies and biopics of famous fighters like Ronda Rousey, Apollo Creed, and Manny Pacquiao speaks of the rising curiosity we have about the people who choose to fight.
However, these narratives primarily tend to capitalise on the existing fame of a person, and the popularity of these narratives also comes from knowing that at the end of the story, the protagonist wins and hence, the struggle is worth it. Hence these stories tend to follow a certain trajectory, be it a rags-to-riches narrative or a montage that glamorises gruelling workouts. But life is not a tidy narrative. The choice to fight is fraught with uncertainties, and the risk of injury always looms on the horizon.
Yet, fighters choose to do it every single day. With this book, the spotlight is on fighters based in Singapore, not Singaporean fighters per se, because our fight scene is also very much about the people who have travelled from all across the world to become instructors as well as fighters in Singapore.
Without them, our fight scene would never be where it is today. This book aims to put a face to these fighters and their diverse lives. From people like local comedian Fakkah Fuzz to Professor Alexsandro Machado who grew up in the favelas of Cantagalo, what unites their diverse stories is their passion for their sport.
This book is an exploration of that compulsion and examines the reasons behind the relentless need to fight. In our conversations with all the fighters in the book, it becomes clear that the end goal is not a title fight that neatly concludes their story. For many, there is no conclusion, it is simply about being better.
At its essence, fighting is not just a career choice or a hobby, it is a way of life. While this is a book about combat sport, it is also a book about the resilience of Singaporeans, the strength of community, and a part of the wider story of what it means to live in Singapore.