PETALING JAYA, July 3 — Malaysian mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters Ann Osman and Ev Ting hope that newly appointed Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman can help develop the MMA scene in the country.
The duo spoke to Malay Mail earlier today, less than a day after 26-year-old Syed Saddiq was sworn in as the 18th sports minister in Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Cabinet.
Sabah’s Ann Osman congratulated Syed on his appointment and wished the sport will take a more positive direction under his leadership.
“Firstly, I’d like to congratulate him on his appointment and for being the country’s youngest ever minister.
“I hope there will be equal support for all athletes and sports in Malaysia especially for more contemporary sports such as MMA. The sport has been growing rapidly over the last five years in Malaysia with representatives at international events such as ONE Championship.
With fighters often struggling financially, she said she hoped for better support by the ministry.
“Our Malaysian athletes has worked hard and mainly finance themselves during competition preparations and I hope to see the struggle come to an end with more support and funding being given to further grow the sport in Malaysia,” said the 32-year-old.
She added that the MMA community in Malaysia will even lend him a helping hand if he needed some guidance.
“I’m here to help the sport and if Syed needs some guidance, we (the MMA community) will be ever willing to help him.”
Ev echoed the same sentiment adding that the country needs a new national sport to put the country on the map.
“It is the fastest growing sport for a reason and it’s time we have a new national sport.
“Badminton is not helping our national identity anymore and we have come a long way in such a short amount of time.
“With some support in assisting the development of future generations, we will see a more confident and competent Malaysia in the MMA scene,” he said.
Ann is Malaysia’s first ever professional female MMA fighter, picking up a 5-4 record during her fighting career with ONE from 2013 to 2017 while Ev has been the country’s best MMA fighter with a 16-4 record in his seven-year career.
Previous youth and sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin was a big fan of the sport himself, setting up Malaysian Invasion Mixed Martial Arts (MIMMA) along with then Tune Talk chief executive officer Jason Lo.
Other local based promotions that has been assisting athletes at grassroots levels include Ultimate Beatdown, Malaysian Fighting Championship and F3.