“I was always a really angry kid… I was smaller than everybody else and I felt like I had to prove myself.”
This was the mindset of Khoi Nguyen as a 10-year-old primary school student who dealt with anger issues amongst others on a daily basis. When I sat down with Nguyen, his cool composure wouldn’t have suggested that issues such as these would have ever affected his life.
Besides being a physically smaller kid than everyone else on the playground, one of the main sources of Nguyen’s anger was the passing of his father at a young age.
“Dad got me into Karate when I was 10… Originally it wasn’t my thing but it was all about patterns and discipline.
“When my Dad passed away I became angrier. My Mum didn’t really know how to take it, so instead of confining me she let me do whatever I wanted, to compensate for not having a father… I took that as a key to do whatever I wanted, and I did some stupid stuff.”
For personal reasons, Nguyen didn’t wish to speak in detail of the events of his teenage years. As he progressed further into becoming a young adult, he became very aware of his troubles, and says that being introduced to boxing at the age of 16 was the beginning of the end for his issues as an adolescent.
“It wasn’t until later on that I realised wow, this is getting really bad. It was a big wake up call.
“I moved up the belts in karate and I guess I just wanted to try boxing out… To me it was very disciplined and I fell in love with it… My life became structured from then on.”
Boxing has now become a huge part of Nguyen’s life, in and out of the ring. Due to boxing, he has been able to use his newfound discipline and maturity to assist in aspects of his life that may have turned out differently if it weren’t for the sport.
“Its definitely made me more homed, more structured, more disciplined. I’m definitely not as angry.
“I’ve had incidents where someone’s tried to pick a fight with me, and then I’ve just walked away. Purely because of the fact that, I get beaten up on a daily basis in the gym and I have to prove myself there, why do I have to prove myself to somebody who I don’t know anything about?”
Nguyen is now aged 24 and currently nearing the completion of a Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Medical Science, and says that his motivation to be able to study can also somewhat be drawn from aspects of boxing.
“My coach will say I have three rounds of sparring left to go before I have a break, so I push through the three rounds, and if I’m studying I say to myself okay, you have this segment of the assignment to do and then you can have a break.”
To conclude our conversation, I asked Nguyen to sum up how he thought that boxing had changed his life for the better.
“It’s just made me more calm and more chilled, and I see the smaller aspects of life so trivial now.”