We catch up with founder of King of Strength (KOS) boxing gym, Kumar Perumal, for a chat on his inspiring boxing and entrepreneurial journey.
It’s not everyday you cross paths with a cancer survivor turned founder and head coach of a boxing gym, is it? 24-year-old Kumar Perumal first took up boxing a decade ago, owing to his interest in martial arts. The Republic Polytechnic graduate who holds a Diploma in Sports & Exercise Sciences also tried his hand at taekwondo when he was much younger. However, boxing took a back seat when he was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal carcinoma – a rare form of cancer.
Fortunately for Kumar, fate had it that he would eventually beat the vicious disease and emerge stronger than ever before. We caught up with the down-to-earth young man for a chat on his now flourishing sporting enterprise, KOS boxing gym.
What inspired you to start your own boxing gym, and why did you name it King of Strength?
When I first had the idea of starting this gym, I told my mum and brother to help me come up with a few names. My brother called me back shortly and suggested the name ‘King of Strength’. It was something he had thought of and he said he would come up with a few more. But I liked it already and therefore was not interested to hear the other suggestions. I decided to stick with the name ‘King of Strength’.
What are some challenges you faced while trying to start up KOS?
A major problem till date would be my age. Many people think that age is closely linked with maturity and experience. I beg to differ. People all over the world are achieving the impossible at such a young age. I consider my current achievements long overdue.
How different is KOS from many other gyms out there?
KOS is located in a residential area. So I believe our location is different from the other gyms which are mostly situated in malls or in the Central Business District to cater to office workers.
KOS won Singapore’s Outstanding Enterprise Award in 2015. How did you feel about that victory?
It definitely felt really good. This award came in just a few months after we moved into our previous place. We had initially started training at a void deck before moving into a small space. At that point of time, many people were still looking down on us for training at a void deck and not having a big team. People still saw it as a business that was run by a young person. No one took us seriously. When we won this prestigious award and it was shared on social media, many people started to take us seriously and believed that we might have some substance. This award came at the right time to boost my team and myself.
However, we knew that we should not be celebrating for too long, so we got back to serious work that evening itself.
Are there plans to open more KOS branches in the near future?
Definitely! That is a dream – to have more KOS branches. However, we are in no rush. We are more concerned about making the current gym better before replicating it in a different location. There will of course be another KOS branch, but it will take some time before it happens.
Tell us more about how being a cancer survivor influenced your decisions in life.
When I was told that I had cancer, my entire life turned upside down. From being a student, going to school and playing carefree, it came to a standstill. My life revolved around the hospital and home. Due to this experience, I have learnt that we can go from 100 to 0 in just seconds and the other way round too. That makes my decision-making quick and I have learnt not to be afraid to take risks. When making business related decisions or even during my everyday life, I always tell myself that anything can happen at any time. As such, I try not to worry too much about what can or will happen.
When I am about to take a risk, I am aware of the possible consequences of my decision. I also tell myself that I will definitely climb back up instead of worrying too much, should anything go wrong. Of course I still seek advice, but nothing can stop me if I have made up my mind. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been supporting my decisions thus far!
How has the response to KOS been from the Indian community?
We have a decent number of Indians who have joined KOS. It is encouraging to know that more Indians are interested in picking up the sport seriously. Our age range is wide – we have members as young as 7 years old and as old (but young at heart) as 50.
What is the best and/or worst experience you have had as a boxing coach?
My best experience is when I realise that an individual who came in with no knowledge of boxing grows to become someone whom others look up to. I have had no bad experiences; everything is a learning point for me.
What’s one important piece of advice you give your boxers before a big match?
I always tell them to close their eyes and think of all the training which they have gone through. This will give them the assurance that they have come a long way; the hard work they have put in and their dedication will not go to waste.
When it comes to keeping fit, what is the number one mistake many Indians make?
Not only Indians, but everyone makes the common mistake of being inconsistent. Fitness is not about what you can accomplish in a day or a week. It is about keeping fit constantly, throughout your life.
Why do you think local Indians hesitate when it comes to taking up a sport like boxing?
I’m not sure actually. Maybe they think it’s a violent and dangerous sport. I personally feel that they should try it out first to know how much of discipline it can instil in a person. They might also be surprised at how safe the sport actually is!
Complete the sentence: “You should join KOS boxing gym…”
“…if you are ready to make a difference in your life and your physique.”
Images courtesy of Kumar Perumal and King of Strength boxing gym.