Kilat Boy: Small town boxer with fast fists and big dream of Olympic gold

Daeloniel McDelon Bong

By Nancy Nais

Kuching, Oct 25: For many elite athletes, winning an Olympics gold medal symbolises the peak of sports excellence.

Many spend years thinking of it. It is their first thought upon waking up, and their last thought before they fall asleep. It even haunts their dreams, that one day, he or she will finally slip on that precious medal over their neck while thousands of people in a stadium roar their name.

That dream is what Daeloniel McDelon Bong, 23, wants to make true one day.

This energetic Sarawakian lad found himself in the spotlight after he emerged champion at the Pakistan Professional Boxing Championship in June. He notched an emphatic win in the 57kg category at Lalak Jan Stadium with a technical knock-out (TKO) over Sikandar Abbasi. His trajectory continued to soar upwards when he followed this up with a dominant performance which gave Sarawak its first gold in boxing at the 20th Malaysia Games (Sukma XX) at Putrajaya in September.

Widely known as ‘Kilat Boy’ (Lightning Boy), Daeloniel was little-known by many Sarawakians and other Malaysians until his debut in Pakistan.

But his name is no stranger to passionate local boxing fans. Despite his youth, he has already claimed a few local and international titles, including gold medals at the 2015 Borneo Zone Boxing Championships, 2016 Jakarta Professional Boxing Championships, 2018 Johor Mayor Cup and the Malaysia Cup National Boxing Championship 2019-2021.

Fuelling a fire

Born in Sri Aman, Daeloniel has taken boxing seriously since he was 15.

He wants to make it big in the world of boxing and he will fight to pursue that dream.

“The ecstasy of competing with another person at a level so deep and so unrecognisable means it plays out not in a pool but in one’s soul.

“I want that moment of triumph where I will stand on the pedestal as my Malaysia’s national anthem sounds across the stadium. If I can accomplish that, then it will be my moment of triumph,” he told DayakDaily in an interview recently.

Daeloniel McDelon Bong

The cost of the dream

When asked about this, Daeloniel gave a soft smile before stating rather matter-of-factly: ‘strict discipline, the hours that were put in, the opportunities that were forgone and the relationships that were paused.’

When asked if it is worth it, he replied: “Different people have different perspectives. For me, the payoff (or partially), self-achievement and the joy I see on so many faces especially my coach, family and friends make my sacrifice worthy.

“All the famous athletes struggled at some point to be what they are today. Some may be gifted with the talent, some are not, but it is a fact that the latter has to work harder.”

Daeloniel shared his childhood memories of growing up in the quaint small town of Betong, of how he juggled between studies at SMK St Augustine in the morning and training on the heavy bag as he prepared for competitions in the afternoon until evening.

At the age of 17 in November 2016, he had to sit for his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination, but just one month before that he also competed at the Jakarta Professional Boxing event in Indonesia.

Daeloniel attributes his success to one of his coaches who is also his mentor and idol, the 1998 Commonwealth Games gold medalist Sapok Biki.

“Whenever you see me in action in the ring, my movement, my thoughts, they came from Sapok’s work,” Delon said.

The 48-year-old former national boxer has stood by Daeloniel for about seven years and the latter calls Sapok a legend and his inspiration. — DayakDaily