Alain “The Panther” Ngalani is known to ONE Championship fans for his incredible striking repertoire, but the hulking Cameroonian star’s footwork and flexibility also give him the ability to turn heads away from the Circle.
The four-time kickboxing and Muay Thai World Champion is almost as likely to catch the eye with his smooth moves on the dancefloor as he is with his signature spinning kicks.
Ngalani grew up surrounded by dancing, and it has been one of his favorite pastimes ever since.
“It was a family thing first of all. My mum loved dancing. She said it’s a great way of releasing stress and staying happy,” he says.
“We’ve always been dancing. My mum taught my brother and I once a week, mainly salsa, and we grew up in that environment.”
Like most things “The Panther” puts his mind to, he found he had an aptitude for it. He tried his hand at breakdancing as a teenager and tested his skills in competitions.
“I’ve always been very competitive so I joined breakdancing competitions when I was around 13,” he recalls.
“Most of the competitions that I attended, I did well. It was very pleasing to see that, even at dancing, I came out on top!”
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Anybody that follows Ngalani on social media knows about his superhuman athleticism, especially for a heavyweight of his substantial stature.
He was big even as a teenager, but he never struggled with flexibility because he kept his muscles loose and body moving. Whether he was kicking high or getting into a groove, nothing seemed to be an issue.
“I’ve always been a big kid. When I was a teenager I was quite heavy and muscular already, but still very agile and very flexible,” the 44-year-old says.
“I’ve always been very agile and flexible with my stature, my weight, and my physical attributes. Even in dancing, I was very flexible. My hips could move very easily!”
Ngalani started martial arts aged with judo at the age of 6, and moved into striking arts such as savate, kickboxing, and Muay Thai when he got older.
He was also dancing while he collected numerous accolades in different martial arts, and he believes each endeavor complemented the other.
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“If any music starts playing, I could immediately feel the rhythm and give that movement for the rhythm immediately, and that’s important when you do martial arts,” says “The Panther.”
“You need to be in sync with yourself and be very flexible, physically and mentally. You need to be able to adapt — the way I’d adapt according to the music that’s playing, I have to adapt the same in martial arts.
“If your situation changes, your position changes, or your opponent changes, you need to adapt so it’s kind of relative — one complements the other!”
You will still find Ngalani cutting the rug at every opportunity, whether it’s in a dance-off against potential rivals in ONE or as a way to brighten up a tough day at the gym, and he is certain that his passion for dancing will never fade.
“I love everything about it. I have never stopped. I love it – it keeps me joyful!”