Many years ago when I snapped my ACL ( anterior cruciate ligament – both knees by the way… ) my dream of competing in combat sports were busted. So I started this blog to keep myself up to date with local combat sports scene and also to use my story to inspire others. Although it is a challenge to maintain this blog juggling between my day job and family time, along the way I met many interesting and colourful characters that made the time worthwhile; and many a times, from their stories, I was the one being inspired.

Two weeks ago in Elopura Fights 2 Sandakan, I had the opportunity to witness Linn Yong competing on stage. It was her pro debut and she certainly left a great impression by winning within minutes by TKO in the first round.

I interviewed her after the fight. What inspired me about Linn is her strength not just on the ring but also of her personal character.

She is a loving wife, a caring mother, an entrepreneur, a creative chef, a conservationist and perhaps lastly a fearless fighter, all roll into one. She now calls Sandakan home, but originally from Johor Bahru. Spending her schoolings years crossing the causeway daily to study in Singapore. She graduated in Industrial Design and when she met her husband Anton, they decided to settle down in his hometown Sandakan.

Linn with husband Anton and daughter Adira

Together they have a daughter Adira turning 6 this year, whom sometimes thinks she is a Ninja. In her younger days Linn use to be a national level volleyball player & also enjoyed Dragon boating very much.

In downtown Sandakan, at Jalan Pelabuhan Lama, stand proudly one of the oldest hotel in Sandakan, NAK Hotel. Owned by Linn’s husband’s Ngui family. This hotel is built in the 60s and carries a retro theme. It’s very well known for it’s Ba Lin Roof Garden Bar & Bistro and the San Da Gen café downstairs. Serving great scrumptious food with a retro theme that brings back sweet memories of the 50s / 60s era.

Linn serve as the chef at large for both Ba Lin & San Da Gen Kopitiam.

Come night time, off goes the apron and on comes the gloves. Linn will split her time to go train at 66 Unicorn Muaythai & Combat Art at Bandar Utama. Her journey of martial arts started when she wanted to lose her post baby weight.

“The last 10kg stuck on me like a muffin top of shame. I decided to join a fun kickboxing class in another gym & really try to rebuild my self-esteem. 

her pre Muaythai times

 

But I soon found out I had Thyroid issues. Thank God, the symptoms are now manageable, but cutting weight the healthy way is still sometimes a challenge and I have to work harder than most to increase my base metabolic rate in order to burn excess fat.

“I head up 66 Unicorn having caught wind of a new instructor, when I realised he was ‘borderline OCD

( obsessive compulsive disorder)‘ about us getting real Muaythai techniques right, I knew this was the man I was looking for …not because I was attracted to Muaythai in particular but more because I knew I was a total punk and disregarded most authoritative voice & only the right people could push me. 
The first year was sometimes boring but having a social circle around it made it fun. It was after we got the fundamentals right that it got really interesting and I developed the passion for this ‘seemingly violent’ chess game.” 

That was 2 years ago. At 35 young this year, she really cherish the time she gets to train with other younger members of the gym and the ability to compete at this full contact sports. She has competed twice. First fight was in amateur rules Muay Fight Night – Ladies Cup in Kota Kinabalu last year August. Her second fight was recently in 11 March 2018 at Elopura Fights 2 Sandakan, at pro rules. Recording 2 wins by TKO in both her fight.

Related:  Elopura Fights 2 : The Review
helping 66 Unicorn Sandakan become champion of MFN Ladies Cup

“ Every event is a real gift to me, 

an opportunity to test out what I’ve learned. I’ve stopped worrying about winning or losing, I just go in and have as much fun as possible and share a very special moment with my comrades. 
 
I know I look intensely ‘garang’ (fierce) in the fights but that is just a front – that is Aunty Linn’s default look when someone gives her rotten apples in the supermarkets! Because really when you have No Ego, you have No Fear, fear of pain yes! but not fear of failure.”
‘Garang’ mode ON
‘Garang’ mode OFF

How do you cope with the preparation for a pro rules Muaythai fight?

“ I left all the physical preparation to my coach, I just had to show up as much as I could and trust the process. 

 
Recovery was a different story, I really had to eat well, and try to get enough nutrition while cutting the weight, nursing chronic injuries. Getting enough recovery l time was also a challenge as competitive people we also tend to over-train.”

Tell us about the moments of your walk out and when you enter the ring.

“Everyday when I did the gruelling roadworks, I would visualise a presence that is so expansive that it fills the whole hall, I think it shows on my face which by the way I am still slightly embarrassed of haha. But hey that Dragon-ball stuff worked! 

 

I was still pretty nervous backstage but as soon as I heard the crowd cheering me on and literally bringing the house down I knew it was kill time! 
 
Then with the lights, sounds, smoke and all I felt nothing but pride & honour to be able to do this for my teacher, my gym & my adopted hometown Sandakan.”
What was your walk out song?

Dead Sara’s Weatherman is an Epic song about writing your own future but I also read it as being anti- establishment which is who I am at heart, breaking conventions as a woman & mother. This song was aptly gifted to me by my coach.” 

practicing her moves at Imbak Canyon majestic falls

Take us through the fight that night

“I opened with a slightly short right kick checking the range, but unlucky for her it grazed her floating rib, she dropped for her first 10 counts. 

 

By then I knew it wasn’t gonna be a long fight. She was a little more ‘lengthy’ than I am, I wanted to go in with clinches and knees but it didn’t work as she had great balance so I stepped back and went for some explosive kicks instead knowing she was already intimidated by the first kick and again she was down for the second 10 counts. 

 

Quite frankly I was going to slow it down a little, but as I was marching in from the white corner something set me off and I changed my mind , with a quick hop I let rip a fully extended right teep and that was it.”

How do you find training at 66 Unicorn?

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“66 Unicorn like its name is a unique set up, it’s a safe environment to practice real Muaythai, even though like all families there are arguments here and there but we always stick together when the going gets tough and very little egos are thrown around unlike other gyms. 



“Since I’m one of the oldest, sometimes I fall into “Aunty mode” and can be quite naggy . 

 
with her 66 Unicorn team mates



“We are always happy to have some healthy competition amongst each other but at the same time we always try to build each other up. We train hard, fight easy and most importantly we fight clean.”


“And as dramatic as it might sound, you can never repay the kindness of a teacher who lays his body down for the sake of your progress. And as a fighter we are the stewards of our craft, it is our job to pay it forward so others may experience the joys & true art of Muaythai.” 

loving her ‘training partner’

When she is not training or running her food & beverage business, she is active in non-profit work.

“I’m involve in an NGO – Future Alam Borneo (FAB) that deals with conservation awareness and education. We throw a huge wild life festival every year, which is called Borneo Rhythm of Rimba (ROR) Wildlife Festival.”

having the FAB meetings & discussion at BA LIN
ROR is an outdoor festival of music, art and adventure that stretches over 2 days at the Rainforest Discover Centre in Sandakan, Sabah. It’s a fun weekend packed with activities for learning and discovery about conservation that the families can enjoy.

“Our NGO deals with experiential conservation – meaning we try to create interesting ways to educate public about all these different conservation issues without putting them to sleep.” 

loving nature: outing to Berhala Island Sandakan with family

Naturally her other passion is cooking

“I am now also into growing my own food & planning to do a supper club pop up tour around Malaysia.
The concept in short is to try and find ways to
1) promote Sandakan produce.
2) promote local & sustainable 

     sourcing and buying culture.
3) discover other interesting local 
    / indigenous produce within   
    Malaysia & value add all the  
    above by creating an interesting 
    dining experience that get 
    people back in touch with nature 
    through what we eat. 


And believe it or not how we consume food is one of the major issues the planet have to deal with.


So I’m a chef at heart and that’s how I want to address the issue.”

I came away from the interview feeling in awe. In awe of meeting such a person that not only share the passion of martial arts as me but a person that knows firmly her role as a wife and mother but at the same uses her skills and knowledge to make Sandakan and the world she live in a much better place.

I am in return inspired. Inspired to do more, in whatever thingsor field I am involved in; and also to do more for our community and environment… and I hope you all are too.