Hong Kong heavyweight Alain “The Panther” Ngalani is much more than a hulking kickboxing expert and mixed martial arts star.
The 43-year-old is also a remarkable example of how a sporting career need not finish in an athlete’s late 30s.
With a physique that looks like it has been drawn by the artist of a superhero comic and spectacular striking techniques that could have come straight out of a video game, Ngalani is a rare talent in ONE Championship.
The Cameroon-born knockout artist returns to action at ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES in Bangkok, Thailand on Saturday, 6 October looking to register another spectacular knockout victory to thrill his fans.
Ngalani will face Australian heavyweight Andre “The Giant” Meunier in a ONE Super Series kickboxing bout at the Impact Arena, and says he feels in great physical shape ahead of the contest.
“I don’t even remember I’m 43 until someone asks me,” he laughs.
“Being more active makes me feel much younger.”
Ahead of his latest bout, Ngalani revealed he is taking extra inspiration from a fellow martial arts veteran.
The 51-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Renzo Gracie made a winning return to ONE Championship at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS with a victory over Yuki Kondo, and his post-bout speech resonated with “The Panther”.
“Renzo said it better than me,” he says.
“He said, ‘If you think that you are old, then you are old.’ It’s all in the mindset, and I’m feeling really good.”
The fact Ngalani spends much of his time training younger students is also a contributing factor.
He trains a host of aspiring martial artists at his gym, Impakt Academy of Mixed Martial Arts, where he sets a breathless pace for his students to match.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than working with young people, seeing their enthusiasm, and seeing them inspired by what you do,” he explains.
“I want my students to be better than me, but it also challenges me to wake up early in the morning to be one step ahead and on top of my game.”
Despite being 43, Ngalani is showing no signs of slowing down. He has already competed in mixed martial arts and kickboxing bouts under the ONE Championship banner this year and will return to ONE Super Series in Bangkok on 6 October.
As a four-time kickboxing and Muay Thai world champion, the Hong Kong native is excited to go back to his striking roots and showcase his skills.
Now chasing goals on two fronts, there are plenty of challenges ahead for Ngalani, whose desire to add a mixed martial arts world title to his Muay Thai and kickboxing titles remains undimmed.
“I always set challenges,” he says.
“I’m a world champion in kickboxing and Muay Thai, and I decided that I will not stop until I win the World Title in mixed martial arts, and that’s what I’m going to do.
“ONE Super Series came along, and I decided I want to top my kickboxing record and add another World Title there. I need a title in ONE Championship, and I will not stop until I get there.”