Welcome fight fans to Sandakan. The former capital of Sabah ( during the British colonial era ). The biggest city in the east coast of Sabah, Sandakan is also widely promoted as the nature city with many natural attractions for visitors to enjoy.

Combat sports event may not be the top draw for visitors to Sandakan, but Mohamad Ajman Ajmain is just trying to change that; through Elopura Fights.
This weekend 10-11 March, will see close to 100 Muaythai fighters converge in Sandakan for the 2nd edition of Elopura Fights.
Mohamad Ajman Ajmain or fondly known as Maman is the president of Sandakan Muaythai Association. He is also the deputy president of Sabah Muaythai Association and has been working passionately developing Muaythai in Sabah.
Elopura Fights is organised by Sandakan Muaythai Association and supported by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Malaysia, Malaysia Muaythai Association and Sabah Muaythai Association
Let’s get to know more about Maman, the man behind Elopura Fights.
Maman was born in Tawau in 1979, another city in the east coast of Sabah, around 4 hours drive from Sandakan. His interest in martial arts began during his childhood. Having a father whom was a martial arts instructor certainly helps.
“My late father, Ajmain Abd Ghani was active in martial arts. He was a Silat teacher ‘Guru Silat’ and also manager of Taekwondo Team in Tawau back in the 80’s. 
Our home had always been visited by so many people from all over Malaysia
 
I remember many people from Kelantan and Kedah came (and brought so many food including keropok lekor) for various reasons; some came to learn and quite a few came to challenge my father for a spar. There were also visitors from Indonesia during those days. That influenced my interest in the art of fighting.”

In his teenage years, Maman developed an interest in boxing and started learning basic boxing. He also picked up a bit of Tomoi during his uni days (1999-2000) from his Kelantan and Pendang friends. To the extend of even going to their village during semester break to learn more techniques.


His involvement in Muaythai began back in 2011, it was a visit to to Cikgu Alang’s house. That night he was hosting an introductory Muaythai seminar which was conducted by Kru Bernard Radin (Vice President of Persatuan Muaythai Malaysia).
In that seminar Maman began to realise that Muaythai is growing fast as a sports in Malaysia and has commercial value. That was when he started to think of setting up a Muaythai club and training gym, which he eventually formed and named it 66 Unicorn.






Maman works as an immigration officer and ever since he got promoted is now base in Limbang in the state of Sarawak. Which is 10 hours drive from Sandakan. But this does not deters him from making sure Elopura Fights are well organised. With a strong team that supports him at Sandakan, all things gets done. He name his reliable team AskarHantu 66.

“Because they are like ghosts. They are mostly active at night and when they do their work, you don’t notice anything today, but suddenly in the morning the work is done.”

 
 
 
 
 
Warriors of Borneo talks to Maman about Elopura Fights.

This is Elopura Fights second edition (EF2), can you give us a little background on how this event came about?
First Muaythai Event that we organized in Sandakan was Dynamite Naksoo: Asia Fight Tour, Sandakan back in 12th December 2015. Its a collaboration with our Australia counterpart Dynamite Naksoo Muaythai. The event was so succesfull that we started to plan to do another one. 


 

The second event we did was Elopura Fights (12-13 August 2016) which we collaborated with Boxxtomoi Asia and KL7. We decided to use Elopura Fights as our event name to reflect the locality of the event. Elopura (Elok + Pura) which means Beautiful Land is what Sandakan used to be called once upon a time.

Related:  Sabah Youth Muaythai Championship at Sabah Muaythai Camp



We were planning EF 2 once we completed EF. It was supposed to be held April 2017, but I was promoted and transferred to Sarawak so we have to postpone the event. I was just trying to settle down at my new workplace and cant focus on EF 2. So the project was kept in a drawer until last December 2017. We met with Denz Artisan Coffee Roasters and he expressed his interest in sponsoring our Muaythai Event. After some discussion we agreed to organize EF 2: Defenders of Elopura.




2016 event was very successful, not just for the fights but also the pre-event, you have the Triton convoy, Superbike Convoy, a great welcoming dinner, opening performance by Persatuan Seni Silat Gayong Malaysia. What can be expected this year?
This year we are focusing on the fights. We have gathered 38 professional fighters from all over Malaysia including 3 Thai Fighters and 1 from India. We are trying to make it all about the fight first. We have not planned to do any gimmick. Straight to business. Muaythai fights galore.




Can you share on the itinerary for EF2? 
We will have amateur fights from 9am to 4pm.

There will be 32 amateur bouts, and 3 Semi pro ladies bouts. It will be in super fight format. 
 
Some of the Defenders of Elopura from 66 Unicorn will see action in amateur fights ( come and support – ammy fights is free entrance )



 




The Pro fights will begin at 7pm. 9 pro bouts on the first night and 10 pro bouts on the 2nd. The highlight of the 1st night  (10 March)  is Elopura Fights 50kg Champion Belt between local Sandakan favorite fighter Riedzwan Norsyahmie vs Hunson ak Kayan from Sarawak. 
For your info Riedzwan Norsyahmie was the bronze Medallist in 2017 IFMA World Youth Championship Bangkok in August 2017 and Gold Medalist in 2017 World Youth Martial Art Mastership, South Korea in November 2017. But the fightcard is so stacked that all bouts will promise smoking hot fights. 


 
On second night (11 March) the Elopura Fights 57kg Champion Belt will be the highlight. It will be between Sabah best Muaythai fighter Shah ‘Black Machine’ against Sarawakian Muaythai Hero Trevor Salang. It will be blazing hot! But then again the fightcard for second night will also be so stacked that I can’t say which one will be the hottest bout.

We also have 2 Female Pro bouts 1 each night that will pit Tu Sin Yee (66 Unicorn) against Magdelina (Tomoi Labuan) on the 10th and Linn (66 Unicorn) against State athlete Glorya Nate (Sabah Khai Muay) on the 2nd night.






Tell us about your team, 66 Unicorn. What does the name signify? Share with readers the journey of you starting the gym, the development, the challenges, the achievements and the future.
66 Unicorn Muaythai. The number 66 is actually taking the spirit of Sabahan leaders Double 6 tragedy. They fight for Sabahan right until the end of their lives. Hence our motto 66 Never Surrender. 
 
Unicorn is a mythical creature which is the opposite of the usual creature many of the fight gyms use. This is more to my philosophy of how we should carry ourselves. 
We want to be humble. We don’t want to look like a dragon but fight like a pussycat. UNICORNS are deceivingly sweet and cute but once we fight we will fight to the death. 

Related:  Manachai YOKKAOSaenchaiGym Seminar
Maman : the beginning of 66 Unicorn
with Kru Bernard Radin during Basic Muaythai course and Khan upgrading in 2013


Maman sharing his knowledge in the gym. Maman is head coach ( technique & tactical ) . Dr Sanjay serve as Strenght & Conditioning coach & team doctor. Other Trainers are Najib, Azhar, Watie & Muliadan

 

I believe in Sandakan only 66 Unicorn is the only active gym/team in Muaythai/ kickboxing…how do you see the development of martial arts in Sandakan in general.

Yes you are not far off. So far 66 Unicorn is the only active team from Sandakan. 

We have been trying to invite more people to open up a gym/training centre in Sandakan and so far there are a few that started to set up training gyms. But they are quite ‘shy’. We will organize a meeting in the near future to find out what can we do to help.

Upgrading in progress.
spanking new upgrade done at their gym located at Bandar Utama Sandakan

 



In 66 Unicorn, you have a team of juvenile fighters and some newbies, tell us your team’s development program? What is your expectations this year for them.
Yes we do have a team of juvenile fighters and newcomers. We have been doing the same thing since the beginning. We emphasize on the strong foundation of Muaythai. We don’t do fancy stuff. We do basic, basic and basic.
We instill the importance of fight IQ to our fighters. And we put fitness as one of the most important thing for our fighters. This year will be a good year and we expect some of our boys and girls to represent Sabah to the nationals and hopefully some will also be selected to represent the country again.

three generations of champion ( from Left : Shah, Rahmad & Syamie )




Fighters from Sandakan, who is the upcoming one to look out for? 

• Riedzwan Norsyahmie ‘Golden Shin’ 17yo
• Faiz ‘Harimau Kumbang’ 14yo
• Rahmad ‘Mat Kool’ 14yo
These are the upcoming fighters that will be a force to be reckoned with in Sabah Muauthai scene in my humble opinion.

 



How do you go about promoting EF2? Any assistance from government agency ?

We have full cooperation from Sabah Sports Commisioner, Ministry of Youth and Sports Sabah, Sandakan Municipal Council and the Police. Our promotion is going on smoothly.
Amateur fights in the day time is free entrance .
For the Pro fights to get your tickets please call:

Tea Library: +601116043075
Herman Bin Usman: 0128423785
Frank Setter: 0128014589
Mienn Manyon: 0145503066
Rioo Alexandria: 01110032302
Rams Thokke: 0178383996

 
Elopura is an old name for Sandakan, I see that u are also using EF2 as a tool to promote Sandakan in sports tourism. What was the response like from participants?
( outside Sandakan ) base on last year’s event.
The response was very good. From the feedback we get, most of them can’t wait to come back to Sandakan and join our event. They also spread good things about Sandakan hospitality in their hometown. We are glad.

For first timer in Sandakan, what do you recommend them for food? Places of interest and activities?
Sandakan is a food haven. From Seafood to Indonesian food to Western food to our local delicacies, you name it, we have it! But our SEAFOOD is second to none; so don’t miss the opportunity to experience it yourselves.

For place of Interest there are many, From Sepilok Orang Utan sanctuary, Crocodile Farm, and beautiful islands like Selingan, Lankayan, Bakungan. If you are lucky you might get to see turtles laying eggs!