“I will trick you. It doesn’t matter the distance I will get you in the face!” Ballafrikh told The Zebra. “Whenever I go fight… I’m representing this gym and I am representing Alexandria.”
ALEXANDRIA, VA – Have you heard the caged lion roar?
Amine Ballafrikh, the Moroccan-born Muay Thai fighter, is on a quest to be a world champion, and with North America already under his belt he’s using Alexandria as his base of operations. That’s right! The 27-year-old lives and trains in the Fairfax County portion of Alexandria, and no longer wants to only be considered the fighter from Morocco. He wants to be known as the fighter from Alexandria, Virginia, and anyone who gets in the ring with him might want to watch out! His signature move is kicking his opponents in the face.
The 27-year-old Ballafrikh is the two-time North American Lightweight Muay Thai champ! He has a professional record of 13-3 and an amateur record of 36-4. He trains at Capital MMA at 6301 Richmond Highway, is also known by another name – “The Lion,” because of his ferocity in the ring and his native country’s connection to the majestic African king of the beasts.
“I have the heart of a lion. As a lion if you do not kill me I will not stop” he said.
You might’ve heard about mixed martial arts or UFC – the Ultimate Fighting
Championship, but Muay Thai is a little more brutal. Muay Thai fighters use un-padded knees and elbows, which has left Ballafrikh with more than his fair share of scars. And if you watch his fights on Youtube you might catch a familiar pattern – his opponents will keep their distance because of his kicks, and then when they get too close… Wham! He kicks them in the face with feet so muscular and double jointed they look like they could grip a basketball.
“I have scars all over my head; on my temples and around my eyes,” Ballafrikh said.
The Road From Morocco
Ballafrikh was born in a small town near Rabat, the capital of Morocco. As the youngest of nine children, and with his father working in the U.S., he started working at seven years of age by selling plastic bags and sharpening knives in markets. He became a plasterer at the age of 14, which was also when he started training in Muay Thai. Up until that point, he says, he was always getting into street fights.
“If I see someone pick on someone I want to go and fight him,” Ballafrikh said.
He had his first amateur fight three months after starting training, and lost. The shocked young fighter was convinced he’d won his fight, and only after watching the video realized that he was not invincible and intensified his training regimen. He won his first national title at the age of 16, and four years later moved to Alexandria to live with his father.
After working a number of odd jobs, and without speaking English, he moved to New York City for a few years and became a truck driver. Eventually he moved back to the area and began training at Capital MMA. After work driving, he would often park his trailer behind the gym and his trainers would have to knock on his door in the morning. He’d emerge from the bed of his truck to start training for the day.
Ballafrikh is now a full-time trainer at Capital MMA and lives a Spartan lifestyle fighting exclusively for Lion Fight Promotions LLC. He says that he can fight up to six times a year, and last year took his team to the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT, to win the North American Lightweight championship.
What’s new for the Alexandria fighter? He has to participate in a Superfight, and he has to fight a European fighter.
“So, the fights are going to go overseas,” Ballafrikh said. “Where? We’re not sure exactly. It’s between Italy, Australia, and Sweden. I have to fight someone from Europe, and then I need to fight for a world belt.”