Earning his stripes in the ring
Article from the Sun daily by Marion Fernando (posted on 02 April 2019)
WEARING his ring name loud and proud in every fight, Muay Thai has been Mohammed ‘Jordan Boy’ Mahmoud’s centre of gravity ever since he took up the combative martial art five years ago.
The name comes as a homage to the 23-year-old’s mixed parentage, whose father is from Jordan. He first garnered buzz when he emerged victorious in his debut fight against Stergios Mikkos from Greece in One: Destiny of Champions.
The One Super Series Muay Thai Bantamweight competition is part of ONE Championship, a global martial arts organisation that features diverse forms of Asian self-defence, including Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), kickboxing, and karate.
While he is a ONE Championship athlete now, Muay Thai was still a practice foreign to the young fighter, despite leading an active lifestyle where he played football and participated in athletics.
The sport’s tough appeal might have posed a minor obstacle with his parental figure, but consistent training at Sampuri Ampang Muay Thai Gym eventually revealed his dedication and passion for Muay Thai.
How did you get into Muay Thai?
I actually just wanted to try it out because I was interested. I trained for about six months, and my trainer asked if I wanted to fight, and I said okay, maybe can. But when I asked my dad, he didn’t allow me, so I convinced my trainer to talk to him.
They [spoke], and told me if I lose the competition, then no more Muay Thai at all. And if I win, he will support me. I said okay, if it’s going to be like that. I started to train hard, and alhamdulillah, I won my first game with a KO. That was a semi-pro game back in 2015 or 14’.
How did you decide to make it a career?
I don’t know, Muay Thai is almost like a drug. It’s addictive. We train every day, and when there’s no training, we would go watch a fight. You feel restless. And you feel like you want to fight too. It’s like an addiction. You want to fight [because] it is an interest.
How do you stay motivated to train every day?
I train three times a day for Muay Thai. Morning, afternoon, and night. In the morning, I usually go for a 10km jog, then cardio. In the afternoon, it’s full-on Muay Thai training for about three to four hours. At night, I do my own training. Sometimes I go swimming, and I go to the gym.
Sometimes I do feel lazy when I have to wake up and go to the gym. But it’s my job. I tell myself, if I don’t train, I cannot fight. So I just wake up, shower, and start my training. I do have my lazy days. I’ll tell my coach that I am crazy lazy today. Then he will tell me it’s okay, we’ll just [do light] training. But he lies. He will say it is light training, but once I reach the gym, he makes me train ‘kaw kaw’ [laughs]. He pushes me [to do] better.
Who would be your dream fight to go against?
Nong-O, who is considered one of the best pound for pound Muay Thai fighters in the world. He’s a technical fighter like me. I like all his fights. I want to fight him because I respect him, and I want to learn new things from him. We’re [in] the same weight category.
What is the misconception that people tend to associate with Muay Thai?
Many of my friends said that Muay Thai is dangerous. I’ll tell them, no, there’s no danger. Then they’ll say, the training looks like it is people hitting each other. That’s standard. You want to fight and earn money that way, right. So there is no problem. If you want, you can always work in an office.
I used to say Muay Thai was dangerous too. But when you try it, it’s a sport. It’s just a normal combat sport.
What is usually the last thing on your mind when you’re in the ring before a fight?
I actually get nervous, but I’ll tell myself I need to win the fight and build my name. I want to change my life. I might not look nervous on the surface, but underneath I feel a lot of nerves.
What is one thing you think everybody should try once in their lives?
Try to fight. [laughs] Try to fight in Muay Thai one time. It’s nice. I can’t really describe it. You must try it yourself to know how it feels. It’s mostly like that. Many people don’t know [how it feels] to fight in Muay Thai. When they do try, they want to continue fighting.