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.”
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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