Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The People's Champ: Rami Ibrahim

Come November 19th Las Vegas will be graced with the presence of Rami Ibrahim. The Philadelphia based fighter will be fighting against Coke Chunhawat at Lion Fight Promotions "Battle in the Desert 4" for the WBC Muay Thai lightweight national title. Ibrahim will be coming in looking to pass the difficult challenge that is the Coke taste test; however, a challenge is something that Rami Ibrahim doesn't step away from.

Ibrahim's path to Muay Thai began in 1992 when he started training in Karate. The problem was that there is no full contact in point Karate tournaments, which meant he was continuously getting disqualified. In 1994 his coach suggested he try Muay Thai instead, since it was a full contact sport and in the same year he would have his first fight. It wasn't his dream to be a professional Muay Thai fighter, but after his first fight at the age of 12 he felt a feeling he had never felt before. It was with this that his journey began. By the time Ibrahim was 18 he was representing America as the WKA U.S. champion and to him being a young Palestinian American, holding that title was a huge achievement.

"By the time I was 18, in 2000, I was representing America as the WKA United States Muay Thai champion. Being a young Palestinian American holding that title, I felt as if this was a great accomplishment," said Ibrahim. "With great power comes great responsibility. So here I am now, doing my best to be a good role model with the best image of a young Palestinian American. I never had any intentions of any of this, but God was and is still good to me."

Despite the challenge that Coke Chunhawat will present to him on November 19th, nothing compares to the challenges in life. Ibrahim doesn't only look to be a Muay Thai champion he looks to be a champion in life. Training for his upcoming fight with Coke is easy compared to preparing for the reality everyday life brings. Ibrahim jokes that he is preparing for Coke by drinking Pepsi and remains really light-hearted when discussing the upcoming bout. Many might see the upcoming fight with Coke as the toughest challenge of his career, but Ibrahim is used to the skepticism.

"As to a lot of people thinking Coke is going to be one of the toughest tests of my career, I want to tell them to stop thinking too much." said Ibrahim. "It's pointless because we all know what happened when they had the taste test."

Ibrahim knows Coke is a dangerous fighter, but the biggest challenges for him are outside the ring. In the ring there is a solution to every problem he could face. Being Palestinian-American is something Ibrahim is proud of, something he doesn't try to hide despite being told on countless occasions by family and friends not to make that public. Spectators have cursed him and made racial remarks that are not only ignorant, but incorrect.

"In my second fight against Shennon Maceo, the room filled with Tiger Schulmans (TSK) fans, they all started yelling at me go back to Iraq. I'm not even from Iraq. That just shows how racist people are, imagine if what they would of done if they knew I was Palestinian" said Ibrahim.

Ibrahim doesn't want to run or hide from who he is -- he wants to proudly wave his flag and show people that there is good in everyone. The issues in Palestine are important to Ibrahim, not because he is Palestinian but because he does not agree with what is being done to the people of Palestine. He wants to use his voice to speak up for those that might not have a voice.

"People are so quick to just run away from issues when it's not effecting them. To those people and everyone else who doesn't care about what's being done to the Palestinian people, because it doesn't effect them, be careful, one day it might be you in those shoes and you'll be needing that help the Palestinians needed for over 60 years." said Ibrahim. "To those silent people: when European colonizers came after the Native Americans, you remained silent. You weren’t a Native American. When the southerners came after slaves, you remained silent. You weren’t a slave. When Israel came after the Palestinians, you remained silent. You weren’t a Palestinian. When they came for you, there was no one left 2 speak out. Fighting in the ring defending my championship belts means nothing to me, because I'm a fighter in life fighting to defend humanity & that means everything to me."

Yes, the upcoming fight with Coke Chunhawat might be the biggest fight of his career, but in the big picture of Rami Ibrahim it is simply a small pixel. Ibrahim loves Muay Thai and it has become an integral part of his life. He makes his living running Sitan Gym in Philadelphia. That said, for him it is not about being remembered as the greatest champion of all time, but when it is all said and done, for Rami Ibrahim it is about being able to speak for human rights. When his fight career is over he want's people to simply remember he was for the people.

"When my fighting career is over, one thing I would like people to say when they think of me is how I was for the people. Anyone that knows me will tell you that I speak the truth. I don't favor any group or race, because every tree has a bad apple." said Ibrahim. "Therefore, I favor all children of Adam. That is why I'm always sharing my experience and insight on all issues with everyone, to help better mankind. When I get better, and you get better, then this whole world will get better, God willing. Rami Ibrahim is for the people!"

Rami Ibrahim will step into the ring on November 19th and lay it all on the line as he tries to capture the WBC Muay Thai national title from Coke Chunhawat at Lion Fight Promotions "Battle in the Desert 4"; just as everyday Rami Ibrahim wakes up, he is ready to take on the world. He doesn't take it on simply for his own personal gain, as it has been mentioned before, its not about him: it's about the people. He is "The People's Champ", he is Rami Ibrahim.
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