Para Taekwondo Refugee Athletes Emerge Victorious in Hope and Dreams Sports Festival


AMMAN, Jordan (May 3, 2024) – For two consecutive years, two refugees from the Za’atari Refugee Camp have earned gold medals in Taekwondo at the Hope and Dreams Sports Festival, held in Amman, Jordan.


Remarkably, both gold medalists - Mohamad Najim, a 14-year-old blue belt, and Mohamad Maher Kerman, a 16-year-old red belt – are Para Taekwondo athletes who won against their able-bodied counterparts. 


The two hail from war-torn Syria. Najim lost his arm as a result of war when he was just three years old, during an attack on his home. Kerman was born with one arm shorter than the other.


Najim, who is notable for his focused look and the confidence that radiates from his eyes, is a natural: He has only been doing Taekwondo – no other sport was offered to him in the camp – for 14 months.


Inspired to take up Taekwondo when he saw its dramatic kicks, he says the secret to his success is confidence. Regarding fighting athletes who have the advantage of an extra working limb, he said, “I don’t care – I beat them all!” His dream is to rise up through the competitive ranks and fight on the international circuit.


Kerman, who has been in training for a year and a half, was inspired by the beauty of the sport. He took it up after seeing other boys training in it. Like his team mate, the sport has given him ambitions for the future. Asked how it felt to win over able-bodied athletes, he simply said, “Proud.”


The Taekwondo competitions, part of the THF Hope and Dreams Sports Festival, has just concluded its second year. In addition to Taekwondo, Baseball5, Badminton and Basketball were featured in this year’s sports festival.


The 2024 event was attended by a range of guests of honour. They included WT President and THF Chairman Chungwon Choue; World Baseball Softball Confederation President Riccardo Fraccari; Badminton World Federation Vice President Jassem Kanso; Ambassador Dong-gi Kim, Ambassador of Korea to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; and the UN High Commission for Refugees Head of Field Office for the Azraq Camp, Sondos El Nour among other representatives.


The Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation offers refugees and displaced persons the self-confidence, self-belief and self-defence benefits of Taekwondo – a sport that can be practiced by anyone, anywhere, without any special equipment.



Photo by The Korea Times - Won Suk Choi



Photo by The Korea Times - Won Suk Choi


Photo by The Korea Times - Won Suk Choi