DJEDDAH: In an unexpected turn of events, a Saudi father living in the United States won gold with his ailing son as his biggest fan and best coach.
Mohammed Jwaied Mr. Al-Mukhalis Al-Yami unwittingly found himself in the midst of his own inspiring story, which was widely shared on social media and caught the attention of Saudis around the world.
Al-Mukhalis, a former Aramco employee, moved to Houston, Texas, with his youngest son, Fahad, who suffers from a congenital heart and lung defect. After years of treatment in Saudi hospitals, Fahad, the youngest of his three sons, was transferred to one of the best hospitals in Houston to undergo a life-saving lung transplant, with help from the Saudi government.
“I needed a distraction and I found it by training Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which keeps me busy and distracts me from negative thoughts,” Al-Mukhalis told Arab News.
âMy son is my biggest fan and my trainer too. He’s always by my side as I train and that’s a blessing, especially since it’s just us here.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art and combat sport based on ground fights and submissive holds. It is a relatively delicate sport that requires concentration and maneuvering to beat an opponent, which Al-Mukhalis found easy. His coaches helped him discover a talent he never knew he possessed, as Al-Mukhalis draws inspiration from Fahad who encourages him every step of the way.
With his wife and two eldest sons back in the Kingdom, Al-Mukhalis carried his son’s oxygen cylinder on his shoulder and accompanied him to the hospital every day as he underwent treatment before. transplant surgery. Al-Mukhalis spent his extra time training on the jiu-jitsu mat.
âIt helped me get rid of my feelings of sadness and grief,â he said.
Al-Mukhalis began to gain confidence by winning local competitions to an outstanding performance at the 2021 IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi World Championship at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, TX.
âI won first place in the 155-pound GI-adult category,â he said. “With my son watching and his fight in mind, he was my inspiration to win the championship in an exciting climax.”
Al-Mukhalis went from a Saudi in a foreign country to a world champion. He achieved the transformation with hard work and effort – a victory he could not achieve without Fahad by his side.
âMy son and I have made a vow to never give up when I fight and he will also continue to fight his illness,â Al-Mukhalis said.