KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian fighter Muhamad Farkhan Mohd Haron almost threw in the towel two years ago but is now dreaming of a world title after being gifted a two-year training stint at the Wild Card Boxing Club by a generous royal.
The opportunity to train at the world famous gym in Los Angeles, owned by Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, comes courtesy of Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, a member of the Johor Royal family in Malaysia, who agreed to sponsor the stint.
Farkhan, who had impressed the prince by knocking out former Asian champion Hendrik Aritonang in a March cruiserweight contest, will now have the chance to train with world champions such as Filipino Manny Pacquiao and Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto.
“I’m honored the prince trusted me. He saw my potential and is helping the sport to grow,” Farkhan told Monday’s MalayMail.
“With his support, I can look forward to being Asian champion and maybe the world title.
“Determination is the key to success and I believe I can win the world title maybe in four years. But for now, I want to focus on Asia.”
The 27-year-old won middleweight gold at the Southeast Asian Games in Laos in 2009 but the Johor-born fighter, now a light heavyweight, endured a difficult time thereafter.
His father, a former boxer and vice president of the Malaysian Amateur Boxing Federation, died in 2012 of heart failure and the fighter was hospitalized after being attacked the same year.
He recovered but his struggles left him considering his future in the sport.
“I left the elite squad to turn pro. The federation didn’t support me when I was with them and I almost quit.
“But I chose my own path and I am determined to make my country proud.”
Farkhan will compete at the Asian championships in Jakarta next month, his first opportunity to deliver success with his new team of backers.
The fighter said Filipino Pacquiao, who has won world titles in eight different weight divisions and is considered one of the sport’s great entertainers, was his inspiration.
“It’s hard but I’ll strive for it. Now with the support of the crown prince, my road will be a little easier. I’ll promise to bring back more glory.”
Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Peter Rutherford