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I was a kitchen porter on minimum wage, now I’m one of the UK’s top Thai boxers

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AMRO GHANEM has gone from washing dishes for minimum wage to fighting prestigious Muay Thai titles.

The Egyptian-born Italian came to the UK eleven years ago without a word of English in his repertoire to work as a kitchen porter.

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Amro Ghanem is one of the most exciting fighters in all of UK Muay ThaiCredit: MTGP
The Egyptian-born Italian is a Team Tieu standout and a regular on Muay Thai Grand Prix shows

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The Egyptian-born Italian is a Team Tieu standout and a regular on Muay Thai Grand Prix showsCredit: MTGP
Ghanem has built quite the fan base thanks to his ferocious fighting style

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Ghanem has built quite the fan base thanks to his ferocious fighting styleCredit: MTGP
But the 29-year-old's journey to being one of the best fighters in the UK hasn't been easy

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But the 29-year-old’s journey to being one of the best fighters in the UK hasn’t been easyCredit: MTGP

Fighting in some of the biggest shows in the world would have seemed like a pipe dream for Ghanem when he upped sticks from Milan for London with a mere €200 in his pocket.

But that’s exactly where the 29-year-old will find himself on June 8 when he vies for the Thai Fight 65kg Intercontinental title on Kick and Punch’s latest show in Turin.

And to say his journey to fighting for internationally renowned belts and becoming one of the country’s best coaches has been physically and mentally testing would be an understatement.

“Sometimes I look back and can’t even believe how far I’ve come,” he candidly admitted in an exclusive interview with SunSport. “When I first came to the UK, I was a KP.

“I was washing dishes all day for minimum wage and it was a struggle.

“I used to share a room with four other people and I was sharing a bed with a man who I didn’t even know. We ended up being friends.

“But my first time in London, it was really hard. There were ten of us in a house and it wasn’t nice.

“But I stuck to the grind, kept working hard and put my head down and we got here.

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Amro Ghanem's upbringing has instilled with a bulletproof mindset

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Amro Ghanem’s upbringing has instilled with a bulletproof mindsetCredit: MTGP

“It’s been a hell of a journey, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Those testing times – as well as a tough upbringing in Italy – developed a bulletproof mindset that Ghanem carries into the ring and every other aspect of his life.

“I grew up with a very tough mentality, we didn’t have much growing up,” Ghanem admitted. “My parents and I, we come from not much.

“My parents are immigrants – my dad is a chef and my mum doesn’t work. We’ve been through times growing up.

“But you know what they say, ‘Tough times don’t last, tough people do.’

“So even growing up, I’ve always had a solid mentality about never quitting.”

It wasn’t long after he arrived in London that Ghanem, who was thrust into kickboxing by his dad to keep him off the streets, started training with Team Tieu at Gymbox.

He didn’t know it at the time, but the decision to put his fighting future in the hands of one of the UK’s standout teams would put him on the path to a better life.

And the impact head coach Philip Tieu, and that of his brothers David and Matthew, have had on his life is something he’s eternally grateful for.

He said: “They are a massive part of my life. I consider them to be part of my family.

“Because I genuinely see them more than I see my own family. I basically kind of live with them.

“We don’t live under the same roof, but we basically train together and chill together six days a week.

“I see them more than I see my wife. They are a huge part of me.

“They took me in from when I was a nobody.

Amro Ghanem stopped Brandon Bartell in March to claim the MTGP Under 66kg Intercontinental title

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Amro Ghanem stopped Brandon Bartell in March to claim the MTGP Under 66kg Intercontinental titleCredit: MGTP
Ghanem admits he owes a lot of his success to David, Philip and Mathew Tieu

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Ghanem admits he owes a lot of his success to David, Philip and Mathew TieuCredit: TEAM TIEU

“I could hardly jab and I wasn’t really about that life and they made me become the fighter and the person I am today.

“I appreciate them a lot. Especially Matty, whose got a special place in my heart.”

Standing between Ghanem and his latest strap is Mohand ‘Go Fast’ Arkat.

‘The Handsome Killer’ will go into the bout buoyed by his brutal body shot stoppage of Brandon Bartell in March, which saw him claim the Muay Thai Grand Prix Under 66kg Intercontinental title.

Reflecting on the emphatic finish, Ghanem said: “We were practising this throughout the whole entire camp.

“My coach Matthew Tieu – and obviously Philip Tieu – we’ve been working on my left hook to the body.

“Because we knew it would work great in our game plan for Bartell.

“We knew that Brandon was very tricky and a super skilful fighter, so the whole camp we worked on medium range and applying pressure from round one.

“I think I stuck to my game plan perfectly.

“I said leading up to the fight that I was going to drown him and take him to deep waters and eventually win by KO. And that’s what happened.”

Amro Ghanem locks horns with Mohand Arkat on June 8

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Amro Ghanem locks horns with Mohand Arkat on June 8Credit: KICK AND PUNCH

At 29, Ghanem is just entering his physical prime, which he hopes to be in when he eventually makes it to ONE Championship.

But he’s refusing to look too far into the future and is focused solely on building an undeniable resume one fight at a time.

“I think eventually ONE Championship will come,” he said. “I’ve been there a few times as a cornerman.

“I love ONE Championship, I find it very exciting.

“But right now, I’m just focusing on building up my name in the Muay Thai world as much as I can.

“Whenever ONE Championship comes, I’ll be ready.

“But until then I’m just going to keep making waves in the Muay Thai world.

“I’m just living day by day and I don’t really want to think about the future now.”

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