RIYADH: Boxing in Saudi Arabia continues to grow, with international exposure featuring several international fighters showcasing the potential of the sport in the Kingdom.
The “Beasts of the Middle East” event took place at the Radisson Blu Airport Hotel in Riyadh on July 29, bringing together boxers from across the region, with 11 female and male amateurs – as well as six male professionals – taking part in boxing bouts. ‘exposure.
“Beasts of the Middle East” was supported by Princess Nouf bint Mohammed Al-Saud and TKO Fighters in Al-Wadi suburb of Riyadh.
The exhibition is the latest event organized by the gymnasium and its American founder, trainer Lee Starks.
In 2021, Starks established TKO Fighters as the first-ever women’s boxing team in Saudi Arabia, starting with just four young female fighters. Since then, more and more women and men have embraced the sport across the Kingdom.
“I would like to support Saudi women in all sports. Without the help of the Crown Prince and the Ministry of Sports, this would not have been possible. I hope we can make every Saudi man and woman proud of this great goal,” said Princess Nouf.
These initiatives provide a platform for young people in the Kingdom to empower themselves and improve their skills alongside international competitors, and President Abdullah Alharbi and Vice President Rasha Alkhamis of the Saudi Boxing Federation have shown their support among the most of 100 participants in the show.
Additional safety precautions were taken for fights involving the amateur boxers, who took part in clashes consisting of three rounds lasting one minute each. Meanwhile, the main events involving the pros have seen fights between four and six rounds.
The bouts were for exhibition purposes only, with no winners or losers declared, and all entrants received cash prizes from Princess Nouf for their participation.
Several of the boxers told Arab News that boxing transformed them mentally and physically as they went through tough times in their lives. They also revealed that their love of challenges inspired them to get into the sport and keep getting better at it.
Renowned Kuwaiti boxer Noura Al-Mutairi showed her pride in her fellow GCC boxers: “I came to Saudi Arabia because it’s an opportunity a woman (fighter) can’t miss. I want to participate in this great event that represents us, the Khaleeji women.
“Saudi Arabia has taken the initiative to empower women in sport in the GCC region. We are proud to know that we Khaleeji and Arab women can do everything anyone else can do , and we can build something really big. I didn’t choose boxing, boxing chose me,” she said.
Saudi boxing and MMA champion Abdullah Al-Qahtani, known as ‘The Ripper’, showed his fighting spirit ahead of his fight.
“You have to suffer to get there. Nothing is easy. I can’t blame anyone for saying that this sport is dangerous, and that’s why this sport is for me,” Al-Qahtani told Arab News. “I am also a fighter in my usual life. As a child, you already know where you are headed. Any Saudi can reach any height in this sport as long as they train and dedicate themselves to it.
Saudi boxing champion Sara Al-Shahrani has been practicing boxing since a young age and she expressed her gratitude to TKO Fighters for the opportunity given to her before entering the ring.
“I’m good at it, it’s natural,” she says. “Coach Lee helped in practice, and I’m going to crush that. I’m going to give 200% of myself to make my fight the best fight of the whole night.
UAE national boxing champion Austine Nnamdi, nicknamed “The Magnificent Dancer”, also revealed his excitement to be in Riyadh and predicted a bright future for young Saudis who would take up the sport.
“I’m going to dance on this stage. It’s not wrong, it’s what I do every day,” Nnamdi said. “Seeing the Saudi amateur fighters, since I was an amateur myself, I can see that they are going to go very far and be as happy and successful in their careers as I am.”