Asian MMA

Johan Ghazali Talks Family Lineage Ahead Of ONE 167 Return

Image for Johan Ghazali Talks Family Lineage Ahead Of ONE 167 Return

17-year-old phenom Johan Ghazali will get a massive test at ONE 167. ONE Championship returns to the Impact Arena in Bangkok and puts the teen star against Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat. Ghazali’s five-bout winning streak will be in jeopardy, but a win could thrust him into the thick of the title race.

But the Maylasian-American star’s journey began long before he stepped onto the global stage. His father was part of the Muay Thai scene in Malaysia before he traveled to the United States. It was there a chance meeting would lead to a family business of martial arts.

“My mom started training in America when she was 15. My mom was a housewife before we had the gym, but now with the gym, she’s a promoter [the gym hosts the Rentap Fighting Championship]. She organizes fights now, and she’s always really into it. She met my dad in a Muay Thai gym, actually. My dad was in America studying at that time. I guess they both went to the same Muay Thai gym, and that’s how it happened,” Ghazali told ONE.

Ghazali does not just credit his penchant for combat to his parents. He also notes his grandfather’s time in the Malaysian military. Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Mohd Ghazali bin Che Mat was a high-ranking general in the Malaysian defense forces and someone the 17-year-old believes was the beginning of the fighting spirit he has today.

“My granddad on my dad’s side is a war hero, a true veteran. You can easily search him up on Google. He’s done tremendous things for the country during his service, and I think maybe that fight in me really came down from him,” the rising star stated.

Ghazali’s family history shows he has come from a long line of fighters. Ghazali dug deeper into his family tree to point out past athletes. On both the Malaysian and American sides of his family, “Jojo” has been built for his current career in combat sports.

“On my mom’s side, her grandfather from her dad’s side was a boxer, as well. He used to fight on the undercards of some of Jack Dempsey’s shows. His name was Erick Johnson Sr. He fought under the name Swede Johnson. And my other great-grandfather was an American football player, you know, who was a very tough guy. There were stories about him while he was playing football. He injured his neck, and he didn’t notice until only a month after or something like that. So warrior blood is definitely in me,” Ghazali detailed.

It is from his past that the 17-year-old looks to the future. The budding superstar gets inspiration from his lineage, believing he can be the next generation to show his talents—the results thus far back up that premise.

“I think it’s just my destiny to keep on this run, like getting out the hard work through sports or something important to the world. You know, if they can do it, I believe I have to continue the tradition,” Ghazali commented.

At ONE 167, Ghazali will have a chance to show out in front of a global viewing audience and in front of ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon, who will also be competing on the card. With a win, “Jojo” hopes to step foot on U.S. soil and compete there as well. But it is more than just getting new fans; he wants to bring his family along for the ride for both Malaysia and the United States.

“I want to continue making my family name proud, and I can get that done here, and maybe book a fight in the U.S. and continue flourishing there too in front of a new set of fans, and more importantly, my family, who have been wanting to watch me fight live for so long,” Ghazali said.

ONE 167 airs live on Friday, June 7, from the Impact Arena in Bangkok. The action begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. The event is free on Prime Video for all U.S. and Canadian Amazon Prime subscribers.

Share this article

Jeremy Brand is an experienced MMA writer and columnist. He is the founder of, and has represented the company with media credentials at many mixed martial arts fights. Jeremy is also a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, training in BC, Canada.