UAE

Now is the time for boxing to make a huge impact on UAE sporting landscape

Dan Owen 10/09/2019
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The UAE now has its own professional boxer in Majid Al Naqbi

Professional boxing is finding a home in Dubai and is ready to explode.

These are the thoughts of Round 10 Boxing Club owner Ahmed A Seddiqi who is a man on a mission to plant the seeds of the sport in the UAE and help it blossom into a sustainable sport.

Boxing, for many reasons, has struggled to establish itself in the UAE – both in terms of the number of fighters but also a fan base that can support and help grown the sport at a professional level.

Across the world, countries are investing in boxing, but often at the highest level, bringing in big name fights but often neglecting the grassroots of the sport – something Seddiqi is all too aware of as he embarks on helping create longevity in the country.

“I always believe you have to have a strong base,” he explained. “Right now, what we are doing is focusing on local talent – both UAE nationals, and non-UAE nationals.

“We are focusing on small events to start with – this is something that is missing in many parts of the world, not including the UK, US and Mexico, but small events build champions. For big events, the names and the money are already there – you can do what you want, but building a legacy takes a longer time.”

Seddiqi is confident the market can mature through high quality events and some education around the sport, and huge strides will be taken in the next 12-months – with local fighters at the heart of what they do.

“We always knew boxing was going to come to the UAE, but now the time has come,” he said. “We are very confident that by 2020 we can bring some big fights here.

“But it is not just about bringing a big fight, but having local talent on the undercard, that is what matters. When you have a bill of fights with two of three fighters from your local market that’s what we see as success.”

This weekend, Round 10 Boxing Club will host the Rotunda Rumble from Caesars Palace Bluewaters – their second show of the year following a successful outing in April – with more to follow in the coming months.

“Fans can expect a proper professional, high quality night of fights,” said Seddiqi, who is delighted to have the big-name venue on board. “Back in the 70s and 80s at Caesars in Las Vegas, Sugar Ray Leonard, Muhammad Ali fought there – a lot of legends fought in that place but then it died. We are happy to have boxing back at Caesars Palace in Dubai – this is great news in the boxing world. It’s going to be a great show.”

Ahmed Al Seddiqi wants to see boxing grow from the grassroots up in the UAE

Ahmed Al Seddiqi wants to see boxing grow from the grassroots up in the UAE

Round 10 have joined forced with MTK Global, one of the biggest names in the sport, another indication this is a venture here for the long-term.

“MTK are considered the eighth most powerful body in professional boxing – this is not a small thing,” he said. “To be working with them is an honour. The reason we collaborated is we have the same vision. I had the vision in my mind to build boxing and they had that vision too. We are working together to build the sport in the region.”

Another partner on board is Hublot – a brand with a strong association with top-class boxing on a worldwide level. “They will be one of our main
supporters,” explained Seddiqi.

“Hublot has a great involvement with boxing. They work with the WBC to raise funds for retired champions, they have that involvement in boxing, they sponsored a lot of boxers. It makes sense and for me it is a dream to be able to have the involvement of a watch brand like Hublot with a professional boxing event.”

The UAE’s only professional boxer, Majid Al Naqbi, will also be on the card – something that is a huge source of pride to Seddiqi.

“The adrenaline is addictive, seeing him there holding the UAE flag as a professional boxer, the sport I love, seeing that is better than anything else in the world to me.”

For now, the sport is very much building, but with events such as this in place, the development of local athletes, and a more engaged fan base it’s clear boxing is heading in the right direction.

For Seddiqi, the growth of boxing in the UAE was always a dream from his days of studying in the US, but now, it is something that is becoming reality – but with work still to do.

“Let’s have a home for boxing and have a big event in the country with our fighters instead of always bringing international fighters, which is good for the exposure of the country but our plan is to have a national hero,” he said.

“We have talent, Arabs are warriors and this is shown through history – we just haven’t been given the opportunity to show this in the ring.”

The Rotunda Rumble takes place on September 13 at the The Rotunda, Caesars Palace Bluewaters. For tickets see PlatinumList.net

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UAE

Huge worldwide TV deal for Dubai's World's Ultimate Strongman

Dan Owen 4/09/2019
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Tom Stoltman in truck pull action at WUS last year

World’s Ultimate Strongman (WUS) collaborate with Strongman Champions League (SCL) for the biggest TV platform worldwide.

The world’s biggest strongman event now has the biggest television platform to match following the inking of a landmark collaboration deal.

World’s Ultimate Strongman (WUS) is collaborating with Strongman Champions League, a 16 stage worldwide professional League to make the Dubai-born event accessible to millions of TV audiences in over 90 countries across the globe. Showpiece channels like Amazon USA , Extreme Sports, Spike 5 UK, RTL 7 in the Netherlands and Fox Sports Asia for example , will be among the many broadcasters showing the event, which debuted in the UAE last year and will be held again on October 25 2019 at Meydan Grandstand Dubai.

The show will be aired throughout the whole season 2019/2020 , depending on the channels but there will be a live-stream available direct from the event on a pay-per-view basis. This is the latest ground-breaking move from WUS who emerged onto the strongman scene in 2018 delivering on their promises of better treatment of athletes, record-breaking prize purses, and a five star show with an outstanding competition coupled with the highest of production values.

The WUS founders said this latest deal along with a few other steps yet to be unveiled show the direction they want to head in, and the event is very much here to stay. “Looking at the demand on our live stream last year there is clearly a huge global audience that wants to watch our event,” they said. “Being able to collaborate with the Strongman Champions League now opens up an enormous worldwide television network that means people in all corners of the globe will be able to see the greatest strongman show around.”

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UAE

UAE-based Manchester City stars of the future continue development on global stage

David Cooper 28/08/2019
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Isaac Brown headed to New York to train with New York City FC

Manchester City starlets with the hopes of becoming the next David Silva and Sergio Aguero have had the summer of the lives enhancing their football education.

Five of the most talented young players from Manchester City Football Schools in the UAE have travelled to clubs all over the world as part of their development programme.

The boys – aged between 10 and 13 – were coached at Manchester City FC, New York City FC, Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan and Girona FC in Catalonia – sides all part of the City Football Group.

The players are part of City Football Schools, based in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and were chosen due to their rapid rate of progress in recent seasons.

Joshua Hoferer, who was in Japan to train with Yokohama F. Marinos, said: “It was so exciting to train with the Yokohama F. Marinos players and coaches. I feel the experience has taken me one step closer toward my goal of becoming a professional football player. This has been the chance of a lifetime for me and I’m very grateful to City Football Schools for this amazing opportunity.”

Isaac Brown headed to New York to train with New York City FC, and said: “I just couldn’t wait to get to New York City FC and it really showed me what is needed to play at the highest level. The coaches were impressed with my speed and technical skills, we got the chance to do 1 v 1s and a penalty shoot out, which I scored in. I also got the chance to have lunch with Claudio Reyna and got a ball signed by all of the first team players – they even invited me to play with them anytime I’m in New York. The trip was incredible and I’m so grateful to City Football Schools for believing in me and giving me this opportunity.”

Thomas Nesbitt and Robert March flew to the UK to train with Premier League Champions, Manchester City FC, at the famous Etihad Campus in Manchester.

Thomas said: “The facility is just the best football campus in the world and to be part of it this summer was incredible. From start to finish we really got to see what goes on at the home of the Premier League champions.

Robert added: “I have been coached at City Football Schools in Abu Dhabi for the past seven years and have supported City all my life. What was really great was to learn in-depth how the academy works and to hear from the range of coaches in Manchester. It is an important step in my development both on and off the pitch. ”

Simon Hewitt, Head of Football Operations for Manchester City in the Middle East and across North Africa, explained how the initiative was devised and future plans.

Simon said: “We are always looking at new ways to improve and enhance the experience of the players participating in the City Football Schools programme. This initiative was a very exciting one and as a coaching team we are delighted to be offering these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

“These coaching experiences are within our new Talented Player Programme, which has been introduced as part of the overall player development pathway, starting from a child’s very first steps into football.

“With City Football Group’s unique network of clubs around the world, we have at our disposal a wide range of opportunities and experiences to offer.”

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