He ‘liked to fight a lot’ as a kid; now, this S’porean is a boxing coach & national champion

How Danial ‘Tyson’ Jalil went from troublemaker to pro boxer & champion

Like many mischievous lads, Danial “Tyson” Jalil’s childhood was marked by frequent scuffles that often landed him in trouble.

“Some kids like to study. Some kids like to fight. When I was young, I liked to fight a lot,” the 32-year-old Singaporean told MS News with a laugh.

Recognising the need to channel his combative tendencies, Danial embraced boxing in his late teens. He sharpened his skills on the amateur circuit before boldly stepping into the professional ring, where he has since clinched two titles.

evolve mma boxing

Danial after winning the Asian Boxing Federation (ABF) title in 2023
Image courtesy of Danial “Tyson” Jalil

Driven by the desire to provide for his family after the birth of his two children, Danial ventured into coaching, eventually becoming a boxing instructor at Evolve MMA.

Despite the inherent challenges of juggling fatherhood with a burgeoning boxing career, Danial is determined to fly the Singapore flag high on the international stage while also proving that pro boxing can be a viable career here.

Missed final uni exam to train for SEA Games

Despite dabbling in numerous sports like football, basketball, and even dance, Danial found his true passion in boxing.

The sport’s physicality and perceived “manliness” had him hooked from his first training session in 2011, when he was 17.

“I loved it so much, I just didn’t want to stop,” he enthused, noting how boxing served as an excellent stress relief tool.

evolve mma boxing

From the get-go, Danial aspired to turn pro and represent Singapore on the world stage.

But first, he had to make his mark in the realm of amateur boxing. In the span of a decade, he participated in over 70 matches, including the Asian Boxing Championship and the 2017 SEA Games.

evolve mma boxing

Danial and national boxing coach Syed Abdul Kadir
Image courtesy of Danial “Tyson” Jalil

Balancing training, a part-time job, and family responsibilities was no small feat.

Training dominated his schedule and forced him to make sacrifices. While studying for a part-time degree and prepping for the SEA Games, Danial had to miss a final exam to train.

“I had to sacrifice my degree and repeat that module, just so I could practise my boxing and get myself well-prepped for the SEA Games,” he recalled.

Danial scored a bronze medal at the SEA Games and eventually managed to graduate, learning the hard way what it takes to succeed in his chosen path.

What it takes to be a pro boxer

Although competitive, Danial realised that becoming the best required daily dedication, from enduring “boring” drills with his coach to maintaining peak fitness.

evolve mma boxing

As an amateur boxer, this meant participating in local and overseas matches, extensive sparring, attending overseas training camps, and countless hours of practice.

World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Council (WBC) World Champion Drian Francisco, Danial’s coach since 2021, recalled seeing potential in his pupil from their first meeting, albeit with room for improvement.

“He has talent, but I needed to change his mentality as a long-time amateur,” Drian shared. “Amateur boxing is more about scoring points, while pro boxing consists of long rounds, so the number one thing you need is stamina.”

To improve Danial’s stamina, Drian concentrated on building his strength, particularly in his arms.

Their hard work paid off, and Danial soon achieved his dream of turning pro after taking part in his first professional boxing match with KBX in 2019.

Dealing with pressure & balancing work as Evolve MMA instructor with boxing

Though Danial finds it challenging to be a fully committed pro boxer in Singapore, his coaching role and support from his mentor help him pursue his passion.

evolve mma boxing

Besides getting to shape the next generation of Singaporean boxers, he also has all the support he needs from Evolve MMA to go “all in” on his boxing career.

This is because the gym supplements his income and provides time off for competitions.

For example, when a fight is approaching, Evolve MMA adjusts his schedule, giving him fewer classes instead of a full day’s shift so that he has ample recovery time.

As the home of numerous world champions, the gym certainly understands the demands of training and the need for rest.

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Becoming the WBC Asia Continental Champion

On the flip side, representing Evolve MMA at boxing competitions adds pressure given the gym’s reputation.

In fact, Danial felt that winning his second title – the WBC Asia Continental Lightweight title – in May was a prouder achievement than his first, partly due to this very pressure.

With two other representatives winning their fights, Danial was the last to compete.

“If I didn’t win, we wouldn’t be undefeated,” he explained. “But losing would mean losing my shot at a second title and disappointing everyone who has always been supporting me.”

In spite of the emotional turmoil, Danial triumphed, claiming his second title and ensuring Evolve MMA’s continued undefeated streak.

evolve mma boxing

Image courtesy of Danial “Tyson” Jalil

Juggling his family, job & competing as a pro

On top of his day job as a gym instructor, Danial continues his training with Drian while participating in fights.

It can be tough, but thankfully, he finds strength in his wife and two young children.

Source: @danialj_lil on Instagram

“If my family is there to watch me fight, I always want to give it 100% or even 110%,” said Danial.

He credits them for sticking by him even when he wasn’t earning much from his early fights.

“Support is key because, without it, my morale would go down,” he said.

With his job, training, and family obligations, Danial often faces tough decisions about where to focus his energy.

One such dilemma arose when his son fell ill, forcing him to choose between training and caring for his child.

Source: @danialj_lil on Instagram

“I have to keep training to win, but family always comes first,” he declared. “So I told my coach I had to skip training because my family really needed me.”

Inspirations include Mike Tyson & Muhammad Ali

As his nickname suggests, Danial is a fan of boxing legend Mike Tyson.

The moniker also stuck after spectators watched his fights and remarked: “His moves remind me of Tyson.”

Danial Tyson Jalil boxer

Source: @danialj_lil on Instagram

Danial earned this comparison for good reason. As a boxing fan, he watched clips of Tyson and incorporated some of the latter’s moves into his early fights.

Despite being in the heavyweight class, Tyson is relatively short for the category — much like Danial, who is 165cm tall.

While Danial is leaner than the stocky Tyson, the similarities in their fighting style and stature make the nickname fitting.

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His second inspiration? Muhammad Ali, not only for his skills in the ring but also for his beliefs outside of it.

“For example, he refused to be drafted into the Vietnam War, even though he would have to go to prison if he didn’t,” Danial said. “He showed that you have to be determined in what you want in life.”

For Danial, dedication, commitment, and passion are essential in boxing and life. These are values that he hopes to instil in his students as well.

evolve mma boxer

“Without these three things, you can never move forward. For me, I dedicate my life to coaching and boxing. You must make these commitments on your own — and your heart has to like what you’re doing.”

This is why Danial wants to wait and see if his son shows interest in boxing before agreeing to train him.

“The key to getting someone, even your own kid, into boxing is that they have to love it first,” he explained. “If they don’t, there’s no point in forcing them.”

But if the boy is genuinely keen, then Danial would be more than happy to support and guide him.

Get a free boxing class with a world champion at Evolve MMA

Danial’s journey from troublemaker to disciplined national boxing champion truly highlights the transformative power of boxing. And now, he’s passionate about inspiring the next generation of fighters.

If you’re keen to take a swing at boxing in Singapore — or any other martial art like Muay Thai or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) — here is your chance to train with world champions like Drian and Danial.

Evolve MMA is offering complimentary one-on-one 30-minute introductory classes so you can glove up and give it a go before committing. These classes are open to everyone — including children — and cater to all skill levels and genders.

For more info and to sign up, visit the website here.

You can also follow Evolve MMA on Instagram and Facebook for all the latest news and updates.

Combat sports like boxing aren’t just about fitness — they’re also about mastering self-defence and discipline while building confidence that extends beyond the gym.

At the end of the day, it’s about becoming stronger in every sense of the word — physically, mentally, and beyond.

This post was brought to you in collaboration with Evolve MMA.

Featured image by MS News. Photography by Emmanuele Loza.

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