ROME… The Eternal city that houses a wealth of ancient, medieval and modern marvels is unlike many other European capitals. It is from here that the autocratic Roman Empire expanded its reach and built a dynasty that spanned right across Europe into the Middle East and North Africa. A few thousand years later, there are a plethora of monuments that remind us of this particular period in time (including a large number right here in the Middle East) albeit few of them enjoy the recognition that the Coliseum in Rome does.
Given that the Coliseum invokes images of gladiators doing battle and fighting wild beasts, it is very fitting that right here in the center of Rome, a city that has been celebrating fighters for thousands of years, we find El Cheikh Fares Moussa, a Shogun Alum! A Muay Thai practitioner with a handful of titles in Lebanon, Switzerland and Italy, Fares has now called Rome his home for the past couple of years.
Fares, how did you first get into combat sports and Muay Thai?
I began at the Lebanese American University with G. Master Sami Kiblawi, and then due to the high mental and physical fitness level required of the training he offered at his “Shogun” gym, I began to train there.
We did not train to be number one; we trained to remain number one! Over the next six years, I trained in Lebanon, Thailand, Switzerland, and Italy, but the toughness of the training which I received at Shogun was above all the others at which I trained.
Have you put your skills to the test in a competition setting?
Since I started training, I have never been defeated, allowing me to win gold medals and championship cups in:
- The Lebanese Cup
- Lebanese Universities Championship
- Lebanese gyms Championship
- Lebanese Championship
- Muay Thai Tournament Switzerland
- Muay Thai Tournament Italy
The only way to take me off the ring without a medal is a doctor’s decision not allowing me to fight because of an injury in a previous fight.
What brings you to Italy and how are you keeping your skills sharp?
I moved to Italy in 2010 and continued my studies at John Cabot University (Double major in Economics and Finance and Business Administration). I wanted to continue to practice Muay Thai, but I did not have time to train at a gym, so I decided to start one in the university with my friends. It grew from there to the point where I had many students and some of them were more promising, so I decided to start a fight team, who, Out of 7 fights, won 5 gold medals and 2 bronze medals.
What do you make of the fight scene here in Italy?
The fight scene in Italy is disappointing. There are many good fighters, but, in general, Muay Thai in Italy is below expectations.
Are you finding it hard balancing practice with studying for a double major?
My studies take most of my time, but I’m managing to stay fit for a fight at any time. I never refused a fight, and never will. My eyes are on the World Championship, and I will train as if it is next week. My training was four days a week and it changed to six days during pre-fight preparations.
Have you been following the MMA scene in the Middle East since you came to Italy?
Recently I have been watching desert force and there are a lot of promising fighters at the world level. I would love to join at some stage, maybe when I finish of my studies over here.
That would be awesome! What are your future plans in the interim?
Remain number one in and out of the ring