Sentul Boy Agilan Is Malaysia's New Martial Arts Superstar!

  • 17 Jun 2019
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It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say Agilan Thani has shed sweat, tears and blood shed in mixed martial arts (MMA) to turn from "fat" to "fab". 

The 23-year-old has come a long way from his battle with weight issues to smashing opponents to a pulp inside the octagon. 

Agilan, whose fighting moniker is "The Alligator", defeated Japanese-South Korean mixed martial arts veteran Yoshihiro Akiyama at the One Championship Legendary Quest in Shanghai China, last Saturday. 

With the victory, Agilan ended his two-fight losing streak and emerged the Welterweight division champion. 

However, life has not always been easy going for the Sentul-born lad. 

Raised by a single father, Agilan's weight once tipped the scales at a whopping 145kgs. He used to be bullied by his peers, and called names like “Kung Fu Panda” and “fat boy”.

His interest in martial arts was sparked after watching a Chinese martial arts flick called Sha Po Lang, starring Donnie Yen.

Soon after, he enrolled for Jiujitsu lessons in Petaling Jaya and managed to lose 10kg in three months. The huge weight loss motivated him even further and he got a job as a cleaner at the Monarchy MMA gynasium in Kuala Lumpur, where he was paid RM1,000 in salary and became eligible to attend all the classes there for free. 

Agilan was just 18 then. 

Among the disciplines he picked up were Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiujitsu, and boxing. He also adopted healthy diet habits and in just six months, managed to reduce his weight from 129kg to 93kg. 

His passion for martial arts also reportedly made him move from his Sentul home into the gym he worked at. For a year, he slept on the gym mat before eventually finding a place to rent.

With his recent win over 43-year-old Akiyama, Agilan's now holds a 10-3 win loss record. 

A loving son

Agilan's journey is documented in "The Boy from Sentul" video by One Championship, which also features an interview with the his father, Thanigasalam. 

In the video, Thanigasalam narrates how he had to raise Agilan on his own when his wife left them when Agilan was just a year old. For that, Agilan has immense respect for his father. 

According to Agilan, his father, who had been on his side through thick and thin, was initially worried when he expressed intention to get involved in MMA. 

Agilan's victory in his first match convinced Thanigasalam to support his son's choice of career. 

However, it was not smooth sailing all the way for the martial artist. 

Last year, he suffered two consecutive defeats to Swedish Zebaztian Kadestam and Kyrgyz Kiamrian Abbasov, which left him feeling like a failure. 

That, compounded with a surgery to fix a long-term lower back injury soon after his second defeat, drove him to depression and mull throwing in the towel. 

He reflected on the matter for some time and decided to fight on, come what may. 

Thanks to his perseverance, Agilan has once again put Malaysia on the world map, by defeating a seasoned industry veteran. 

This shows that the "boy from Sentul" has not only arrived, but is here to stay. 

Source: The Malay Mail,, The Star