By Caoilte de Barra
When discussing breakout stars from the 2022 Asian Championships, Lebanon’s Charbel Farah cannot be left out of the conversation.
Competing in the junior welterweight division, Farah took gold after winning four bouts across four days. He started strong on the opening day, finishing Kazakhstan’s Alexandr Ivashkin with an armbar in the third round.
He followed up a promising start by outpointing South Korea’s Yongjin Jang and Bahrain’s Ali Marhoon to secure a spot in the final. In the gold medal decider, he faced Uzbekistan’s Shakhriyorbek Mamatkulov, and after a closely contested three rounds, Farah took a split decision victory.
Following his gold medal win, Farah spoke about his journey to the Championships and how his newfound home for MMA sponsored him to compete.
“I want to thank my team, my sponsors, and the Lebanese MMA federation for all the support and for the opportunity they gave me to participate.
“I feel that I was incredibly lucky to have teammates and coaches around me from different gyms and fighting disciplines, preparing me long before I knew about this competition. Later on, I was amazed that the path took me to this one gym, Tristar Gym Lebanon.
“I am deeply grateful for this opportunity and my sponsors’ trust in me. I want to thank Daniel Hilal, my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach and my new MMA home Tristar Gym Lebanon for believing in me and sponsoring me.
His path to gold was not easy, coming up against multiple national MMA champions and World Sambo Junior Champion. Detailing his experience competing over four days, Farah was elated to take gold.
“I had spent my entire life preparing for this moment, and I thank God for returning the Welterweight Asian IMMA Gold Medal to our home country Lebanon”, he began. “This competition was all about who was hungrier and more determined to win! Four consecutive days of non-stop action against Kazakhstan, Korea, Bahrain and Uzbekistan in the finals.”
“The worst part of having to endure all the pain and bruises day after day”, he added.
“This medal was just a dream before flying to Tajikistan, where the Asian Championships were held, and it was my first ever MMA International Tournament. I don’t have words to describe what I’m feeling, and the thought of winning gold is still sinking in. The best is yet to come, and this is still the beginning.”
Farah was not the only Lebanese athlete to reach the podium. His teammate Toni Bou Rached took bronze in the senior lightweight division. The success of both athletes rounds off a successful year for Lebanon on the IMMAF platform after winning medals at youth, junior and senior this year.