Life is an unpredictable journey. We make our way through it with a list of plans at the back of our heads, only to realize that sometimes, it is the circumstances and environments of which we are a part that determine what our next step is. Or as the saying goes – sometimes, life catches up with us.
And as time passes, we mature, and our focus turns to those around us, those we love and hold dear to us. We start living for them, so that we can make life better for them. But in the process, we make the crucial mistake of forgetting that taking care of ourselves from time to time is equally as important.
For many, this particular realization comes much later in life. And by the time they do realize this, it is already too late – or at least, that’s what many of them choose to believe. This was not the case for 61-year old Richard Wee, who with an unfaltering decision to change his life with the power of martial arts, transformed into an impeccable source of inspiration.
Life Before Martial Arts
Before retiring, Wee was the Managing Director of Havi Global Solutions (HGS) for the Asia Pacific Middle East and Africa (APMEA) region, covering a wide geography of over 30 countries. His busy daily routine included business meetings, travelling, and entertainment all over the region. This hectic schedule left him with little to no time for exercise.
Towards his retirement, Wee decided to start working out and lose the weight in order to get fit and healthy. Wee turned to the usual gym routines of jogging on the treadmill, cycling, and weightlifting; a routine that he claims, “was not doing anything about the growing waistline.”
Wee knew that he needed to find something different, something much more effective. And unbeknownst to him, it was his youngest daughter, Randee that would help him discover what he had been looking for all along – martial arts.
However, Wee only decided to give this new opportunity a chance out of concern for his daughter’s safety. “I was concerned about the “unruly perceptions” of fighters and instructors at martial arts schools,” Wee recalls.
The First Step Towards Change
But after stepping through the doors at Evolve MMA, Wee would find his initial perceptions to be wrong. “I found that it was a very friendly environment, the instructors were very humble despite being World Champions,” Wee recalls. “There were no signs of arrogance or overconfidence; everyone was very supportive of one another, and I’ve never looked back since then.”
And after joining Evolve MMA, Wee would experience an incredible change in his health and lifestyle. Initially, he lost 25 kilos and 7 inches off his waist in his first 2 years at Evolve MMA. Over the next several years, he eventually shed a total of 40 kilos as he lost body fat and gained more muscle. “My pants size dropped from around 41.5 to 32 now,” says Wee, “My family members and ex colleagues were surprised at my new self.”
But there’s much more to just the weight loss. “Losing weight is great, but it can’t beat the feeling of being fit and healthy. I was previously on long-term medication to control my cholesterol levels, body fat and blood pressure,” Wee claims. “Since coming to Evolve, my doctor has taken me off medication, I feel that I have accomplished something for my family, and for myself. Today, he trains both Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu almost daily. In fact, he has been awarded the rank of purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Level 5 in Muay Thai.
Paying It Forward
Now, with the help of martial arts, Wee is giving back to society what he has received. He is heavily involved in the Evolve Outreach Program, which he feels is an opportunity to bless others as he himself has been blessed. “I have been blessed throughout my life. Now I need to reach and help children and teenagers who need guidance and friendship,” Wee says, “I feel humbled by their progress and by the way they have changed. I am rejuvenated by them; it helps me feel complete especially in my golden years.”
Since 2010, the Evolve Community Outreach Program has helped the less fortunate and underprivileged, which includes orphanages, youth homes, and various charities. The program works as a platform for the Evolve Family to give back those who need help.
And Wee has played a key role in expanding the program’s reach, which now includes organizations like Singapore Boys’ Town, Singapore Children’s Society, Children’s Cancer Foundation, Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS), and Beyond Social Services.
Wee looks to further expand the number of organizations Evolve MMA reaches out to with its program in order to reach out to more children and youths. And his plans for the program go beyond just reaching out to those in Singapore. “I would like to help instructors create outreach programs back in their hometown in Thailand, Brazil and others,” says Wee.
However, Wee believes the success of the program is not just in its reach, but also the values he instills in those who have benefitted from the program. “I measure the success of the Evolve Outreach Program by these youths committing their time to voluntary work as a way to pay it forward to the next generation of needy children and youths,” says Wee.
An Impeccable Source of Inspiration
Back at Evolve MMA, Wee is known affectionately by the Evolve Family as “Papa” Rich, a nickname given to him as the father figure to everyone in the Evolve Family – students, instructors, fighters, World Champions, and staff. Wee’s transformation is already an incredible source of inspiration for all those around him, but he continues to add to this inspiration by helping the staff, students, and instructors alike at Evolve not just in martial arts, but life as well.
When asked what the most rewarding aspect of being part of the Evolve Family is, Wee says that it is the very same aspect that attracted him to join Evolve in the first place. “We are a family. We help and look after one another.”
The mission of Evolve MMA is simple: to unleash greatness in everyone and to change the world for the better. And in the same way martial arts has unleashed the greatness in Wee, he has done the same for countless others as well.
Wee is truly an inspiration to us all and a father figure to all at Evolve MMA; from the students, to the instructors. There is no doubt that “Papa” Rich will continue to inspire those around him to strive for excellence and to develop a burden for others; to help those in need and to make the world a better place.