Ever wondered who were the pioneers of Singapore bodybuilding that brought this sport to glory in both regional and World levels? As we sink into modern bodybuilding with numerous fanciful state-of-the-art equipment, training methods and supplementation, let us not forget how our nation’s bodybuilding heroes made it to World stage even with limited resources in the past. Let me take you on a walk down memory lane. Here are some of the past champions who have put Singapore bodybuilding on the map.
Pang Nai Seng
Above: A newspaper article about Pang in 1967. Source:http://newspapers.nl.sg/Digitised/Page/straitstimes19680922-1.1.12.aspx
If you are a bodybuilding fan who has been attending most of our local competitions, you may see an old man often seated in the VIP seats and sometimes being called on stage to present prizes. That man is none other than Pang Nai Seng. He is better known as Uncle Pang by many. In 1967, 29-year old Pang became the first Singaporean to represent the nation for the World Championships, where he clinched a 4th place. Pang’s passion for bodybuilding still lives with him till today. At 80-years-old, he still does 1-to-1 coaching at one of the neighbourhood gyms.
Rohmat was also one of the pioneers of Singapore bodybuilding. His legendary and phenomenal lats spread can still be remembered by many veterans today. Rohmat’s accomplishments include the 1973 Overall Champion Mr Asia and a 6th position for the World Championships. Rohmat has also contributed to the success of various well-known bodybuilders like Wong Hong and Azman Abdullah, to name a few. Today, Rohmat has relocated in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where he runs his own gym and coaching business.
Fatholomein (better known as Fathol) was one of the best posers of Singapore Bodybuilding. His classical, smooth, flawless and often show-stopping posing trasitions never failed to put the audience in awe. Fathol has represented the nation and won numerous regional championships. He is well-liked and respected not just for his achievements but also his jovial character. Today, Fathol mentors many aspiring bodybuilders for their competitions.
Azman was the first and only Singaporean to have clinched the title of Mr Universe. In 1993 he had four other prestigious gold medals under his belt. Azman trained under Serge Nubret when he prepared for the World Championship. Among the competitions which he took part in were the IFBB Night of Champions and World Games. Size, thickness and full, round muscle bellies – those were Azman’s assets which seem unbeatable even till today. After his retirement from competitive bodybuilding, Azman went on to be a bodybuilding coach with the SBBF, producing champions with his mentorship. Azman was awarded the Sportsman of the Year award in 1993 for his achievements which are still unmatched by anyone in Singapore till today.
Abdul Halim Bin Haron
Halim’s sacrifices for bodybuilding are indeed respectable. His sheer determination won him the gold medal at the 2002 Busan Asian Games Bantam Weight category. Halim started out competing as a Welterweight but was asked to shed off 10kg to make weight in the above-mentioned competition. Halim has trained under former Mr Universe, Mohamed Makawwy in preparation for the 2006 Asian Games. The fruits of his labour can be seen as he was recognized on the SSC’s hall of fame for his outstanding performance.
Ibrahim Bin Sihat
Ibrahim is arguably the all-time best bantamweight on the local scene. An avid competitor since the 1980s, he still remains in good shape even after retirement from competitive bodybuilding. A 6-time SEA Games Champion, Ibrahim also clinched a World Ranking in 2006. In that same year, he placed 3rd in the Doha Asian Games flyweight category despite being the oldest competitor in his category. Ibrahim was also one of the national coaches who guided young bodybuilders to compete in both local and international levels.
Amir Bin Zainal
A former Asian Games Champion, Amir was one of the full time athletes with the SBBF. Amir has also won numerous national and regional medals. A disciplined and committed athlete, Amir often forced his weight down to 60kg for regional competitions despite competing as a lightweight at 70kg locally. Amir has retired from competitive bodybuilding since the 2007 SEA Games, where he clinched a silver medal.
Simon Chua Ling Fung
A 2-time Asian Games Champion, Simon has always been known for his aesthetics and his ‘split’ in his posing routines. His sacrifices were commendable, especially when he continued to strive for his gold medal in Busan despite having a fever a week before. Simon has participated in numerous regional championships, being the first to bring back an Asian Games medal for the nation in the Welterweight category. Simon did not announce his retirement after his last win.
Vincent Ng Han Cheng
Vincent was one of the lightest bodybuilders in history of Singapore bodybuilding. Weighing at only 55kg in international competitions, Vincent never failed to bring in spot-on conditioning. In 2007, Vincent brought glory to Singapore by attaining a World Ranking (4th) for his category.
Mohammad Ismail Bin Muhammad
Ismail is the man known for his robotic moves during his free posing routines. Often a show stopper, he displayed outstanding charisma and showmanship in his competitions. A humble and easy going man, Ismail is well-liked and respected by many local bodybuilders. Ismail was actively competing till his late 40s. His last competition before retirement was the 2007 South East Asian Games. Today, Ismail contributes to the sport by judging local competitions like the National Championship.
Augustine Lee Kong Seong
Photo: Muscular Development
Augustine picked up bodybuilding at 30 years old. Yes, you got it right, 30! Even though he started way before most people, he has managed to surpass those who have been training way longer. Augustine has won almost every National Championship which he took part in. He has also won various titles at Masters Level (above 50), which makes him an evergreen athlete. Augustine’s last competition was the Arnold Amateurs 2014 (Masters Category) which was held recently, clinching a 6th place at age 60!
Agnes Quintessa Lee
Agnes was one of the pioneers for Women’s Bodybuilding in Singapore. Winning upon her debut in 1986 has driven her to train and compete in regional competitions. Agnes has done the nation proud by winning numerous regional titles. She ended her career with a bang, clinching a gold medal in Russia at 50 years old before retiring from competitive bodybuilding. Today, Agnes is a personal trainer by profession. She continues to serve as an inspiration for the younger generation as she still looks ripped and phenomenal all year round at 61 years, young!
Joan is the epitome of masculinity and femininity. Recently crowned Champion for the Women’s Physique Division in the Arnold Amateurs 2014, Joan has been actively competing and presenting the nation since her first win at the Asian Bodybuilding Championships in year 2000. Joan currently runs the Fitness Factory gym with Augustine Lee, her business and training partner.