The music is loud, the crowd is cheering…the punches come so fast that you can’t see them but you can hear them as they hit…within 10 seconds a man is thrown across the ring, falls and doesn’t get up. The fighter catches his breath, comes close to take a look at his K.O. opponent and raises his arms in victory as the voices chant ROCKY! ROCKY!
This is not a Hollywood blockbuster. It’s just another day in the life of Rocky Kiblawi, our very own Lebanese action hero who ran the 2016 BLOM BANK Beirut Marathon.
Fighter, marathoner, Lebanese champion
The Muay Thai world champion has been fighting since he was a kid but when you see his fun personality and how he puts everyone at ease in his gym Shogun, you forget that he’s a mean machine. In fact, he could knock you out and then with the same hands prepare you a delicious meal since he studied Hotel Management in London and worked 20 years in the F&B industry before focusing his complete attention on being an athlete.
But with so much to do: championships in Thailand, training the Lebanese army, private students, family…why did the Kru Yai (Teacher/ Assistant Master) decide to run a marathon?
Because it was a challenge
The first time he went on a long run he barely made it to the end of 16K, and that’s when he decided that this would be his new obsession: to conquer long distance running. Then he researched running groups and found the Beirut Marathon’s Beirut 542 training program.
He had always been into all kinds of sports (kickboxing, scuba diving) but running has captured his heart.
The taste of freedom
Rocky found in running a sport that has no limitations. He saw people older than him and less fit than him pass him on the road during races; and it was very humbling and put everything into perspective. Running is something that anyone at any stage of their life can do. You must only get through the hard work while your legs accumulate kilometers and then you have gained the world. “It’s so freeing”.
Since he started running Rocky has participated in all the races he could find over the seven months leading up to the 2016 BLOM BANK Beirut Marathon which he finished in 3 hours 33 minutes, an amazing time for a first marathon. He fit his running program into his busy everyday life, in-between his gym schedule and his students. To some this sounds like a nightmare, but to Rocky it was a dream. “I was ecstatic that I didn’t have to watch what I ate while I ran so much. I ate like a beast and still lost weight”.
Train hard, fight easy
Rocky says that in running, just like Muay Thai, one needs all the support he can get. Had he not gotten local support from friends like Mr. Elie Khoury, he wouldn’t have been able to fulfill his dreams. He hopes that one day he will be the one to help the future generation win medals, participate in tournaments abroad and keep Lebanon on the international sports map.
All these accomplishments and these new goals, is there anything else Rocky wants?
“Yes, always. I want to run a 250K Ultra Marathon for which I will train this year.”
“And then I want to skydive.”
“But Rocky, you told me you were afraid of heights.”
He smiled and said “Exactly.”
Follow Rocky’s journey:
YouTube: Rocky Kiblawi.