Ginebra Shooting Guard Mark Caguioa is relishing the prospect of facing Rain or Shine in Dubai on Friday.
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Ten athletes from all over the world will compete for the 2015 Invictus Award by Paco Rabanne, aiming to win Dhs 206,000 (€50,000) for their respective sporting charity projects.
This year sees the first ever Invictus Award competitor from the Middle East: Ahmed, a 24-year-old kickboxer from Lebanon.
Beirut-born Ahmed will be flying the flag for the region, and here he explains how kickboxing has helped shape his life.
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How did you start kickboxing?
When I was young, my classmates were always beating me up. With no one there to protect me, I started kickboxing in order to
help me defend myself.
Kickboxing changed my life, and enabled me to feel safe and comfortable in my everyday life, instead of living in fear of others. From the moment I started kickboxing, people knew that I was not an easy target anymore, and they could not attack me as they used to do.
Has it changed your personality?
It has changed my personality, a lot! It didn't make me a show off, it just made me confident in myself and my abilities. Every time I am in the ring, I feel confident, but I would never say before a fight that I will win for sure. All I want is for my friends and family to believe in me.
What are the qualities of a good kickboxer?
Kick boxing is a hard sport that requires power, strength, and lots of practice. I'd say that the most important thing is to have a very strong mindset.
How often do you train?
My regular training rhythm is twice a day, each session lasting for two hours. I wake up every morning and train; it doesn't matter if I am tired or in pain, I just need to reach my goal, and train as hard as possible. I am addicted to training!
What personal achievement are you most proud of?
I am a three-time world champion and I'm so proud of this!
What is your objective?
The next step for me is to become a great MMA fighter. MMA stands for mixed martial arts, and it brings together three disciplines: kickboxing, wrestling and jujitsu. I am currently practicing these other two martial arts, in addition to kickboxing.
How would you feel if you lost the Award?
As Invictus doesn't depend on my skills, but on votes, I wouldn't feel so bad. If I lose because of the votes, I wouldn't feel as sad as if I lose a fight that relies only on my abilities to be the best.
“A winner is someone that has set priorities in his life, and has put sweat, time and tears into what he does… ”
And how would you feel if you won?
Of course I will be thrilled, because it's a real chance to be here. Also, because a lot of my friends wear Invictus, so
that will be kind of funny!
Why did you agree to participate in the Invictus Award?
Because it gathers sports that require stamina and it's a good thing for me to challenge myself on lots of different levels.
I see the Invictus Award experience as an opportunity to meet new people, have fun and make the most out of all the challenges. I feel like it's a privilege to have been selected.
What does it take to be a winner?
A winner is someone that has set priorities in his life, and has put sweat, time and tears into what he does.
For you, is the Invictus Award a game?
It's not just a game, it's much more than that. It's a challenge that I have to win. I am a fighter and I'll fight to win whatever it takes!
What is your Invictus project?
It's to open my own gym in Beirut. I want it to be free for people who don’t have money. And I really want to give kids a chance to learn kickboxing.
I invested everything into kick boxing when I was younger and it changed my life. I want to give back to the people that have nothing, especially the kids.
Do you have a motto?
If you train hard, you will succeed easily.