For martial artists a gym is more than just a place where they hone their skills.
It is home to them, a platform to train with athletes, mingle with coaches and gain valuable advice from senior athletes.
And for Malaysia’s Hisyam “Zephyrus” Samsudin, Borneo Tribal Squad MMA in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah was just that.
A place he admitted he’s never felt more comfortable at, alongside it being a place where he found a mentor in the form of AJ “Pyro” Lias Mansor, one of Malaysia’s most senior martial artist and the ONE Featherweight Malaysia Tournament Champion.
In preparations for ONE: HEART OF LION happening in Singapore on November 9 however, Hisyam has been busy training at Ewako MMA, a gym the bantamweight athlete opened after making his debut with ONE Championship.
“This is the first time I’m training out of my gym for a fight.”
Everything was going perfect until about a month ago when his mentor AJ was hospitalised after suffering from a head tumour.
The Malaysian martial artist explained to Hisyam that he would like to focus on his own recovery.
But he dropped a text message to his ‘brother’ which further motivated the athlete ahead of his match in Singapore against China’s Xie Bin.
“He told me he’ll be with me at my corner, not physically but he’ll be watching over me from Kota Kinabalu.
“It’s going to be a different camp, but I know his advice and training will follow me wherever I go,” said the 27-year-old.
The Borneo athlete admitted AJ was like a brother to him, and it’ll feel weird without him at cageside come next Friday.
“It’ll feel weird because he’s always there for me since day one.
“We’ve been texting each other over the past few weeks on a daily basis.”
He added: “He never fails to tell me about my game plan, technique and teaching me how to avoid playing my opponents game on Friday.”
Hisyam’s fight will take place in the prelims at ONE: HEART OF THE LION, the first time ever fans around the world will see two World Champion versus World Champion Super-Bouts in one night.
In the main event, ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela “Unstoppable” Lee, will step up to challenge China’s Xiong Jing Nan for her ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title while ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano Fernandes will face ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion Kevin Belingon to unify the belts in the co-main event.
Two of ONE Championship’s latest signing will also be attending their very first event, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez.
“I’m a bit nervous about my opponent and also to be part of such an historic night.
“It’s the biggest card, and with Eddie and Demetrious watching on, I hope I’ll be able to have a quick chat with them,” he confessed.