No one has inspired Ilias “Tweety” Ennahachi in his life and career like his father.
The ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Champion – who will defend his belt against “Metal Storm ” Wang Wenfeng at ONE: AGE OF DRAGONS – followed in his dad’s footsteps from an early age by beginning a love affair with martial arts and maintaining an unwavering work ethic.
Though he dreamed of being like the World Champion athletes he used to watch and admire, he never looked up to anyone more than the man who put him on the path to greatness.
The 23-year-old’s admiration for his father goes back to before he was born.
Ennahachi Sr. spent most of his childhood in Morocco, but he left the country for the Netherlands as a 13-year-old thanks to his own dad’s desire to provide a better life for his children.
“My grandfather was a farmer and lived in the mountains. They lived in a house without water, gas, and light, so practically nothing except for some food,” Ennahachi explains.
“My grandfather worked really hard so he could bring his children to Holland and they could have a better future there. In my eyes, he succeeded.”
As an immigrant to his new country, Enahachi’s dad had to cope with prejudice when he first arrived, but he eventually settled and raised a family with his wife.
His children – Ilias, his brother, and his sister – did not have to endure the same struggles and had a happy childhood in Utrecht.
“Tweety” says they never wanted for support or love, and they were always encouraged to work hard, especially when it came to martial arts.
His dad practiced kickboxing in his spare time, and he did everything he could to pass his passion onto his son. He took him with him to training, bought his gear, paid his gym fees, and encouraged him to focus on practice above everything else.
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He even trained alongside him, and that encouraged the SB Gym representative even more than his World Champion heroes.
“In the early days, I used to watch videos of Buakaw [Banchamek] quite often. His videos were a great inspiration to me, but the man that I admired the most is my father,” he says.
“He always joined me in training, and he still does. That gives me the energy and power to train harder and do my best even more.”
Ennahachi’s gratitude and the desire to give back after so many years of support from his parents is now the driving force in his life.
As he struggles through the most grueling practice sessions in the gym or is tested by the stiffest opposition in the Circle, he is motivated to persevere through the toughest challenges by his love for them.
The glory of victory and World Titles on the biggest stage are nice, but more than anything, he chases success so he can repay his biggest fans for nurturing him into the elite athlete he is today.
“Everything I do, I do it for my family – working hard, training hard and all that is to come, I do for them too,” he says.
“I’ll reward them for all the support they gave me.
“Always respect your family, they’re your biggest support in life.”
Beijing | 16 November | AGE OF DRAGONS | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast