With the start of the World Games in Poland just a week away, Jordanian Kickboxer Ali Khalaf has his mind set on creating history for Jordan.
Khalaf will be competing in K-1, a Japanese combat format derived from Muay Thai and largely considered as one of the most difficult Kickboxing styles.
And after almost 18 years of competitive Kickboxing, the 27-year-old views the Games as a defining moment in his career.
“I am absolutely thrilled to have qualified for the World Games,” he said.
“The contest will not be an easy one though, especially considering the quality and level of the fighters competing from across the planet.”
The World Games hosts many of the sports and disciplines not included on the Olympic programme, so to qualify is the pinnacle of many an athlete’s career.
That’s how Khalaf feels after returning from an intensive training week in Egypt, accompanied by his Coach Issa Abu Nassar.
“It is crucial that I acquire these new skills to be prepared for all scenarios as I’m generally used to participating in ‘full contact’ martial arts – a totally different combat practice.
But I am confident that the outcome will be a satisfying one.
“I want to be the first Jordanian to win a medal in Kickboxing at the World Games.
It is very difficult, but it is certainly not impossible.”
His passion for Kickboxing started at the age of 10 and he has gone on to be one of the best fighters in Asia, a fact underlined when he won gold at the Asian Kickboxing Championship last year in the 71kg category.
It was a gruelling challenge to reach the World Games and he will be joined in Poland by Bara’ Al-Absi (Kickboxing), Haidar Rasheed and Lama Qubbaj (Ju-Jitsu) and Mohammad Salameh (Muay Thai).