At 19, Mohammed JARAYA is already a phenomenon. He is one of Enfusion's superstars, winning the world belt at just 17. Our dutch correspondent met Mohammed in his gym. Here's his interview.
I played soccer from my 7th until my 13th. At this age I came in contact with kickboxing. One day I joined my uncle who was visiting his friend who was a kickboxing trainer. Kickboxing was love at first sight.
Have you finished school?
I have not finished my high school. I tried to combine top sport with my studies, but I was so tired during classes and it was affecting my daily routine. Luckily I was able to get a professional contract so I was able to concentrate full time on the sport.
Have you ever fought under Muay Thai rules?
I never had to chance yet to fight under these rules, but I would like to try it. But before I would do a fight I would need to look into the rules as there is a big difference not only fight wise but also how one scores points. I have been training in Thailand a few times at the Superpro Gym, Samui. This was a great experience as one lives for Muay Thai 24/7. This is a big difference in comparison with for example Holland.
You are a Dutch Moroccan, how does that feel in this time?
I have a strong bond with Morocco. When I was young it was the country were we went for holiday. Nowadays I still go there to see family and we even have a training camp there with Fighting Talents.
How did you end up at Enfusion?
I was noticed because of my results as these are pretty good they could not ignore me anymore. This is the mean reason why they offered me a contract. At the moment I am participating in the Enfusion League, with some nice price money at the end of the road. I am convinced that I will be the last man standing at the end even if the competition is pretty good.
In September you had your first fight with the Enfusion League.
Yes, and I lost. This was against Tayfun Ozcan....... Losing is part of the sport, but I don't like it but I guess nobody likes it. Nevertheless a loss motivates me and it will make me a better fighter at the end as I will not make the same mistakes again. The Enfusion League competition is strong, a very talented field and again with Nordin Ben Mo. I will fight Nordin again 18 February in Eindhoven. The next fight will be 20 November again Jonay Risco. Very talented fighter as he fought Andy Souwer recently and won. There is also a French guy competing, Crice Boussoukou and another fighter from Amsterdam, Serginio Kanters. Like I said a tuff field but at the end I will be the last man standing.
Can u remember your first fight?
Yes I can, very well. This was my first professional fight against an opponent who was 10 year older than me, I was 18 years at that time. It was pretty nerve racking being my first match ever. It did not take more than one minute, I won with a back kick. perfectly placed.
What is a fight you will never forget?
This will be the fight against Nordin Ben Moh, a fighter who I respect a lot. This was the toughest match ever. Not only physically but also mentally. Never ever did I go down twice and the referee needed to count. This was a new experience for me. at that moment you are all alone, nobody can help you. It is impossible to train this kind of situation, you have to trust your own abilities. At this particular moment the sport can be very lonely. Besides that, Nordin is a friend as well which makes the fight even more interesting. The most asked questions at that time was "if it was hard to fight a friend", but for me it is just business after the match we can make jokes again and have a drink.
Which fight has been the most important for your career ?
That will be the first fight against the 10 year older guy. After this fight I knew what I wanted and I only have been growing stronger physically and mentally. Winning against Tayfun Ozcan is also one of these examples proofing my abilities in this sport at an age of 18 years. This fight really helped opening more doors. Of course the fight again Nordin Ben Moh is a classic already and I promise you guys there is more to come.
What about pressure?
Yes pressure can be an energy consumer as well. In this fight again Nordin the event was really hyped and sold out. So there is a lot of weight on your shoulders to deliver a good result. Nevertheless I know that I have trained well and I believe in my abilities. The next step is to stay calm, guard up and moving forward.
You are becoming more and more famous, how does this affect you?
It's all about my results within the ring. Being recognized on the street I see as recognition for my results in the sport and it gives me an extra good feeling that I am on the right track.
How would you describe your fighting style?
I always try to put pressure on my opponent by moving forward. I never go for the knock-out, I try to prepare the knock-out by not letting my opponent get into the fight.
Do you also have weak points?
(Long silence) I could train harder...
What can you say about your current team “Fighting Talents”?
Fighting talents is my second home. I learned my first moves there at the age of 13. I owe these guys where I am now. They are my trainers and the people I trust.
In your sport do you have a special fighter you admire?
Yes, my big hero is Badr Hari. He is Moroccan of course and I would like to follow in his footsteps. It is very special what he has achieved in his sport career. I understand there are a lot of people who don't like him but that is mostly because of what happened outside the ring and I do not condone that. In December he will fight after his short retirement and for sure he will surprise the world again.
Who would you like to fight?
All the fighters who participate in my weight class. I have challenged all the big names already but they are scared or their contract does not permit them to take the challenge. When I win the Enfusion League they will have to acknowledge this and start organizing something otherwise an organization like Glory and there fighters will be a joke.
What goal do you have in your career?
I want to become World Champion and become one of the greatest.
The last question for now. What would have become of you if you would not have chosen for a life as a professional fighter?
I would probably have studied a bit more serious and then chosen the normal family life. One thing I know for sure is that I would not have been working in an office with a boss. That is not my thing.