July 16, 2002
Edition: One Dot
SEPT. 11 INSPIRED KICKBOXER
The Detroit News
KEEGO HARBOR -- Omar Akl was visiting his native Lebanon
Sept. 11 when he watched in horror as the World Trade Center and
The footage of heroic firefighters on the other side of the world
touched Akl, who grew up in Lebanon in the late 1980s in the war-torn
"They (firefighters) were getting injured, you
could see it," said Akl. "They were struggling as they
worked to try and help and save the lives of others.
"I thought to myself that if, and when, I came
back to the U.S., I wanted to do something to help."
With that in mind, Akl contacted Farmington Hills
Fire Chief Rich Marinucci when he returned to Michigan.
Akl, a personal trainer and class instructor at Get
A Grip Fitness in Keego Harbor, started training when he was 9 years
"My first love and hobby was soccer but my father
wanted me to know the martial arts," said Akl, whose school
near Beirut was destroyed in a bombing.
His father's insistence paid off. From 1993 to 2000
Akl held three championship titles for Lebanese boxing, kickboxing
and Muay Thai. In 1996, he won the European kickboxing championship
in Yugoslavia, and in 1998, won the world military boxing championship
title in North Carolina.
Akl is just glad he can do something to help.
"The guys seem to like it. I start with the basics
and discuss techniques: warm-up and then alternate between upper
body and lower body focus. It's a way of exercising and learning
some self-defense all at the same time."
"They can drop some weight and also build
some muscle," Akl said. "We are in our fifth week of class
and I don't know if they love it, but they don't get bored."