KUCHING: Winning the gold medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, the world’s second-largest multi-sports event after the Olympics, put Sapok Biki and Malaysia in the boxing limelight.
Even though he had represented the country at the Olympics two years prior to the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, he was still little-known among Malaysians then, with the exception of ardent boxing fans.
“At that time, I did not stand out, maybe because boxing was still not so popular among sports enthusiasts. But after the Commonwealth Games, and maybe the factor of being the host country at the time (I began to stand out) and my achievement was to win the last gold medal for Malaysia in the sporting event,” he added.
The Sarawak-born began his boxing career in 1994 and was selected as one of the athletes in the ‘Jaya 98 Programme’ managed by the National Sports Council to compete in the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
Speaking to Bernama here recently, the former national boxer said at that time Malaysia did not entertain high hopes for boxing at the 1998 Games.
His shocking victory, however, changed the sporting landscape in the country.
Sapok, who is now 46, said although it was almost two decades since the feat, he felt that the success would not have been possible but for the independence, peace and prosperity of the country.
“We look at the success of our athletes, for example, they can be successful and reach the highest level in sports because the country is peaceful with a stable economy and administration,” he said.
People from all walks of life, regardless of their social status, must appreciate the value of freedom and independence as the previous generation has made great sacrifices to achieve it, he added.
According to Sapok, the Rukun Negara is the foundation for unity in the country and should be refined and appreciated so that the sense of togetherness, and integration among the community can be preserved and further strengthened.
“Every principle contained in the Rukun Negara has great meaning and, if we fully appreciate it, we will definitely feel that we are the luckiest people, to be able to live together as Malaysians,” he said.
“We must discipline ourselves and always be grateful for what we have gained from the struggles of the previous generations.
“The current generation must continue the struggle so that our country can progress and continue to develop,” he said.
The living legend is currently helping to coach Sarawak’s team of boxers for the Johor Sukma next March. — Bernama