Jihin “Shadow Cat” Radzuan has quickly emerged as one of the top female mixed martial artists in Asia.
The Malaysian, who is a Wushu World Champion, has four wins in ONE Championship and is on the verge of a ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title shot.
However, there is one thing that means more to “Shadow Cat” than her own personal glory.
By competing in the world’s largest martial arts organization, the 21-year-old represents her country and her people with pride.
Every time the Johor Bahru native walks to the Circle – as she will do in Kuala Lumpur at ONE: MARK OF GREATNESS on Friday, 6 December – she clutches the Jalur Gemilang flag tightly and experiences a surge of emotion when she is introduced by announcer Dominic Lau.
“I feel weak every time I hear the announcer say that I’m representing Malaysia. I felt the same in all my fights in ONE,” she confesses ahead of her battle against undefeated Filipina Denice “The Menace Fairtex” Zamboanga.
Although Jihin experiences some initial nervousness and trepidation, she is quickly re-energized by the roar of the local crowd.
The first time that happened was during her promotional debut back in March 2018. She made her grand premiere in The Home Of Martial Arts against Puja “The Cyclone” Tomar, one of India’s best women’s mixed martial artists.
“When I walked to the Circle, I was so nervous. I did not know what to do, and I never expected to be fighting in an organization as big as ONE,” the Malaysian shares.
“It was a new thing for me. It was my first time performing worldwide. [The fans] didn’t know me back then, but they seemed so happy to have a local fighter, who’s a girl, competing.”
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Jihin did exceptionally well, as she submitted Tomar via triangle choke halfway into round two.
It was only her second professional match-up, but that victory meant the world to her as it was her first chance to raise the Malaysian flag on the global stage.
“I’ve always wanted to achieve something big in life. I think it’s the same with other kids, too,” she says.
“As a teenager, that [dream] stopped for a while. But when I started training, I realized that I can do so much more than just fighting in mixed martial arts.”
The opportunity to represent her nation on the global stage, especially at such a young age, is one that cuts her deeply on an emotional level.
Once her walkout music hits and she heads to the Circle, however, “Shadow Cat” conceals those feelings.
“The last few appearances, I had to fight back my tears hard because very few people get the chance to do what I’m doing at 21 years old,” she explains.
“Sometimes, people assume that since I’m a fighter, I’m strong. But no, I do get sensitive at times during training or when I hold my country’s flag.
“However, when the cage door closes, I switch to fight mode because I do not want to give my opponent a chance to catch my feelings.”
Representing Malaysia, just like some of the country’s top athletes outside of the sport, is now one of the main reasons why Jihin continues to exhibit her skills in The Home Of Martial Arts.
In fact, whenever the Johor Bahru resident has to travel for an upcoming bout, she always packs two things – those cute cat earphones and the national flag.
“I think it’s a must [to carry the flag],” she offers. “Plus, I’d say it’s a tradition, as most fighters do the same. They know what it means to carry their country’s flag on their shoulders.”
Jihin knows the tremendous opportunity she has been given, and she is capitalizing on it.
The Malaysian is a few victories away from getting a crack at the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title and becoming her country’s first-ever mixed martial arts World Champion.
Also, “Shadow Cat” is aware that she is in a position of great influence, as she can inspire her compatriots to follow their dreams and achieve their goals.
The star has a big platform, and she refuses to let it go to waste.
“When I fight, of course, I want to win,” she admits.
“My dream to become Malaysia’s first World Champion still exists, but I want to use this opportunity to let every Malaysian know that they can become like me, too.
“I started from nowhere and here I am today, chasing my dream in ONE Championship. I’m ready to do the same against Denice Zamboanga at ONE: MARK OF GREATNESS. Watch me do it.”