Photos and report by Jeffrey Pamungkas
Muhammad Rachman (64-10-5, 33 KOs) who just sensationally won the WBA mini-flyweight title by KO in round nine over the defending champion Kwantai Sithmorseng (31-1-1, 17 KOs) was completely self-trained for the world championship fight. A former IBF champion in the same division, the 39-year-old Rachman proved that he’s still harder than a rock. He wakes up early at 4AM running as far as 10 KM (around 6 miles) on a soccer stadium near his home in Blitar, Indonesia, alone. “I run on the grass field, and I think it feels like a ring canvas,” said Rachman. After running he does routine physical training such as push-ups, sit-ups, etc. and still all alone.
Around 7AM he finishes his morning training then returns at his home, takes a shower and back as a normal life as a businessman. In the afternoon, after returning home, he does shadow boxing and hits the sandbags. He does it everyday and he prepares his own training program when he gets a fight invitation, including the WBA title fight with Kwantai Sithmorseng. “I only have one assistant in training, my wife,” he said. “She prepares good meals for me, and in the afternoon she becomes my timekeeper when I hit the sand bag.”
A more incredible fact: for the preparation against Kwantai, he paid an assistant on a daily basis for helping him do padwork. “I only did punching pad five times for this fight,” Rachman explains. He also comes to Surabaya, the big city near him, for sparring with the boxers in the gym. “Trust me or not, instead of more than 100 sparring rounds as done by most of world champions in this world, I only did totally 16 rounds during my three days in Surabaya before this fight. Besides sparring for myself, I also taught the young boxers a boxing lesson.”
In his youth, Rachman was known as a counterpuncher who liked to trade punches with his opponents. “When my opponent hit me once, I could punish him with three or four consecutive punches,” said Rachman. “But I realize that I’m now growing old. I don’t want to amuse people by ruining myself. So I changed my style, I’m now a counter boxer,” explained Rachman. “I made the strategy by myself by establishing what I call as effective and efficient boxing. Now I will not allow my opponent to hit me, and I’ll wait the best moment to throw my punches.”
That strategy was applied when he dethroned Kwantai Sithsamerchai, April 20 at Krungthep Thonburi University, Bangkok, Thailand. Rachman kept waiting, watching and avoiding Kwantai’s dangerous punches with excellent body and foot movement. He got the best moment when Kwantai was getting tired, Rachman found a hole in Kwantai’s defense. A combination of uppercut and hook landed on Kwantai’s chin, sending the champion down to the canvas. He got up at the eight count, but everybody knew he was gone. Rachman then attacked the staggering boxer with all of his power. Kwantai went down, trying to stand up, but he was too weak to get up and remained seated on the canvas until referee Guilermo Perez Pineda finished his ten count.
“We have some alternatives for Rachman’s next fights, but I can’t disclose them now, said Erik Irawan, Rachman’s manager. “We’re still under discussions with related parties. So please wait.”