On Saturday, 23 June in Macau, Moroccan-Dutch kickboxing ace Tarik Khbabez will look to unleash his special brand of striking at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER.
The 26-year-old arrives in ONE Super Series having already captured a host of significant titles in the sport of kickboxing.
He will look to showcase his striking talent against a name familiar to ONE Championship fans – four-time Muay Thai and kickboxing heavyweight world champion Alain ”The Panther” Ngalani – in a kickboxing bout.
Ngalani is renowned in ONE for his knockout power, but Khbabez brings a packed record of finishes to the organization. His pro kickboxing record reads 42-5-1, with 26 of his wins coming via knockout.
Born in Morocco but brought up in The Hague, Netherlands, from the age of 6, Khbabez’s martial arts journey started in his teens when he opted to quit playing soccer and training recreational boxing to pursue his main passion – kickboxing.
“I played soccer and boxed until I was 14 years old, but after that, I stopped and focused on kickboxing,” he explains.
“For me, kickboxing was everything. It kept me focused and taught me discipline.”
The Netherlands – an internationally-renowned hotbed of kickboxing – was the perfect place for him to learn the art. After leaving school, he focused all his efforts on becoming a successful professional.
“When I was 16, I started training more and more,” he says.
“After I won my first bout, I knew for sure I could make this a career.”
Everything was on the up, as Khbabez began to rack up victories and become a real force as a heavyweight, but a serious knee injury threatened to end his career before he had the chance to reach his full potential.
It put him on the shelf for 18 months, but thanks to a strong support network, he was able to return to action better than ever.
“Sometimes, I thought it was over, but I never stopped believing in myself. I knew I was coming back stronger and harder than ever,” he says.
“Everybody who loves me kept me motivated. It was a hard time – not only physically, but also mentally. But I survived, like every other obstacle in life.”
During his time out injured, Khbabez rewatched his old bouts to keep his mind sharp, and find elements of his game he could improve.
Once he was fully fit, he used that knowledge to become an even better kickboxer, and returned to action in the best shape of his life.
He won back-to-back SUPERKOMBAT Heavyweight World Grand Prix Tournament Championships and received the call to be a part of the ONE Super Series.
Now, on the biggest stage of his career, Khbabez plans on claiming a high-profile scalp on his debut and stamping his authority on the heavyweight division in the process.
His new goal is clear – win the ONE Super Series Heavyweight World Title.
“I have always been successful, because everything I do is with 100 percent effort, and I never stop until I succeed,” he says.
“I will knock him out and win the fight. It will take me one step closer to becoming the ONE Super Series World Champion.”