I have never been knocked out during a kickboxing or Taekwondo fight but I have knocked people out - perhaps 10 or 11 since my career began in 1992. It's a difficult experience to explain, knocking someone out, I guess as a fighter you generally feel happy when it happens but, for me, it has always come unexpected. In Ghana, during my Taekwondo fights I tended to have more experience than the other guys and so I always played the normal way. I never looked for the knock-out, it just seemed to happen.
When you win by knock-out as a fighter I suppose it is considered a better win. In Taekwondo particularly competitions are usually structured in elimination rounds and so if you win by knock-out then it's better as a fighter because you get the chance to rest and come back more alert for the next fight. You usually also have less chance of sustaining any injury or pain. I can't think of my favourite knock-out but my least favourite was during a recent kickboxing fight. I weigh 67kg and fought a much bigger opponent at 87 kg. I had no fear, I did not have to accept the fight because of the weight disadvantage but I believed I could do it.
As the first round started the guy kicked me and knocked me down. The second kick I checked [blocked] but it was too heavy and I couldn't step where he had hit me. So I entered the second round looking to stop the fight. It was three rounds and coach told me I needed to stop him in this round because if I didn't knock the guy down there was no way I was going to win. I knew I was fitter than the guy so I started applying the pressure - keeping in close, shutting him off and kicking and punching him from different angles so he never knew what was coming.
I set him up on his right leg and I threw a head-kick to the left. He didn't expect it, it hit his jaw, and he went down. I stood over him waiting for him to get up to continue but the referee stepped in and I saw there was blood coming from his mouth and his teeth were on the floor of the ring - I had knocked them out with the kick. Honestly, I was shocked. I knew the kick would knock him but I didn't expect to see his teeth like that. It later transpired he broke his jaw. He didn't stay in the ring for the announcement but I was concerned and went to see him to apologise. He was sad because he had lost but we spoke and shook hands.
So it is a very difficult thing to describe. I was pleased to have won but saddened to have hurt him. I have seen him since at other tournaments and we speak and it's great. When you knock someone out you get a lot of respect from the crowd and your peers. People see you like you're made of metal or steel. Alhassan "The Ghanaian Van Damme" Okine, 35, is based in Dubai