Ilias Ennahachi's life comes full circle

A warrior who has risen above life’s challenges as an immigrant, six-time Kickboxing World Champion Ilias Ennahachi is keen to score a massive victory in his ONE Championship debut.

Competing this Friday night against ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Champion Petchdam Petchyindee Academy at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD which takes place 16 August in Bangkok, Thailand, Ennahachi has come a very long way from his humble beginnings.

Looking back at his life in the Netherlands, Ennahachi details how tough his upbringing was, particularly in seeing his parents deal with the everyday struggles of the daily grind.

“My origin is Moroccan, but I was born in the Netherlands – I’m living in the Netherlands, and I grew up there, too. Everything started in the Netherlands, and I feel at home here,” he said.

“They (my parents) were excluded because they were not from here. They are immigrants, so they had to fight for their rights – my father sometimes literally had to fight with other people to be accepted here and to be one of them.”

The circumstances certainly toughened up a young Ennahachi, and family ultimately drew him to discover martial arts. Before he knew it, he was on a path that would change his life forever.

Ennahachi’s father and uncles practiced karate, while his cousins practiced kickboxing. The fact that his father joined him in training pushed him to become the best martial artist he could be.

“I had my first kickboxing lessons at the age of 11. My cousin told me that there was another boy of my age who was a good kickboxer and could beat me,” he shared.

“I always had the pride within me, so if people told me that I couldn’t do something, I always wanted to prove myself. I joined my cousin at the gym and started sparring. My trainer told me that I did pretty well, so I was sold. Two months later, I had my first fight.”

“Martial arts gives me a good feeling. The nerves, the respect you receive after the fight and train hard – it brings me to another dimension. I feel stronger and stronger,” he added.

At one point, though, he became irresponsible with his training because of the influence of his peers.

“I had to choose between friends or fighting because I started to neglect kickboxing to be with my friends and followed the wrong path, coming home late, doing bad things,” he revealed.

“It was a hard decision to choose between my friends and martial arts. I wanted to keep doing both things.”

Ilias’ father gave him a stern warning and reminded him of what he had already worked for and everything he could lose if he chose the wrong path.

“Martial arts gave me more stability. That, together with the things my father told me, opened my eyes. I chose to focus on martial arts 100 percent. Then everything started to go well, and I couldn’t stop,” he said.

“Martial arts ensured that I could leave bad things behind. It taught me to have respect, to be mature at a young age, and be happy with the things you have.”

With the right guidance, Ennahachi managed to get back on track and was able to go on an amazing 34-3 run. He won and defended the Enfusion World Title, traveled to Japan to win the Blade World Championship, and captured the WFL World Title in China. These accolades opened the doors to ONE Championship.

“When I signed a contract with ONE Championship it made me realize that all the hard work finally started to pay off,” he said.

“It opened doors so I can prove myself and to make my dreams come true.”

The Dutch-Moroccan kickboxer respects the kind of warrior Petchdam is but wants to use the match to showcase his skills. With the right motivation, he is confident that he can take on whatever challenges come his way.

“My biggest motivation not to quit fighting is my parents,” Ennahachi stated.

“I want to prove myself more and more to my family – to my wife, to my sisters and brothers, and my parents – that [the training and sacrifice] was for a good reason.”

“I worked hard for [this opportunity], and I have received something good in return. I will never give up on it,” he ended.