While happiness is a choice and is something a person should learn to tap into at all stages in life, going after his or her dreams adds a whole new element of fulfillment and satisfaction to an individual’s days.
Huang Shi Hao had to give up his promising profession to fully realize his dream of becoming a professional athlete in the constantly-growing world of mixed martial arts.
“It has always been my dream to turn pro. Even before, it felt like that this was my real path in life,” he said,
The 25-year-old Singaporean prospect is a decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, winning various grappling tournaments across the Asian region such as Grapple Asia, Pan Asian Jiu-Jitsu International, and the prestigious Abu Dhabi Combat Club.
After falling in love with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the age of 15, Shi Hao impressively progressed in the discipline known as “The Gentle Art,” eventually earning the rank of a brown belt.
“When I started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at 15 years old, it instilled discipline as a teen. Moreover, it kept me fit and active. Since then, I fell in love with martial arts. As I admired the sense of community at my gym, it gave me the confidence that I needed for my daily life,” he stated.
Shi Hao credits his martial arts training as an immense leverage when he landed a job at the Singapore Police Force.
“I became stronger—not only physically, but mentally,” he said. “I felt calmer and better at controlling my emotions. The values and lessons of martial arts did help me when I trained as a policeman in Singapore.”
However, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was not enough to satiate his growing hunger to learn. Simply put, he wanted something more.
Shi Hao went on to hone his skills as a complete martial artist by incorporating different combat disciplines and eventually transitioning to the multi-faceted field of mixed martial arts.
“I wanted to learn more. There was something missing. As a martial artist, I needed that essential elements in order to grow,” he explained.
Fascinated by the sport’s competitive nature, Shi Hao dabbled into various striking arts such as Muay Thai and boxing.
Complementing his exquisite ground game with a new-found arsenal in the stand-up department, Shi Hao dominated the Southeast Asian amateur mixed martial arts scene.
Under the Ultimate Beatdown umbrella, Shi Hao aced three of his assignments, winning two bouts by submission and one by way of knockout.
“After winning three matches in the amateurs, my coaches told me that I was ready for the professional scene. Getting that thumbs up from my coaches made me so happy because I worked hard to win those bouts,” he shared.
As he shined on the amateur level, ONE Championship took notice of Shi Hao and offered him a multi-bout contract to compete in Asia’s premier’s mixed martial arts organization.
“I was so happy when I got the call from ONE Championship. They are the one of the biggest organizations in the world. As an athlete in this growing sport, it’s like qualifying in the Olympics. It’s a big opportunity for me,” he asserted.
Although he got his wish to strut his wares on one of the sport’s biggest stages, Shi Hao had to leave his work as a police officer in pursuit of his lifelong dream to become a professional mixed martial arts athlete.
His superiors at the Singapore Police Force turned down his request to keep his stable day job while being a professional mixed martial artist.
“It was difficult for me to leave my job as a policeman, but by dedicating myself fulltime to this craft, I know all will be worth it,” he mentioned. “Someday, I will reap the fruits of my hard labor.”
“It is an honor to compete under ONE Championship as I consider it as the best mixed martial arts organization in Asia. I hope to be a ONE World Champion someday. I dedicate myself to a life of martial arts, and share the benefits that comes with being a martial artist,” Shi Hao added.
Even though mixed martial arts offers fame and fortune, Shi Hao knows that he will need to engage in another source of income as being a professional athlete is not a lifetime livelihood.
“My career as a fighter will not last for a long time. By the time I reach 38 or 40 years old, I need to retire and have another day job to support my family,” he conveyed. “Even though I love fighting, there will be a time in my life as a fighter that I will have to call it a day in competing. I know my old job as a police officer will be waiting for me when that day comes.”
Shi Hao is set to make both professional and promotional debut on the undercard of ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS, which takes place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on 18 May.
The man standing in Shi Hao’s way is China’s Xie Bin, one of the most talented young combatants to come out of the Tianjin province.
Xie started off his prizefighting run with a victory over compatriot Ma Shuang at ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS in July 2016 and has since put on several thrilling shows as a professional.
In his last outing, Xie submitted Cambodia’s Chan Rothana with an impressive second-round Brabo choke.
Xie is currently riding high on a two-bout winning streak and will look to push it to three when he takes on Shi Hao.
“I am facing a veteran in my debut. He already had five pro bouts in ONE Championship. But I am confident that I can give him a good match-up. I am here to prove that I deserve to be here,” he declared.
As he keeps his police uniform in his closet for the time being, Shi Hao’s sights are now focused on having his hand raised in triumph at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS.
“Martial arts is my passion. I’m really happy when I share and learn new things about martial arts with others. I’m surrounded by people who support me in training. It makes me stronger. I am ready for this upcoming bout,” he ended.