Former two-time boxing champion Amir Khan to oversee transformation of sport in Middle East

Former two-time boxing champion Amir Khan to oversee transformation of sport in Middle East
Former two-time boxing champion Amir Khan will set up a base in the UAE to carry out future sporting and business ventures. (AFP file photo))
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Updated 02 November 2020

Former two-time boxing champion Amir Khan to oversee transformation of sport in Middle East

Former two-time boxing champion Amir Khan to oversee transformation of sport in Middle East
  • ‘Incredible and historic project to establish and develop boxing in the region’
  • Amir Khan to set up a base in the UAE to carry out future sporting and business ventures

DUBAI: Two-time boxing world champion Amir Khan is set to transform boxing in the region after being named president of the newly formed World Boxing Council (WBC) Middle East Boxing Council, and will now oversee the first ever structured boxing governing body with a commitment to developing the sport for future generations.

The WBC president Mauricio Sulaimán announced last month that Khan, who spends long stretches of the year in the Middle East and particularly in Dubai, and senior vice president Tahir (Taz), will spearhead the groundbreaking development of boxing throughout the region under the WBC Middle East Continental Federation that will see flexible and tailored development projects in the individual affiliated countries.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be appointed as the President of the WBC Middle East Boxing Council by Mauricio and the WBC to head up this incredible and historic project to establish and develop boxing in the region,” Khan said.

The project is very close to Khan’s heart as the late José Sulaimán, the lifetime president of the WBC and Mauricio’s father, expressed his desire to Khan to one day see boxing become established and prosper in the Middle East and the 33-year-old former Olympic silver medalist, with Mauricio’s blessing, will ensure that now becomes a reality.

“It has long been a dream of mine and Mauricio’s father José, who I consider a dear friend, and I’m delighted to bring our vision to reality with the aim of producing great and proud champions from the region, but to also return back to the community with health, welfare, education, through the excellent humanitarian work by the WBC Cares program,” Khan aid. “The groundwork has already started in earnest behind the scenes with Tahir, the vice president, and our team’s drive and determination to see this long-term project through. We’re all relishing the monumental challenge ahead of establishing and building the sport from the ground up.”

Khan has strong ties to the region and in September announced that he will be setting up a base in the UAE to carry out future sporting and business ventures, and will be spending his time between his hometown of Bolton and Dubai. In July of last year, Khan defeated Billy Dib of Australia in four rounds at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City to clinch the vacant WBC international welterweight title.

“We planted the seed with my fight against Billy Dib in Jeddah last year which was an historic moment for the region to be the first Muslim boxer to fight for a title,” he said of fight that took place in front to almost 10,000 mostly Saudi boxing fans. “Now with a WBC Middle East Council coming into operation, it will pave the way for big-name fighters and high-profile events to be staged there and for boxers in the region to have similar opportunities,”

“Winning Olympic silver, world titles and fighting the best of my era has been an unbelievable career, but what we’re going to achieve in the Middle East and the lasting legacy we’ll leave in honor of José, I believe is going to be the ultimate highlight of my career.”

Khan has a long-term, strategic vision for the evolution and advancement of the sport there and believes his considerable experience in every facet of boxing places him in a unique position as he oversees the implementation of the revolutionary plan and to drive it through with his unwavering verve.

The boxer, of Pakistani origin, has experienced everything in his 20 plus years in boxing from the amateur code, where he captured an Olympic silver medal in 2004 at just 17, through to the pros where he won a multitude of titles - including the WBC Silver and International belts – and two World titles, while facing the best pound-for-pound fighters of his generation.

In addition to his ring legacy, Khan has acquired a significant resume which includes heading his own promotional organization and being involved in philanthropic work through the Amir Khan Foundation which aims to improve the lives of millions of disadvantaged children around the world.

To see boxing established in the Middle East has long been an ambition for Khan which he believes is a major market with untapped potential to establish the sport and to stage major championship title fights.

However, Khan's new venture will not solely be focused on big-name fights. Through the hugely successful worldwide WBC Cares initiative, which enables boxing to give back to society, Middle Eastern countries will benefit from the experience and resources to enhance health and fitness, school and education, women’s boxing and tackling major issues health issues such as obesity.

“We are proud and honored to be involved with the WBC as we put all our energies into creating something truly special in the Middle East that generations to come will benefit from,” Tahir said.

“Boxing is becoming increasingly popular in the Middle East, whilst still a new and emerging territory, it is the ideal time for the WBC, the most prestigious of governing bodies, to enter the region and establish a structured governing body,” he added. “Yes, the big fights and getting the Middle East to host exciting, globally recognized events are going to be a huge driving factor, but just as crucial is the growth of the grass roots of the sport and we will pay particular focus on this.”


DeChambeau: Power gives him advantage for Saudi International

DeChambeau: Power gives him advantage for Saudi International
Updated 19 January 2021

DeChambeau: Power gives him advantage for Saudi International

DeChambeau: Power gives him advantage for Saudi International
  • Physically transformed 2020 US Open champion relishing head-to-head with World No. 1 Dustin Johnson

JEDDAH: Big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau believes the length of Royal Greens Golf & Country Club’s tee-to-green puts him in prime position to pip world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and claim victory at next month’s Saudi International.

The 2020 US Open champion, famed worldwide for his colossal tee shots, the longest in Tour history, is King Abdullah Economic City-bound for his second crack at taking the Saudi crown that alluded him in 2019.

He was pipped to the title by Johnson, who returns alongside the biggest names in golf for the third annual hosting of the European Tour event next month.

However, 27-year-old DeChambeau heads to the Kingdom a different golfer this year, having not only transformed his physique and game to out-drive all other professional players, but as a Major champion, after clinching the US Open back in September.

He believes these two factors could prove critical in his quest for first place in two weeks’ time.

He said: “I feel like I have an even better advantage on the golf course because it is a bit of a bomber’s paradise, and I love that opportunity.

“When I played there, I finished sixth. I have a lot of great memories about the golf course and the character of the holes and being on the Red Sea, it was pretty unique and something that I want to experience again.

“I will tell you, though, that hitting it far there will be an advantage with some of the par 5s and I think it will fit me well, a lot better than the other golf courses.”

Much of the build-up around November’s delayed hosting of the Masters was focused on DeChambeau and how the Augusta course suited his big-hitting style of play.

However, it was to be his 2018 Ryder Cup teammate Johnson who eventually came out on top, further cementing his position as the world’s best. The fact that he will be teeing off against “DJ” next month is something that only adds to the excitement for DeChambeau, as he continues on his own mission to one day achieve top spot in World Golf rankings.

“Having a world No. 1 playing puts a little fire in my belly,” said DeChambeau. “I want to go over there and play and beat him. I was fortunate enough to clip him by one or two in Kapalua and if I keep doing that, if I keep beating him in every event, eventually the tables will turn.”

In his quest to be the world’s best, DeChambeau has famously reworked his entire game — and physique. In 2020 alone he gained 40 pounds to build his strength, and as a result extended his length off the tee by anywhere from 30 to 70 yards.

Although the tournament will be held without fans due to coronavirus disease restrictions, it will be shown live on KSA Sports, and DeChambeau is gearing up to show the Kingdom exactly what he has been working towards.