Tue, 08 Aug 2000

Rising boxing star Juan only wants career promotion in military

By Bona Beding

SANUR, Bali (JP): The 19th President's Cup international amateur boxing championships might have concluded last week but the jubilation will not last for ever for Juan Saparipan after taking his first gold in the flyweight division in an international event and being selected as best boxer.

"All I want from boxing is to get promotion in my military career. If I'm good as a boxer, why shouldn't my superiors promote me," said the Army second sergeant.

"Now I'm only a private and I want to become an officer in the future. I thank my corps superior for giving me chances to compete in many tournaments."

Born as Yuan Yuhan Saparipan in Cimahi, West Java, on March 10, 1975, the boxer, popularly known as Juan, started to become familiar with the sport through TV.

In 1991, the second son of Aan Rohanda and Eni Kartini started to practice boxing in his high school.

"I think joining a boxing club is much better than spending my spare time after school doing nothing. I have never fought on the street. I'm scared. But when fighting in the arena, it never scares me," he said.

His first competitive event was the 1993 Tangerang Regent's Cup where he won his first gold medal. He was also named as best boxer.

"Alhamdulillah (Thank God), I was also offered an opportunity to join the Army after winning the event. Oom (uncle) Franky Mawoka, the coach at the West Java military command, gave me the offer."

Unfortunately, after joining the Army and being deployed in Jakarta, Juan did not have much time to train in boxing.

In 1994, he started to practice boxing again. But the riot in May 1998, forced him to stop training as he was needed in the Army squad sent to secure the country's capital.

"I couldn't join the national training center because of the assignment. I had to deal with violent looters and rioters."

Due to his long-term absence, Juan almost lost hope in boxing. Luckily, he was called up by the Indonesian Amateur Boxing Association (Pertina) Jakarta chapter to join its centralized training program prior to the 1998 Jakarta Governor's Cup.

Since then Juan has been unstoppable and has grabbed the gold in every tournament in which he competed. He was called on to represent Jakarta in the 15th National Games in Surabaya in June. He managed to win the gold in the flyweight division defeating Antonius Denny of South Kalimantan.

Due to his achievements, Juan has been summoned by Pertina to go to the national training center for next year's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur.

"Although I have only been in the center for two weeks, I managed to beat Yuuji Kimura of Japan in the final of the President's Cup. It means a lot to me," he said with a smile.

The tournament has become a stepping stone for Juan to progress even further in the international arena. He will be one of Indonesia's best hopes to hoist the red-and-white banner in the SEA Games, Asian Games and Olympic Games in the future.