AMMAN – Three ambitious brothers with a desire to be the best put their mind and all their effort into participating in the world’s biggest jiu-jitsu championship and ended up landing two gold medals as a result of their determination.
16-year-old Laith Kayyali, 15-year-old Hazem Kayyali and 10-year-old Zaki Kayyali represented Jordan at the Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu World Children’s Cup, which ended on April 22.
Laith won the gold medal for the 71.5 kg in the juvenile category against 16 other contestants, while Hazem won the gold medal for the 62.5 kg teen category against 17 opponents.
The competition included more than 4,000 participants from almost 85 countries.
Hazem said that contestants around him did not expect him to win because he looked smaller to them.
“The people I fought against were much stronger so it wasn’t easy. But it’s not always about strength, that’s something that the sport of jiu-jitsu teaches us. It’s not always about how big you are as size and age don’t matter. What matters is how determined you are, which is what makes you different from other people, how much you train and how committed to the sport you are,” he told The Jordan Times Sunday.
His older brother Laith was crowned after defeating an opponent from Palestine in just 30 seconds, with 3 minutes and 30 seconds left from the fight time to spare.
The three brothers started their professional training five years ago when their father recognised that they had a natural talent for marshal arts. The youngest Kayyali was six years old when he began training.
“We were part of the team that we started four years ago,” said Laith who so far has four gold medals and one bronze medal under his belt.
The Kayyali brothers expressed their love for the sport and how it has helped shape them both mentally and physically.
Hazem winner of three gold medals and one bronze, described how the sport has contributed in molding his character and personality.
“Without jiu-jitsu I wouldn’t be the person I ‘am,” Hazem said.
Zaki, who has won three medals from previous tournaments, said that the martial art made him more in control of things around him.
“I used to get into trouble for getting into fights at school before, but this sport teaches you discipline and how to protect yourself in any situation,” he said.
When they are not training for more than 15 hours a week, the brothers have other hobbies; Hazem sings, Laith raps and Zaki does break dance. The talented kids speak four languages including Arabic, French, Russian and English and they are working on learning German.
Their proud father, Mohammad Kayyali, said that investing in his children was a parent’s best decision.
“Good work will always give you good results,” he said. “I am on top of the world. I advise any father to spend time with his kids. We have a relationship like friends. Their mother is very supportive and is definitely very proud as well.”
What was frustrating to the parent, however, was the lack of interest and support companies in Jordan have shown to the children’s achievements.
“Before we go to the championship we attempted to get them sponsored from a couple of mega companies here, but no one in Jordan picked up on the opportunity of sponsoring three talents. We weren’t asking for charity,” said the father.
This piece was published in The Jordan Times.