Rafat Shawe, 40
The athlete talks training fighters and what his future holds…
How did your passion for combat sports come about?
When I was 12, in my home country, Iraq, I started doing karate. I was a massive fan of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Bruce Lee movies, and just wanted to try it. I eventually got my black belt, was invited to join the Iraq national team, and I won a gold medal at the International Karate Championship.
You’re also a trainer. What skills do you pass on to your students?
The main thing I teach is discipline. It’s important be in control of everything you do, especially when it comes to fitness and food. If you get this right, I firmly believe everything else falls into place.
What are your goals for the future?
Most MMA fighters’ careers end in their early 40s. I’ve just turned 40, and while my wife asks me to give up every week, I’d still like to do a couple more fights. I’d like to stay in MMA in some way. I think there’s a great opportunity to grow the sport in the Middle East. I feel I know what the region needs and I’m well placed to do it. Watch this space in 2017.