Moroccan fighter wins World Champion Kickboxing Challenge in Riyadh

1 / 11
Moroccan kickboxer Sufian Al Zuraidi (right in gloves) receiving cash prize after winning the kickboxing challenge in Riyadh on Friday.(AN photos)
2 / 11
Saudi karate kids.
3 / 11
Two kickboxers in action.
4 / 11
AN photo
5 / 11
AN photo
6 / 11
AN photo
7 / 11
AN photo
8 / 11
AN photo
9 / 11
AN photo
10 / 11
AN photo
11 / 11
AN photo
Updated 16 April 2017
0

Moroccan fighter wins World Champion Kickboxing Challenge in Riyadh

RIYADH: A Moroccan kickboxer knocked down his opponent and history was created at the first-ever World Champion Kickboxing Challenge held in the Saudi capital Friday night.
Sufian Al Zuraidi from Morocco defeated Nadim Promovitch of Ukraine to win the cash prize and gifts at the prestigious historic kickboxing tournament here.
A capacity crowd at the Central Hall of the Riyadh-based King Saud University (KSU) watched the five-hour long event organized by Fighting Fit company, and promoted and supported by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) and the Disabled Children Association (DCA), an NGO which works to rehabilitate and integrate the disabled children into the mainstream of Saudi society.
“I am really happy to win the Riyadh kickboxing challenge. I have been competing for the last few years…but I really feel like I have got so much more to learn.
“It was a bit of fun also fighting in Saudi Arabia, a country which I like most,” said Sufiyan.
Sufiyan, who is in his 30s, has undergone rigorous training for this big event. He works hard especially on his own. He said that when he is home, he runs and does his workouts to stay fit. He credits his success in Riyadh and elsewhere earlier to his “work ethic and support of his family and friends.” Sufiyan won the Riyadh challenge, while Osma Al-Samari and Salman Bin Huthlain were declared platinum fighters.
Saud Al-Sheikh, general manager of Fighting Fit, said, “I am hopeful of the new developments in the Kingdom…such events would bring new entertainment options to the people in the country.”
“We will be meeting the GEA after the event and discuss the agenda; and if everything goes well, we are planning to have kickboxing twice a year,” said Al-Sheikh.
He further said: “We are working to make it a complete entertainment package with stalls and food areas apart from the main championship. Also, we want the families—Saudis and expatriates alike--to come and enjoy the tournament.”
The Friday night event as scheduled, kicked off at 7 p.m. with host Ibrahim Al-Muaidi introducing the “karate kids” displaying their skills and techniques.
It was followed by different sections of kickboxing, first for kids followed by adults. Food trucks and stalls lined the entrance gate for the crowds to enjoy. Admission was free for disabled children and adults. Special arrangements were made for them. Children representing local teams showed some extraordinary moves in the beginning of the event to the delight of the audience.
Martial arts fans enjoyed highlight reel fight techniques in the much talked about championship challenge. Apart from the championships, Saudi Thai boxing champion Saleh Al Zubi showed his moves along with Jeet Kune Do champion Abdul Malek Murtadi.
Also, sumo competitions for kids and interactive sessions with the spectators by host Ibrahim highlighted the event that was a great success.
Gift vouchers were also distributed among the audience, who participated in side shows. The event concluded around 11 p.m. Friday night with the final match of kickboxing between two world champions, which was followed by prize distribution. The GEA in cooperation with private sector is planning to stage several similar events in future.


Riz Rehman is the man with a plan to ensure Premier League passion is Muslim-friendly

Updated 3 min 5 sec ago
0

Riz Rehman is the man with a plan to ensure Premier League passion is Muslim-friendly

LONDON: The face of English football has changed unimaginably since the start of the Premier League in 1992 — not least in terms of the number of Muslim footballers plying their trade in the most popular league in the world.
Twenty-six years ago, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Nayim was the league’s only practicing Muslim. Fast forward to 2018 and there are now more than 40 Muslim players gracing England’s top flight — many of them global stars such as Mohamed Salah, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante. 
This is a hugely welcome development for the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and its education adviser, Riz Rehman, who is himself a Muslim. 
Rehman’s role involves him supporting players of different backgrounds — including Muslims — and aiming to boost their participation in football. Little wonder, then, that he is delighted that the past three winners of the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award were all Muslim — Salah, Kante and Riyad Mahrez. 
“It’s great for the Muslim community — young people, players, aspiring players and coaches — that three Muslims have won this award and that two of them (Salah and Mahrez) are Arabs,” Rehman told Arab News. 
“It’s very important because it’s created more awareness about Muslims being good at the game and sport in general. It’s important we highlight this.” 
Leading Muslim footballers’ soaring success and stardom have coincided with rising Islamaphobic attacks in Britain following the Brexit vote in 2016. Regressive attitudes toward race, religion and immigration have raged in some parts of the country, as Rehman acknowledged. 
“The biggest misconceptions are that Muslims are all terrorists or that they are all Asian and have long beards,” he said. “Isolated incidents are giving Muslims a bad name.” 
Mercifully for Rehman and the PFA, the likes of Salah and Kante are portraying Muslims in a far more positive — and realistic — light on and off the pitch. 
During his sublime 2017-18 season, Liverpool star Salah topped the Premier League goal-scoring charts with 32 goals and reached the Champions League final. His unstinting brilliance led to him being serenaded with his own song by Liverpool fans, which includes the line: “If he scores another few, then I’ll be a Muslim too.” 
Many social media posts and videos showing young supporters copying the Egyptian maestro’s overtly religious goal celebration have also been posted many times. This involves him performing sujood, the Islamic art of prostration. 
“Things like that are really helping to bring down barriers in the game,” Rehman said. 
Likewise, he cites the fact that Salah and his Liverpool teammate, Sadio Mane, visit a mosque every week after training for Jumu’ah, the Friday prayer. 
Meanwhile, only last Saturday the humbleness of Chelsea’s irrepressible midfielder Kante — who has two Premier League winners’ medals and one FA Cup success to his name — was widely hailed. 
After missing his Eurostar train to Paris, Kante — who achieved World Cup glory with France in July — was invited home for dinner by Arsenal fan Badlur Rahman Jalil after meeting him while praying at a London mosque. Remarkably, Kante duly obliged and spent the evening watching Match of the Day and playing the FIFA video game with Jalil and his friends. 
“People are more aware that we have Muslim players in the game,” Rehman said. “Players are not afraid to come out and embrace the fact that they are Muslims and showing the world that they’re good people.” 
But are the PFA — and clubs in the Premier League and England in general — doing enough to increase Muslim representation in English football? 
“I think things are better than ever. A lot of clubs are working hard on all-inclusive programs,” replied Rehman, who was a promising youth-team player at Brentford before injury cut short his career at the age of 17 in 2000. 
“We deliver workshops aimed at club staff to educate them about better engaging Muslim communities. We get staff and coaches together and tell them more about Islam, what it involves and discuss Ramadan and how it might affect performance and participation at all levels. 
“On the back of that, hopefully clubs will deliver programs around the needs of the community. There are clubs like Crystal Palace who are looking to deliver Asian-specific programs to get more Asian kids playing football, more Asian coaches and look at the Muslim community as well.” 
Rehman himself helped organized an Iftar event at League One outfit Portsmouth earlier this year, which “went really well.” 
“We also had players come along to support the day. Clubs such as Crystal Palace, Leicester City and a few others are showing an interest in holding similar events next season. 
“Leicester City are a club with a massive Asian community and we are supporting them with trying to set up some programs.” 
Also high on Rehman’s agenda is encouraging more BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) coaches into the game. As well as sitting on the advisory group for the Premier Leagues Elite Coach Apprenticeship Scheme, one key program he is involved in is “Sidelined-to-Sidelines.”
This was established by the Zesh Rehman Foundation — which was set up by his brother, a former Fulham defender — to address a shortage of qualified South Asian coaches. 
“We are setting up sessions to try and recruit young coaches at clubs like Crystal Palace, QPR and Chelsea,” Rehman revealed. “Coaches wearing those club badges become role models and are able to influence their own communities and encourage more kids (from under-represented ethnicities) to take up the game.” 
Rehman is keen to recruit more Muslim “ambassadors” at clubs “up and down the country” to emulate the likes of the inspirational Salah. 
“We want them to work with the community, local groups, mosques, and get players to actually go into those communities and build links with the clubs. It’s a two-way thing.” 
Progress has also been made in attracting more Muslim supporters to Premier League matches, Rehman added. Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion are among the clubs that have multi-faith prayer rooms to cater for their increasingly diverse fanbases, he said. 
“Some clubs sell halal food, too, so there’s something for everyone.
“It’s a worldwide game now. Mo Salah has reached out to a lot of people. I think Muslim communities themselves have to make an effort to go to matches. 
“It’s not an overnight success, but you do see different communities represented on match days, week in and week out.”