Growing up, “Jungle Cat” Muhammad Aiman never looked for trouble – instead, trouble found him.
The Negeri Sembilan native was a quiet kid who preferred to do things on his own, but that attitude eventually led to him being on the receiving end of taunts from his schoolmates.
“It wasn’t quite bullying, to be honest, but growing up, I did get into a lot of fights,” the 25-year-old athlete said.
“Back in high school, a lot of kids didn’t like me. I don’t know why – it could be because I was just quiet and loved doing my things. That possibly made me a target.”
The “Jungle Cat” did not allow himself to be a victim, and he battled back every time someone took a dig at him.
“Because of that, I eventually started getting into fights, it’s not that I wanted to, but it was the only way to stop it,” he said.
A couple of years later, the lanky Malaysian kid grew an interest in boxing. He did not waste time and immediately worked hard at the “sweet science.”
His tormentors were aware that Aiman had picked up boxing, and eventually, the bullying slowed down. He went on to compete in a couple of matches, but soon after he stumbled into a slight problem outside of school – his mother did not fancy her son spending a lot of time in the sport.
“Honestly, I didn’t know she disliked me doing it, even when I was done with school,” the ONE Championship warrior said.
“I always told her I wanted to fight. She was angry, but she allowed me to do it during that time with one condition, that I would finish it and go on to college and get a proper job and stuff.”
Somewhere in 2012, he was introduced to mixed martial arts. And a year later, he signed up for the inaugural season of Malaysian Invasion Mixed Martial Arts, only losing by unanimous decision in the final. Then, he fulfilled his mom’s request to enter college while spending quite a bit of time training at Klinch MMA in Kuala Lumpur.
However, his interest in studying took a plunge and Aiman decided to quit college to further his martial journey.
“When I quit college, I told her I just wanted to train and make a career out of this. I had a few setbacks because the scene of the sport was different back then compared to what it is today,” Aiman said.
“I got a part-time job, but my mom suggested that I should work with the government, and maybe become a policeman. I knew I wouldn’t have time to train MMA because of that, as it would make me feel as though I have a leash on myself due to the long hours of the job.”
ONE Championship returns to action next with ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE on 28 February in Singapore.
The lead card starts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the ONE Super App at 5:30pm Malaysia Time (MYT). To watch the main card, tune-in to Astro Arena, RTM Sports, or RTM TV2 at 8:30pm MYT.