Fighter Ning-Nita Ali: “To be as Strong and Respected as Tenshin”
Three years after debuting at the age of 20, Ning Nita Ali has captured the "Krush" welterweight belt.
The pressure I felt being in a position where I was being chased for the first time was tremendous. But I was able to overcome it, and I think I have grown as a fighter.
K-1 fighter Aninta Ali, 23, looks back on his first defense at the end of August with a smile that still retains a hint of innocence.
Born to a Ghanaian father and Japanese mother, he made his professional debut in August 2007. He has accumulated KO victories with his outstanding offensive power, and in February of this year, he was crowned welterweight champion in “Krush,” a tournament sponsored by K-1. His greatest weapon is his unpredictable kicks, which he delivers with his superior physical abilities.
I am good at jumping knees and high kicks, using the spring in my body,” he said. I can attack from a distance that other fighters can’t reach, so I can hit my opponent even when he thinks he has ducked. My greatest strength is that I have a reach that is different from others.
Including his amateur days, he has lost only once in 18 fights. His opponent was Masaaki Noiri (29), a monster who has won numerous titles.
I’ll never forget the shock. It was the semifinal of the tournament for my first title at “K-1 WORLD GP – Yokohamatsuri” last September. The technique was amazing, but the biggest difference I felt was mental. Nogami had an uncanny determination to ‘take the title at any cost. I didn’t have that determination. That loss made me gung-ho for the title fight in February this year. It was a turning point in my career.”
Ning Nita’s career is going well, having won the title less than three years after his debut. However, he says that he had a series of hardships before he discovered martial arts. His first setback came when he was in the second grade of elementary school. He developed Perthes’ disease, a condition that causes necrosis of the bone tissue in the femur.
Until then, I had been a mischievous boy at school, but because of the disease, I became shy. I could no longer play soccer, which I loved at the time. But what was even more difficult was my school life after leaving the hospital. My classmates made fun of my walking aid brace, and I was ostracized. I remember how frustrated I was and how hard I worked on my rehabilitation.
Thanks to his efforts, he successfully overcame his illness. In junior high school, he immersed himself in soccer and eventually began to dream of becoming a professional player. However, even here he experienced a major setback.
Instead of continuing on to high school, he decided to study abroad. I was selected to play for Feyenoord in the Dutch first division. The result was not good, but I was introduced to a training institute in Ghana, my father’s home country. I woke up at sunrise and practiced until late at night at this club specializing in training, which also had connections to other European countries. But the results were not good. Gradually, I couldn’t keep up with the level of the people around me, and I decided to return to Japan the year I turned 19.
Even so, he never stopped challenging himself.
In Ghana, martial arts are a popular national sport. I used to watch the fights of Mayweather (45). So I decided that if I was going to start something, it would be martial arts.
As I devoted myself to soccer, I often thought to myself, ‘If I didn’t have the disease, I’d be playing at ……. If I ran away from it, it would be like I was losing to the disease. I didn’t want to do that. So I definitely wanted to be an athlete. I think I am good at kicking because of soccer. When I think about it, all the challenges I have taken on have not been in vain. That’s how I look at it.
After overcoming many obstacles, he has arrived at where he is today. When we asked him about his dreams for the future, he told us about his dream.
Tenshin Nasukawa (24). It is amazing that he is of the same generation and fights against Mayweather. I want to become a strong and respected fighter too. If I do that, I can become a goal for children who are suffering from the same disease. For that reason, I want to do my best.
In order to continue to shine as a hope for children, he will not stop.
From “FRIDAY” December 2 and 9, 2022
PHOTO： Takehiko Kohiyama