Meet Karim Elkhattab: Turning Stone’s Fighting Champion

As Turning Stone Resort Casino gears up to once again host Boxing Hall of Fame weekend June 3, we’re also making time and space to celebrate our own resident fighting champion, Karim Elkhattab.

Today Karim serves as our Food and Beverage Operations Manager. Before his career in the hospitality industry, back in his teens and his 20s, Karim had a very different job: He was a karate and kickboxing champion in his home country of Morocco.

This career as a fighter is what brought Karim to the United States. When he arrived here from Morocco in 1994, he came to fight in the World Kickboxing Association and did so semi-professionally until he formally retired in 2004. Videos of Karim during these days reveal a lean and lanky fighter, relentlessly punishing his opponents in the ring.

“It was great exercise,” he said recently, looking back. “Lots of hard work.”

Of course, since then Karim has made a name for himself by being kind and helpful, and by serving guests.

His hospitality career has taken him all over the world, from New York City, Dubai, and Australia to the Cayman Islands and South Africa. He has worked for well-known brands including Mandarin Oriental, One & Only, the Patina Group, and Flatotel.

Karim joined Oneida Nation Enterprises in 2016. His primary goal: To help get the Turning Stone fine dining program a Four-Star rating from Forbes Travel Guide, which our team accomplished almost immediately.

“It was so fulfilling for me when we got the Forbes distinction because that was the specific objective when I arrived—you could say it’s why I was hired,” he said, noting that six years is the longest he’s ever worked at one place in a while. “Since then, I have been trying to keep up the excellence, and make sure every day we’re doing something better.”

Today in addition to his role at Turning Stone, Karim has an important job at home: Playing father to his 2-year-old twins.

Would Karim get back in the ring to help celebrate Boxing Hall of Fame weekend? He hasn’t said no.

Really, however, it depends on who he’d fight. After years of watching Mike Tyson and Shane Mosley, Karim said there’s no way he could fight either of these two champs. Karim got to meet both fighters at our last Boxing Hall of Fame event, and he reported that simply meeting them was an experience he will never forget.

“You never dream you’re going to meet your idols, and then one day, all of a sudden, I was able to meet them and talk to them,” he said. “It was an incredible memory I’ll have forever.”


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