It is common knowledge that Muslims excel in martial arts, especially Sambo and wrestling. There is no doubt that their success is matched by their religious lifestyle. Until now, we have seen big names in boxing and MMA, and today, we will look at their achievements on the mat of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, where they are also indispensable.
Faisal Al- Kitbe
Faisal Fahad Al Ketbi was born in 1987 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. After trying to grapple sport for the first time as a 10-year-old child, excelling in freestyle wrestling, Faisal started training BJJ at 11. He competes in the -207lbs category, and his team is UAE BJJ, led by coaches Maiky Reiter and Alex Paz.
It was under their tutelage he earned his black belt in 2014. His grappler record for 15 years of competition is 33 wins and 29 losses. As for his achievements, he won the following results: as a blue belt, he won 1st Place in UAEJJF Abu Dhabi Pro in 2009/2010, and in the same competition, he won second place in 2011, and in 2012 again first but as a purple belt.
After participating with a brown belt, Faisal won 1st Place in UAEJJF Abu Dhabi Pro 2013/2014, 2nd Place in the IBJJF Pan Championship, and 3rd Place in the IBJJF European Open 2013. He was also runner-up at the UAEJJF Tokyo Grand Slam in 2015 and UAEJJF Abu Dhabi Pro 2017/2019
Helio “Soneca” Moreira
Helio Pires Moreira was born in Teresopolis, Rio de Janeiro, in 1969. He discovered the charms of Brazilian jiu-jitsu when he was 8 years old, and he became the Brazilian champion the following year. In his hometown, he trained at Academia Serrana, where he stayed until his blue belt, and at 13, Helio moved to Barra Gracie, where he earned his black belt at 22.
During his competitive days, he participated in the category up to 141lbs, where he achieved the results of World Champion in 2016, Brazilian Champion in 2017, and NAGA Champion in 2001. The MMA world is not unknown to Moreira either, as he achieved two victories by submission in two matches. Due to health problems, Helio turned to tutoring and conducting seminars worldwide, and his contribution to this sport is enormous.
A very young and already realized potential with years ahead of him comes to us from Abu Dhabi, where he was born in 2000 and only tried BJJ at 16. After his dedicated effort and time, Zayed achieved something rarely seen as he became a professional as a white belt, where he competed in the 127 lbs category.
Zayed received his black belt in the not-so-distant past in 2022, which he managed to earn in five years, which shows what a prospect he is. On the way to the most demanding belt, Zayed achieved 25 wins and five losses, and his wall of success consists of the following achievements.
From 2019 to 2022, as a blue, purple, and brown belt, he won first place in numerous AJP competitions, and his most recent success was first place in 2023 at the IBJJF Pan Championship.
Unlike the predecessors of this list, Saeed comes to us from Chechnya, where he was born in 1988. Due to the war problems that made childhood difficult for all Chechens, Dunkaev used that energy competing in boxing, sambo, and wrestling, but exclusively for recreational reasons, until he devoted himself to BJJ.
Saeed competed in the category up to 195.0 lbs as a purple and brown belt, and at prestigious competitions, he took first place six times and second place twice in a short period from 2017 to 2019. Among those competitions are World Championships, American Nationals, and Pan Championships, where he excelled in Gi and No-Gi competitions. His latest success came in 2020 when he took third place at the UAEJJF Grand Slam Master, and in the same year, he founded his Neezam Jiu-Jitsu team.
Samy Al Jamal
Samy was born in 1966 in Brazil and has Palestinian roots through both parents. He started practicing martial arts very early, where he excelled and earned a black belt in Judo, Shotokan Karate, and a brown belt in Wing Chung before he tried Jitsu and became addicted.
After 30 years, Samy returned to the Middle East with his parents, more precisely to Jordan, where Al-Jamal began to compete in the category up to 176lbs and made a great contribution to the sport in that region by founding Source MMA, where he founded the first BJJ Women’s team in the Middle East, where he even received the support of the king of Jordan.
In 1998, he became the International Masters & Seniors Champion and, the following year, the ADCC Champion. In 2002, he won silver at the International Masters & Seniors. In 2003 and 2006, he won a bronze medal in the same competition.
Almir Kapić was born in 1980 in Banovići, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and is the current number one ranked BJJ fighter in the country. For many years, he has lived in the capital, Sarajevo, where he works and trains in his own BJJ Arena club.
He graduated from the famous Al-Azhar Faculty of Islamic Studies in Cairo, and in 2018, Almir became a Hafiz. This scholar made a big contribution to his country both from the religious and sports aspects, and he started practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 2011.
He competed for up to 218 lbs and above 202 lbs and made great successes. He became the world champion in jiu-jitsu in 2018 at a competition that took place in Abu Dhabi. In 2016, he also became world champion in Abu Dhabi. He was also runner-up, which shows how much success he actually achieved in a short time.
Benjamin Šehić is a young dragon from Bosnia, born in 1995 in war-occupied Sarajevo. Benjamin’s conditions in which he grew up helped him become the fighter and man he is today. Considering his success, he found love in Brazilian jitsu rather late at the age of 18 with the already mentioned Almir Kapić.
He was promoted to black belt by Zaid Brenduka, and he received the IBJJF-certified black belt in 2022. Benjamin is the winner of many regional BJJ competitions. He says he has over 100 matches that he mostly finished by submission.
Šehić says that the reason for his non-participation on the world stage is a lack of money, which is why he turned to MMA and doing seminars, where he has a current record of 5 wins and 3 losses, of which he finished all five fighters by submission.
Haisam Girrafe Rida was born in 1993 in Accra, Ghana. He committed to sports activities in his school days, where he competed in basketball and football, and he dedicated himself to Brazilian JITSA in 2010 with coach Yamada Shigetak when he moved to Tokyo with his family.
Rida earned all his belts from white to brown with that coach but got his black belt and nickname after transferring to Carpe Diem Academy. He competes in the 208.0 lbs category. Hisam left the mark in the competitions where he performed as a brown belt, winning the Asian and Japanese competitions in 2017/2018.
Among his recent and significant successes, it is important to note that in 2020/2021, he became the IBJJF American Nationals NOGI champion and first place at Quintet Fight Night II 2019.
Gamal Hassan is a highly skilled BJJ instructor born in Brazil. Because of his contribution to the sport, he has become one of the most respected BJJ figures. Hassan’s journey in martial arts began at a young age. As a child, he was fascinated by the discipline and precision of combat sports.
He trained in traditional martial arts disciplines, such as karate and judo. However, it was not until he discovered Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that his true passion was ignited. After years of training and honing his skills, Hassan earned his black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under renowned Master Carlos Gracie Jr. and his brother, Helio Gracie.
Hassan’s dedication and talent in BJJ led him to compete in various national and international tournaments. He achieved remarkable success, earning numerous championship titles and accolades along the way. In 2008, Hassan established his own academy, where he continues to provide training and guidance to aspiring BJJ practitioners of all ages and skill levels.
Nabil Lelis Abdel Aziz
Better known as Master Nabil, he was born in 1977 in Manaus, Brazil. He started practicing BJJ at the age of 15 with Paulo “Amebo” Barros of Barraco Jiu-Jitsu. Like everyone else, he fell in love with this sport. With his original trainer, Nabil stayed until his black belt, after which he decided to establish his Nabil JJ Academy, where he worked with high-elite grapplers and became a factory to produce championship materials.
In his competitive forays in the category up to 222.0 lbs, Nabil achieved quality results such as first place at the FJJAM Amazonas State Championship (NoGi Championship at the same competition), FJJE Amazonas State Championship, and IBJJF Manaus International Open, all in the period of 2005 until 2018. He took second place only once at the IBJJF Manaus International Open in 2015.
If you found this article useful, you may want to save this pin below to your Combat Sports board.