The German knockout artist earned his spot in the tournament with a sensational stoppage in his ONE Championship debut, and as one of the youngest competitors in the bracket, he believes he has the fire and energy to win it all.
His campaign will begin at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON on Friday, 17 May, when he faces Dzhabar “Genghis Khan” Askerov in the Singapore Indoor Stadium for a place in the semifinals among the competition’s top striking superstars.
Armed with experience from a lifetime of training and competing, it would take a brave fan to bet against the K-1 World MAX Champion from making waves on the global stage for martial arts.
Ahead of the kickoff of the most talent-stacked tournament in martial arts, discover how the German has become one of the world’s most dangerous competitors in the ring.
A Content Childhood
Watch out for the HEAVY hands of Enriko "The Hurricane" Kehl in the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix on 17 May! Singapore | 17 May | 7:00PM | Watch on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onedragon19
Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Kehl was born in Wetzlar, Germany, where he lived with his parents and older brother and sister. It was a quiet place which gave the youngster sturdy foundations.
“I grew up in quite a small place, not far from Frankfurt City,” he says.
“In my city, there was not much trouble like the big cities, and I had a lot of free time and fresh air – it was good. I spent a lot of time outside, playing football or basketball.
“I was very good in school – I never left it by the side even when I trained in martial arts. I always thought about my future. Some people only focus on today and don’t think about tomorrow. I’m not like this.”
Kehl’s father owned his own car-recovery business and, though he was never a sportsman himself, he was keen to promote it in his children.
That meant his youngest son’s martial arts journey began at the age of 6.
“My father never did sports or martial arts, but he wanted us to train so we weren’t on the streets drinking, taking drugs, or anything like that,” he explains.
Brothers In Arms
View this post on Instagram
The perfect sunday … Sparring with my brother @juri_the_brain_kehl .. 2 weeks to go for our fights and the @mixfightchampionship in Frankfurt !!! . . . . @topten_martial_arts @fitness_megastore . #teamkehl #topten #kickboxing #k1 #muaythai #boxing #focus #brothers #ffm #frankfurt #training #champions #germany #mixfight #weekendvibes #family #beastmode #instapic #mood
Kehl went into martial arts classes with his brother Juri, and they trained alongside each other in different disciplines as they grew up.
“We started with kung fu, then after a few years my father said that he did not think it was so good, so we moved to kickboxing and Muay Thai,” recalls “The Hurricane.”
“When I was around 10 years old, I started to train in Muay Thai. I always trained together with my brother, and it was a good thing. He was my best friend, my best training partner, and my inspiration.”
Juri began his competitive career first, and this motivated Enriko to do the same. He stepped into the ring aged 12, and both brothers earned a spot on the German national team to compete in the IFMA amateur championships.
“We traveled everywhere together to compete, I always looked up to him, and he gave me the power to train,” the 27-year-old says.
However, his career almost ended before it ever started at the age of 14.
“The Hurricane” thought about giving up on martial arts to pursue another sport, but his father persuaded him otherwise, and he has never looked back since.
“I told my father I didn’t want to train anymore as I wanted to go and play football,” says Kehl.
“He told me I had to train, and I’m here now because my father told me not to stop the sport, so I am very thankful for it.”
A Tough Break
Multiple-time World Champion Enriko "The Hurricane" Kehl is ready to make a STATEMENT in the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix!Singapore | 17 May | 7:00PM | Watch on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onedragon19
Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, April 13, 2019
One of “The Hurricane’s” most testing moments in martial arts came when his brother was hospitalized after he suffered an injury in a bout.
“It was about 2009 when my brother broke his jaw, and it made me think that this can be really dangerous,” Kehl recalls.
“I saw him in the hospital and I thought, ‘Why do I do this [sport]?’
It was a make-or-break moment for the burgeoning German striker, but instead of finding a reason to hang up his gloves, he resolved to move ahead and ensure he represented the family name with honor.
As he went forward into the biggest opportunity of his career at that point, he became more motivated than ever to win on his sibling’s behalf.
“It was the first big tournament outside of Germany that I had competed in – the King’s Cup in Thailand. It was the biggest in the world at that time,” says Kehl.
“Normally my brother and I would fight in the tournaments together, so I decided I would train harder and get the win for my brother. It was a hard thing, but also an inspiration for me to win the tournament for both of us.”
Rising To The World Level
Eight of the world's greatest strikers collide in the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix on 17 May! Petrosyan vs. Petchmorakot Yodsanklai vs. Sana Souwer vs. Smokin' Jo Kehl vs. AskerovSingapore | 17 May | 7:00PM | Watch on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onedragon19
Posted by ONE Championship on Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Kehl had 40 amateur bouts and was a two-time silver medalist in the prestigious IFMA Muay Thai World Championships before he switched the professional ranks.
He worked hard to earn a reputation as one of Germany’s best ever strikers, which was cemented in 2014 when he became the K-1 World MAX Champion.
“The K-1 World MAX tournament win in 2014 was definitely the biggest victory of my career,” he states.
“When I was young, my brother always watched the K-1 World MAX final, and I dreamed about fighting in it. I didn’t ever expect to fight against Buakaw [Banchamek, Muay Thai and kickboxing World Champion] and get a win against him.
“It was a dream come true, and the greatest moment of my career – until now.”
Following his spectacular debut in The Home Of Martial Arts, Kehl has the chance to showcase his prowess against an elite line-up of striking superstars, including legends like Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex, Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan, and Andy “Souwer Power” Souwer.
First, he will take on an old rival in Askerov in the quarterfinal round on 17 May.
“The Hurricane” has faced the Russian twice already and came up short earlier in his career, but now he believes he has more experience, he is in his prime, and he is ready to gain redemption and progress through the stacked World Grand Prix bracket.
“I don’t care who I face because only the top guys are in this tournament, and if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best,” says Kehl.
“I am happy with a rematch with Dzhabar. I feel very strong. These guys are getting older, and I am in my prime, so this is good for me.”
Singapore | 17 May | 7:00PM | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onedragon19