The French-Moroccan Boxer Breaking Boundaries

Ahmed El Mousaoui is one to watch

By the age of 28, French-Moroccan boxer Ahmed El Mousaoui has come a long way in a relatively short time. Ranking 18th in the world, El Mousaoui is the only Arab and African boxer in the upper echelons of the boxing world.


Growing up in Yvelines, in the suburbs of Paris, the internationally acclaimed boxer started his career at just eight years of age, after his father pushed him to join a boxing club—a suggestion that eventually led to what is now an extensive career.


Courtesy of Marwen Farhat


By age 14, he went on to win the French championship in his category, before carrying on as an amateur boxer and winning the championship consecutively for the following four years. Having kick started his professional career by the time he was 18 (when he was officially inaugurated as a member of the French national team) El Mousaoui soon went on to win the European championship.


Courtesy of Marwen Farhat


Of the 33 fights El Mousaoui has had since, he’s won 29. He’s been hailed the European champion twice after that and has even defeated two former world champions.


But despite having nailed an already impressive career, El Mousaoui doesn’t seem to see an end in sight—the boxer has his eyes set on becoming a world champion first.


MILLE caught up with the young boxer to talk about his early days as an amateur, his recent stint in America, and what it’s like to be an African athlete in France.


How did you get into boxing?

I started boxing because of my father. I took his advice. It was a real passion for him, and it still is. I knew I wanted to do a sport, but I didn’t know what to choose; I had tried karate and football, but neither really worked for me so I went for boxing.


Courtesy of Marwen Farhat


Did you always want to have a professional career in the sport?

When I started boxing at eight years old, I never thought this could become my profession. But five or six years later, I realised that this was it, this was what I wanted to do. I was around 14 or 15, so I still realised that at a pretty young age.


What was it like growing up in France as an Arab?

It was ok, it wasn’t always easy but it was ok. I rarely had any problems. I am proud to be Moroccan so it was never an issue for me to grow up in France.


What I really care about is making my family proud, those who love me the most.


Courtesy of Marwen Farhat


What was it like to move from France to the US?

In the US, there is a real boxing culture, it’s a true passion for all Americans. A lot of organisations, and the media are interested in it. It’s not the same structure in France. I think there is at least 50 times more box practitioners in the US.


Considering the current climate around multi-national football players in France, do you face any similar issues in the boxing world?

In the French boxing world, up to 70 or 80 percent of boxers are of African origin, so we don’t really have that problem. We don’t have a problem with racism.


But when it comes to how French boxers are perceived, you have to know that in France, boxing is not as mediatised as football, so for the moment there aren’t any major issues.


What’s next for you?

I would love to work on conquering my place in the international top 10.

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