Hammous use wrestling to strengthen brotherly bond

North Kitsap brothers Sofian and Zakaria Hammou are two of the best high school wrestlers in the state. Sofian won the 220-pound 2A state championship last season while Zakaria finished second in the 170-pound class.

They are off to a hot start this season, too. Sofian won the 285-pound division at the huge Hammerhead Invitational, one of the toughest wrestling tournaments in the state held at Kitsap Sun Pavilion. Zakaria finished third in the 195-pound class. Trackwrestling lists Sofian’s high school record as 30-2 while Zakaria is not listed. However, he has finished in the top three in every bracket he has ever been in.

Neither brother even thought about wrestling when they were younger, until neighbor and head coach Robert Gomez invited them to turn out. “We started wrestling about seven years ago,” Zakaria said. “I was about seven years old, and Sofian was about 10. Coach Gomez drafted us through our dad.”

They aren’t the only two Hammous to wrestle. Their oldest brother Adam was the first, competing his senior year with the Vikings in 2017 and reaching the Mat Classic state tournament. He is also an assistant coach for the Vikings. Another older brother, Nouh, finished fourth at the Mat Classic in 2019 and second in 2020 in the 2A 195-pound class.

“Their work ethic is great. Their family is great and humble,” Gomez said. “They are great kids all around.”

Nouh said, “We have always had two brothers wrestling at North Kitsap at the same time. It provides mental support having your brothers around at practices and tournaments.”

Besides growing up in a wrestling family, the Hammou brothers have grown their sibling bond through the sport. “It has brought us closer as a family,” Sofian said. “We have times where we need to be rooting for each other when there is a match. At home, when there are two brothers who never have the chance to root for each other, then they will not grow their bond together.”

The two usually support each other quietly. If one is cutting weight, the other will run alongside them and not eat around the other. But like all siblings, they can have their moments. “They are always getting after it in the practice room and don’t like losing to each other,” Gomez said. “I have to separate them sometimes because it can get heated.”

But they always make peace in the end. “Their bond is unbreakable,” Gomez said. “They have no quit in them.”

Zakaria said watching his brothers over the years has helped him. “I got to watch my brothers growing up, and I still get to watch them and learn,” Zakaria said. “Sofian is a great wrestler and role model. He makes me want to push harder.”

Sofian loves seeing Zakaria grow in the sport. “It feels amazing watching him pick apart the things he’s seen his brothers do well and putting it together to make himself the best wrestler he can be,” Sofian said.

Nouh added, “Their physical strength and will to push each other are their strength.”

Unfortunately, their time together as Viking teammates is coming to an end soon since Sofian is a senior. Sofian plans to focus on his cybersecurity dreams in college, but Zakaria is unsure what the future holds for him. “It’s been tough watching my brothers leave wrestling, and I’m still here,” Zakaria said. “It’s one of the scariest things I’ve been thinking about since I was little.”

Until then, they have a similar goal and look to help each other get there. “I want to win state,” Zakaria said. “We are working hard every day, and Sofian is making me better so I don’t gas out.” Sofian wants to win a second state title. He believes he can do it with his brother’s support because “having him in the room makes him quicker at 220 and lose more weight.”

Nouh said, “Adam and I are very proud of their positive attitude, good sportsmanship and great bond that they have with their team.”

Sofian and Zakaria still have a few more months before they have to worry about claiming gold at the Mat Classic. Until then, they will live in the moment. “You have to recognize the moment when you are in the moment and not let it pass,” Sofian said.

Coach Gomez, left, invited the Hammou family to wrestle after talking to their dad when they were younger.

Coach Gomez, left, invited the Hammou family to wrestle after talking to their dad when they were younger.