Fathers play many roles in parenting responsibilities to their children. Some are involved in every aspect of their children’s lives, while others work on only selective facets.
Regardless of which areas a father chooses, this relationship begins the journey towards an inevitable bond between parent and offspring.
Hisyam “Zephyrus” Samsudin, a professional mixed martial artist who hails from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, looked up to his father all throughout his life and considered him as his personal hero.
“The most important influence in my childhood was my father. My dad was my hero because he’s someone I looked up to every single day,” he shared.
Samsudin’s father supported him in the early stages of his martial arts journey as he trained at a local training facility in his hometown to lose weight.
The 27-year-old Malaysian pugilist used to weigh 100 kilograms as an overweight child, whose only exercise was getting up off the couch to use the bathroom.
“I was really fat before. Eating was my hobby. When I was a kid, I was not very active. I was just at home being cozy and always eating. I was shy. I did not really talk to people,” he revealed.
Samsudin’s fitness breakthrough finally came in 2009 when he commenced his college education at a local university in Kota Kinabalu.
During his free time, he checked out the highly-regarded Borneo Tribal Squad, where he met head coach and fellow ONE Championship athlete AJ “Pyro” Lias Mansor.
Samsudin dedicated time and effort to his training, training twice a day with Mansor in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling.
A few months later, Samsudin started to see the result of his hard work, which also won the commendation of his father.
“I became stronger—not only physically, but mentally. My dad was so happy because he knew it was good for my health,” he recalled.
Although Samsudin initially started learning martial arts for shedding excess weight, it led him to a continuous path of self-improvement.
“You should get physical strength by working out or practicing martial arts to protect yourself. I don’t regret anything. Learning martial arts was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life,” he said.
As he progressed deeper into his martial arts journey, Samsudin dabbled into different combat disciplines such as Muay Thai and boxing.
Fascinated by martial arts’ competitive nature, Samsudin eventually transitioned from being a student learning the tricks of the trade to becoming a professional competitor.
Samsudin’s father was a bit hesitant about his choice to compete professionally, but he ultimately earned both of his parents’ support.
“I guess it’s normal for parents to be worried because what we do is so physical. After talking to them and explaining things, they understood. Also, they knew it started to become my passion,” he stated. “They ended up being my strong followers because of my persistence.”
Samsudin experienced major success in the sport of boxing in February 2016 when he replaced an injured Thai athlete in a four-man tourney in Singapore to determine the World Boxing Federation (WBF) Asia-Pacific light heavyweight champion.
Despite being several kilograms underweight, Samsudin won the whole tournament, becoming the first Malaysian to hold a WBF title.
“My parents, especially my father, were really nervous at that time. I am glad that I came home unharmed and as a champion. I celebrated with my family, friends and teammates when I got back. It was such a memorable moment,” he remembered.
After capturing the WBF Asia-Pacific light heavyweight belt, Samsudin elected to hang up his boxing gloves and turned his attention to the ONE Championship cage.
As a mixed martial arts competitor, Samsudin holds a professional record of 2-2 with a pair of wins by way of knockout and submission.
In his second outing as ONE Championship athlete last September, Samsudin claimed a bittersweet victory when he thwarted Indonesian hometown hero Jeremy Meciaz via first-round technical knockout.
Samsudin was incredibly emotional after hearing the announcer declare his name as the winner.
With tears flowing from his eyes, Samsudin dedicated his triumph to his father, who passed away just 24 hours prior to the bout.
“I love you, dad. This is for you,” Samsudin uttered in his post-match interview with color commentator Mitch Chilson.
According to Samsudin, his father’s last wish before he died was for him to notch his first victory on the world’s premier martial arts stage.
“He flew from my hometown to Jakarta with my mom to watch me compete. All he wanted was to see me get my hand raised as the winner of the bout,” he articulated.
After getting the news that his father passed away, Samsudin disclosed that it was his mother who gave him the strength to go on with his bout.
“I was unsure whether to get into the cage, but my mom told me to do it as because my dad came all the way to see me fight,” he said. “He came to Jakarta to support me and see me win. Thankfully, I got the win. I dedicated it to him.”
Strutting his wares in front of a partisan crowd and with the passing of his father at the back of his mind, Samsudin came on strong and weathered the storm.
“I was ready to throw in the towel, but my family gave me the motivation and the drive to enter the cage. Even though my father is gone, I still have them. My friends and family are now the source of my strength,” he stated.
Now taking care of his mother, Samsudin believes that he has to hold onto his persistence as he knows that life will never be a straightforward pathway.
“Life can get hard and things can go wrong, but no matter what happens, I’ve got to stay strong for my family. I know deep in my heart that difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations,” he ended.
Samsudin is set to return to action on 24 March as he tests his mettle against “The Terminator” Sunoto of Indonesia on the undercard of ONE: IRON WILL in Bangkok, Thailand.