General Affairs General Sport & Adventure

William vs. Federer

The tennis world saw the retirement of two world class players this year. Instead of lamenting their departure as “losses”, I prefer to celebrate the remarkable career that they had.

Naturally, those who are obsessed with the label of GOAT (Greatest Of All Times) would argue to crown either players or lay down their reasoning for why neither of them ought to be. Personally, I believe when that level of athleticism has been attained, be it the longest running World No. 1, the highest number of Grand Slam wins, who is crown the GOAT is simply an entirely subjective act.

The atmosphere surrounding the news break of both players, unfortunately, were quite a contrast. Roger Federer is widely regarded as a ‘faultless’ player. It will be very difficult to meet anyone who openly dislike him. I, for one, have never come across any person of any colour/ nationality/ gender, whether tennis fan or not, have anything negative to say about Federer.

On the other hand, the moment Williams announces her intention to ‘evolve’ away from tennis, millions of gloaters emerge all over social media, mercilessly rejoicing that she did not manage to attain nor surpass Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam wins. The same people who didn’t remind Federer that both Djokovic and Nadal had long beaten Federer in his Grand Slam record wins.

That mockery, to me, wasn’t the most hypocritical issue. In her career, people made fun of her colour, wardrobe choice, playing style, body type and God knows what other aspects of Serena that had entirely nothing to do with the sport. Each time she loses her cool, her flaws are amplified and criticized repeatedly. I do not believe any human being has the perfect temperament. Even the great Federer was known to have a bad temper in his earlier years. Should those angry moments be replicated and condescended over and over again, would he still be the calm and composed man he is known for later in his career?

There is no simple equation to becoming a tennis great. The amount of physical, emotional and psychological prowess of every one of them is beyond the comprehension of the average layman. While every one of us may try to use logic or tangible qualifiers to determine who the GOAT is, nothing quite beat the honour of having another world class player declare that you are the GOAT, because there are only a handful of people in this world who truly know what it takes.

In 2018, Roger Federer famously called Serena Williams “The greatest tennis player ever”. “Overall”, he clarifies. Not “Female tennis player”. He didn’t go on to explain why he thinks that. Interestingly enough, no one really asked either.

In my humble, unqualified opinion, Serena Williams triumphs Court, Graf, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and others who can be considered a GOAT of tennis by one simple reason. Tennis has been, and in many ways still is, a privileged white man’s sport. None of the other tennis greats were born as poor as Williams, none of them were treated as second class citizens in their country of birth due to no fault of them. It is not a surprise for me this significant handicap is rarely mentioned when anyone is tabulating the achievements of these athletics. Racism, combined with misogyny is a blend so disgusting that it leaves a bitter after taste no one wants to admit that they dislike Williams because they are quite simply, bigots.

No conclusions on this mindless rambling. Time poor these days with lives to raise.

General Sport & Adventure Martial Arts WMMA Women Boxing

Battle of the Sexes II: Tennis & MMA

Battle of the Sexes – Tennis

“No woman ever lived who could compete with a man on an equal basis – even a 55-year-old man… they can’t play a lick if they can’t beat a 55-year-old guy.” These are the infamous words of Bobby Riggs in 1973 before he went on to defeat his first women challenger Margaret Court. The better-known battle, however, was fought between Riggs and Billie Jean King that same year. The match had an estimated audience of 50 million in the USA and 90 million worldwide. It remains as one of the largest audiences to see a tennis match in the United States.

King’s physical win over her opposite sex did not convince men of her superior athleticism over Riggs. Speculations of Riggs deliberately losing the match to win a financially lucrative bet threw a dark cloud over the glory of her victory. Fortunately, for a man who once declared his desire to be the number one “chauvinist pig”, Riggs eventually acknowledged the legitimacy of his defeat as he said, “People said I was tanking, but Billie Jean beat me fair and square.”

Battle of the Sexes – MMA Take I

“99% of woman are too weak and lack the reflexes to do enough damage to stop 99% of men”, said the previously unknown Kristopher Zylinski. He was more commonly referred to as the Sexist Internet troll that eventually signed up to fight a female professional MMA fighter in early 2018.


45 years after King defeated Riggs, many men still see women as an inferior counterpart in sport. What has changed, however, is the willingness of women to step up to defend themselves. A number of women MMA fighters put their names down to go against the Zylinski, including the terrifying 6 ft. 2 tall, 236 lbs. Brazilian Fighter Gabi Garcia. Zylinski then clarified that he would only fight someone his weight class – at 160 lbs., but he would gladly take on a pro female fighter. Eventually, Tara LaRosa, an MMA veteran of 27 pro fights stepped in as the female representative of the battle.

The fight was scheduled to be live-streamed on the 6th Jan 2018, but at the 11th hour, the State Athletic Commission shut down the fight.

Battle of the Sexes – MMA Take II

Undeterred, LaRosa and Zyllinski rescheduled the match in an unknown time and location for the match. Their fight was recorded and broadcasted on 22nd Jan 2018. In contrast to King vs. Riggs, the MMA Battle of the Sexes had a live audience of one man – the videographer.


Zylinski – a fit, muscular young man was worn down by his female opponent. He surrendered twice, first time due to exhaustion and later due to an arm bar. He claimed that LaRosa won because she was better conditioned to fight training. He considered the experience ‘eye-opening’ and did not expect for someone with his sound fitness level he would be gassed out within 4 minutes.

Any viewers who had expected Zylinski to win probably imagined a victorious knock out. Even LaRosa admitted as much, “Yeah I was nervous as hell… I thought to God … he was going to start like, swing on me and knock me out.” The reality, however, was that Zylinski had little grasp of striking distance and struggled to even get close enough to attempt a punch. “The distance was very tough,” he explains. “You expose yourself a lot”. In his second effort to defeat her, he tried to wrestle her to the ground.

Unfortunately for Zylinski, grappling was where LaRosa was most advantageous. “My game plan… was to go to the ground immediately”. Nonetheless, she still needed to utilise her years of muscle memory, manoeuvring her opponent using her body weight instead of brute force. “Even on the ground he was stronger than me,” LaRosa conceded.

Mind, Muscle, Memory

Aside from luck and other external factors, Mind, Muscle and Memory are three main aspect of an athlete that can influence the outcome of a match. Men usually focus solely on ‘Muscle’. Undoubtedly, pound for pound, men are generally stronger and thus they decide that women will always lose.

In the battles of the sexes, from King vs. Riggs to LaRosa vs. Zylinski, the women won their tournaments via a superior mind game that drew on the wisdom of their memories. King changed her aggressive style and adopted a baseline game to counter Riggs’ defensive methods. She gained insight from the loss of Margaret Court earlier that year. Eventually, King wore Riggs down after forcing him to run far more than he was accustomed to. LaRosa observed that Zylinski “was not conditioned mentally. I know the drill, to relax, to breath regularly.”

“Sorry I could not do better,” Zylinski apologised sheepishly as he collapsed onto the mat at the end of his fight. When asked if he felt humbled by this, ‘Sexist Internet Troll’ followed the lead of his ancestor ‘Number One Chauvinist Pig’ and agreed readily.

Video footage of the match can be seen:

Battle of the Sexes discusses two types of tournament between 2 men & 2 women – Tennis, Riggs & Court and MMA, LaRosa vs Zylinski.

General Sport & Adventure

Chung Hyeon to face the tough road ahead after becoming first Korean to reach AO Semi-finals

Chung Hyeon just defeated Tennys Sandgren to become one of the youngest singles player and the first Korean to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Up next, he will be facing either Roger Federer or Tomáš Berdych. When asked which player he’d rather go against, he is undecided, or in his words “50-50”.

What the young Chung will have to face in the near future are greater challenges than either Federer or Berdych. Whilst Chung was playing Djokovic only two days ago, the commentators freely admitted that they knew next to nothing about this young fella. There were only two known aspects of his life then – (1) Chung Hyeon took up tennis due to issues with his eyesight as a child. (2) He was training in harsh conditions in Thailand just a month prior to his outstanding performance in Australian Open.

Chung vs Djokovic USA today


Asian Media

Now that he has written history in the textbook of the Gram Slam down under, the road he faces ahead will be tough. Mass media is never easy on the famous. In Asia, the ferocity can be twice as harsh. The pressures of fame once nearly destroyed a young athlete in China. Liu Xiang, the Olympic Hurdler created a new record and became China’s first gold medalists in the track and field event in 2004. It was an unexpected win and for a young man of 20, he won fame and fortune overnight. Within 4 years, the pressures of obtaining a second gold medal in home ground Beijing during the 2008 Olympics finally cracked him. He walked off the tracks after a false start, dashing the hopes of the most populous nation in the world.

I’d imagine as I am typing my thoughts on this blog, sports journalists around the world will be frantically searching for information about this new young gun. It won’t be long before his Wikipedia page will be completed with the names of his mum and dad, brothers and sisters, current and future partners. His iconic white glasses will be featured in fashion magazines and spectacle stores all over South Korea. The advertisements will follow along with quotations, social media and finally, the haters.

The Birth of a Star

In my opinion, Chung Hyeon has the makings of a new star. He plays with the resilience of Novak Djokovic – reaching out for the ball even when it looks like a lost point. His strategy is varied and well executed, he has areas where he can further improve to enhance his prowess. Chung has the calmness and focus of Federer, rarely showing emotions on court and never undermining his opponent. He has the humbleness the young and talented Nick Kyrgios lacks. I do hope with all my heart that Chung Hyeon will have the inner strength of Serena Williams to withstand the wrath of haters and the bigots that is coming his way.



General Sport & Adventure

If You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try and Try Again

I grew up in a country where the highest point was less than 550 feet. As a child I was barely interested in walking to the nearest bus stop. While I have always been athletic, the concept of hiking through snow-capped mountains was an activity that only existed in inspirational posters and blockbuster movies.

Humble Beginnings

My first hike in the wilderness came about through naivety and youthful optimism. I was 25 years old travelling through South America. My fellow backpackers were experienced hikers, but deceived by my sporty physique they allowed me to tag along a 3-day hike in Torres del Paine. A 19-year old English girl who grew up in Malawi was my tent mate. She wasn’t nearly as clueless but she was a little less than hiking fit. Together, we made a magnificent ‘dumb and dumber’ pair. We got lost but with an ignorant confidence we powered through and completed the walk with only damage to our pride. Despite the hardship I found the hiking enjoyable and took it up as a hobby.

Fast-forward 11 years. I have climbed Mount Kinabalu (Malaysia) and Roraima (Venezuela). I have ventured into Everest base camp, Machu Picchu, Mount Cook National Park and ambled through the Tien-shan ranges in Kazakhstan. While I wasn’t prepared to become a technical climber, I yearned for greater heights and to push my capacity to its limit. One day, a colleague mentioned ‘Aconcagua’, one of the highest trek-able mountains in the world that was accessible to mere mortals like me. I knew immediately that the 22,840 feet summit of the Aconcagua would become the greatest climbing goal of my life.

First Aconcagua Attempt

I devised a training plan based on suggestions of seasoned climbers. Twice a month, I would ascend 3,300 feet carrying a progressively heavy backpack, starting at 26 lbs. In my last practise run, I was lugging a 45 lbs. pack in an 8-hour hike. I ran 9.5 miles and cycled 65 miles a week; on top of that I was continuing my full time job and my thrice-weekly kickboxing regime. By the time I arrive in Mendoza the meeting point the expedition, I was exhausted.

My first team was small; there were only 4 of us including the guide. The walk to Plaza Argentina base camp was thankfully uneventful. However, the other 2 climbers acclimatized faster then I did. In the few days I spent in base camp, my oxygen saturation level increased insignificantly. I struggled getting up to the first high camp. The guide realised I was the weakest link and sent me packing.

It was devastating. It wasn’t simply the notion of failure coupled with the months of manic training that crippled me with sadness. I felt that my guide was pushing for a speedy ascend and did not allow due opportunity for me to better acclimate before making such a harsh decision. My turnaround point was barely past 16,400 feet, a thousand feet shy of my personal best.

Second Aconcagua Attempt

2 years later, I returned for my second summit endeavour. This time round, scarred by the previous hectic training plan, I did little more than an occasional run and ride. On the plus side, my odds were better with a larger group of 13 climbers and 4 guides so the team could be split up in accordance to our abilities.

The walk to Plaza Argentina was again pleasantly uneventful. I tread cautiously, staying calm yet the threat of altitude sickness concerned me daily. Nonetheless I was sufficiently happy to break my personal record and focused on having a good time in the mountain.

Summit day was a treacherous 15-hour hike. Bad weather had demanded we leave the park a day earlier hence we had to cover the same distance with less time. That morning, we were yanked out of bed in the dark and spent the better part of the morning putting on the layers of clothing before peeling ourselves away from the tent. My memory of the first moments of the climb was hazy due to sleep deprivation, but I did remember people shouting from one end of our single file to the other. By the time we reach 19,600 feet, 3-4 people had given up and returned to camp. In my delirious mode I gritted my teeth and egged myself on.

In the chaos of fierce winds I could hear nothing by my own shortness of breathe. When we arrived at a bottom of an enormous slope, I felt myself shaking with cold and my extremities devoid of feeling. It was around -4°F with wind chill. In spite of 5-6 layers of merino and fleeces, a down jacket plus a raincoat, heat was seeping out too quickly. I asked a guide how high we were. He yelled through the wind, “6,100 metres!” (20,013 feet). All well, that’s good enough for me, I thought. I gave him a hand gesture that could only mean “That’s all folks”. He then gave me instructions to the nearest safety point where I would wait for help.

Even though my second effort was still unfruitful I was pleased with having reached a personal record height. Furthermore I made friends in perilous circumstances. The best takeaway for me was the opportunity to experience the life of a high altitude climber. I do not envisage ever attempting Mount Everest or the likes, but through vivid imagination I can understand what it must be like for people clawing their way up to the impossible. The vista of endless white peaks was a beauty that is forever imprinted in my soul because I had earned it. The knowledge that I was stretch close to the limits of my physical and mental capacity became the ultimate reward for my life as a mountaineer. With these thoughts in mind, I dream on as I make plans for a third summit bid of Aconcagua.