MOHD Khairol Kalai and Mohd Hazizul Hakim won gold medals in their respective weight categories as the Malaysia Games boxing competition ended in Kuantan yesterday, but both boxers took contrasting routes.
While Mohd Khairol is a third generation competitor in a family from Sandakan which boasts national level boxers, Mohd Hafizul has had to bear with the indifferent reception towards his passion from schoolmates at the Al Quran Waddin Religious Secondary School in Larkin, Johor Baru, where nobody seems to agree with him boxing.
Taking up from where elder brother and former national boxer Eddy Kalai left off, Mohd Khairol is targeting the Olympics after demolishing Perak's Mohd Iesmahafizull in the 64kg final where the referee was forced to stop the contest in the second round.
"Yes, my brother has been an inspiration. I always look up to him, but now I want to achieve more than he had done," said Sabah's Mohd Khairol, 19, who has only been absorbed into the National Sports Council Pelapis programme in January this year after spending the past year training at the Larkin boxing centre in Johor Baru under former national boxer Zulkifli Yaacob, who is also responsible for training Mohd Hazizul.
"We are from a family of boxers. From my grandfather to my father and uncles, we're all boxers, so naturally it was easy for me to take up the sport. But after Eddy achieved something, I want to be the first one to take it further and go to the Olympics someday."
Mohd Khairol's story must be the envy of Mohd Hazizul, 17, as he admitted he has been looked at as somewhat a rebel by schoolmates in his religious school, who seem to think boxing involves violence.
His victory in the 52kg final over Penang's Jagadish Elangovan 20-15 on points, hopefully changes that perception.
"It has been tough for me because I go to a religious school and it has not been easy for me at school.
"Boxing is my passion and I love the sport. That's what keeps me going. It is not against my religion, but people seem to wonder why I'm into this sport when I'm going to a religious school," said Mohd Hazizul.
RESULTS (all finals): 46kg: Mohd Hafizuddin Hakim (Ter) bt Richard Lim (Swk) 24-10, Bronze: Nik Mohd Shahrul Ikram (Pah), Mohd Firdaus Mohamad (Joh).
49kg: Mohd Fuad Mohd Redzuan (NS) bt Mohd Amirul Asraf (Pen) contest stopped Rd 2, Bronze: Aisamudin Maula Tajudin (Ked), Ilham Mohamad (Kel).
52kg: Mohd Hazizul Hakim (Joh) bt Jagadish Alangovan (Pen) 20-15, Bronze: Mohd Azman Azhar (Kel), Mohd Zulfadlie Ibrahim (Pah).
56kg: Mohd Fitri Abu Bakar (Pah) bt Mohd Jalani Mat Naim (Prk) walkover, Bronze: Merlvin Maxter Johnnny (Sab), Shamsul Kyrie Nor Nizam (Sel).
60kg: Mohd Hafizi Di (Pah) bt Nazreen Sidi (Swk) 12-7, Bronze: Sahrin Baharim (Sab), Ahmad Abhar Afifi Nassuruddin (Prk).
64kg: Mohd Khairol Kalai (Sab) bt Mohd Iesmahafizull (Prk) RSC Rd 2, Bronze: Nik Mohd Akhabar Shafie (Ter), Syahwan Shah Omar (Joh).
69kg: Khir Akyazlan Azmi (Kel) bt Nor Azman Atan (Pah) RSC Rd 1, Bronze: Rizzo Autalimus (Prk), Mohd Sufian Abdullah (Ter).
75kg: Ram Kumar Govindasamy (Pen) bt Mohd Hanafi Mohd Fairuz (NS) RSC Rd 1, Bronze: Nik Shaharom Nik Kairon Azeni (Pah), Ismail Ramli (Ter).
81kg: Kubendran Chandrasegaran (Pen) bt Mohd Afiq Ibrahim (Pah) 20-20 on countback, Bronze: Mohd Fuad Sani (Swk), Zarimi Mohd Yusof (Ter).
Note: Both losing semi-finalists awarded bronze medals.