‘He Made Me A Different Person’ – The Coach That Turned Life Around For A Troubled Tayfun Ozcan
Tayfun Ozcan didn’t grow up with a positive male role model in the home, but fortunately, he had someone else to fill the void.
The Dutch-Turkish kickboxing star – who returns to action against Superbon Singha Mawynn at ONE Fight Night 11: Eersel vs. Menshikov on Prime Video on June 9 – found an inspirational mentor in Mekki Ben-Azzouz when he first walked through the doors of Siam Gym in his native Netherlands.
The kickboxing coach quickly discovered that his young charge was dealing with serious issues at home and that his father suffered from problems with addiction.
As a result, Ben-Azzouz took the young striker under his wing. Now 18 years later, he’ll be in “Turbine’s” corner for this massive featherweight showdown with #1-ranked Superbon at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
Ozcan told ONEFC.com:
“[Ben-Azzouz] was immediately like a father figure to me. When I stepped into his gym, he gave me the time I never had from everyone else. So he was my role model, and he was like my dad figure. He helped me a lot.
“He saw that I had very much talent and I trained really hard. And he knew my situation at home. So all those things came together and he just provided for me.”
It didn’t matter that Ozcan didn’t have money to pay for his gym fees or equipment. Ben-Azzouz believed the skilled youngster could go far in the sport – and he helped him with everything that was necessary to get there.
That faith has certainly been repaid, as “Turbine” is now the #5-ranked contender in the greatest kickboxing division on the planet.
And for his part, Ozcan says his coach has been the biggest driving force behind that success:
“I became what I am today because he made me mentally strong and physically strong, and also, he made me a different person. He [still] stands in my corner against Superbon. I broke through in my career because of him.
“Of course, I can tell him [how much he has done for me]. But I show him what it meant to me with how I am towards him.
“You can say a lot of things, but he knows to this day he can still depend on me. That’s a bond you can’t break.”
Ozcan Reveals Most Important Lesson From His Longtime Coach
For almost two decades, coach Mekki Ben-Azzouz has gone above and beyond to help Tayfun Ozcan – but his best piece of advice was apparently not about kickboxing.
As his student did not have the proper guidance at home, Ben-Azzouz also strived to help the teenager become a good person outside of the ring.
And while the most notable lesson is something that could have pushed some people away, Ozcan now believes it’s been a positive for his growth as a man.
The 31-year-old explained:
“[Coach] told me to always be straight to the point. Don’t go around things. If you feel something, tell it. Don’t keep it in.
“People these days are different. There are a lot of fake people. You should never be fake. Always be straight to the point and say what’s on your mind. Maybe some people will like you, maybe some people won’t, but you will immediately know where you are with them. So that was the biggest advice he gave me.”
Now one of the biggest names in kickboxing, Ozcan has found the advice even more useful as his popularity continues to grow.
As a result, he stands with the right people around him – all due to Ben-Azzouz’s wise words.
“If you are getting a lot of success, you get a lot of fake people around you. If you can be straight, then you see immediately. So this advice looks good now.”