Annie ‘The Lioness’ Aroyan steps back into the ring in Dubai with an eye on becoming world champion

Annie ‘The Lioness’ Aroyan steps back into the ring in Dubai with an eye on becoming world champion
On Saturday, March 12, the 22-year-old super bantamweight will step into the ring at the Grand Ballroom in Dubai’s Conrad Hotel to take on Saranyaphong Theinthong of Thailand. (RBO)
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Updated 06 March 2022

Annie ‘The Lioness’ Aroyan steps back into the ring in Dubai with an eye on becoming world champion

Annie ‘The Lioness’ Aroyan steps back into the ring in Dubai with an eye on becoming world champion
  • The 22-year-old from Armenia has had meteoric rise since taking up boxing, and on March 12 faces Saranyaphong Theinthong of Thailand at the “Countdown to the Middle East Crown – Boxing Series 3”

Few sports provide such inspirational stories as boxing. The rise of a young girl from a small Armenian village to become Annie “The Lioness” Aroyan is the perfect example.

“My mother would borrow money from the neighbours and she would give it to me and say, ‘You have to go to pay for training’,” she said. “I promised myself that I would not give up. Lots of hard things happen in life, but I keep looking forward.”

On Saturday, March 12, the 22-year-old super bantamweight will step into the ring at the Grand Ballroom in Dubai’s Conrad Hotel to take on Saranyaphong Theinthong of Thailand, at  the “Countdown to the Middle East Crown – Boxing Series 3”.

The event, promoted by DJMC Events and Team Roshan Sports Promotion, also includes a clash between Urvashi Singh of India and Halima Vunjabei of Tanzania for the vacant Women's International Boxing Association World Super Bantam belt, in the first ever female world title fight in the UAE. 

It’s been a fast rise for someone who didn’t take up boxing until the age of 15.

“Before, in 2008, I started doing karate,” Aroyan said from her training base at Dubai’s Real Boxing Only gym. “I did five years and I was champion of Armenia. Then the gym in our village got closed down. So I had to go to another city to continue my karate training.

“There, they had karate and boxing training next to each other. I felt more of a connection with boxing, so I said I want to move to boxing. My mom said: ‘Why? you are already a blue belt.’ But I said no, I can feel that in boxing I can grow more.”

It didn’t take her long to make her mark on the amateur boxing scene in her country.

“In 2015, after six months, I become the champion of Armenia in boxing. So I moved to national team. And from then, I started thinking I would reach a high level because even my parents and coaches were saying: ‘You’re made for boxing, you have long arms, you are tall for your weight’, and I have good power.”

“I participated in Bulgaria in 2017, and in 2019 I participated in World Championship in Russia. I was a three-time Armenian champion, junior and youth in 2015, 2016 and 2017.”

None of this would have happened without the support and faith of her family, Aroyan said.

“Whatever I say, they never say no. I am not from a rich family and sometimes, to be honest, we don’t have the money.”

“My mom is the biggest supporter and she is the reason I’m in Dubai and boxing,” she said. “I came here to Dubai and I trained here for a few days. And she said, stay here and make your life. I thank my mother for her efforts and support. She always supported me, and my father, my brother always supported me, as well.”

The hard work and sacrifices paid off. Aroyan amassed more than 70 amateur fights, before turning professional.

Like other boxers from her country, she had to go abroad before making that step up, moving to Dubai in 2019.

“In Armenia there was no professional boxing. I always watched our boxers like Arthur Abraham, Vic Darchinyan, they were never amateur, they directly moved to being professional. In Armenia the government doesn’t support boxing much. So I was thinking I will lose years by staying amateur. I decided to turn professional. I don’t know why, but I feel much better as a professional.”

She has a record of six wins out of seven professional fights, and in April 2019 she fought what is to date is her favorite bout yet, against Thai boxer Nongnun Sor Praithong in Dubai.

“It was my fourth fight, at Emirates Golf club, the opponent was very good and it was a 50/50 fight,” Aroyan said. “But I won in four rounds, and I won 48-36. It was very tough.”

She has not fought since 2019, and she is keen to make up for lost time.

“Because of COVID and a hand injury I was in Armenia, but my coach and I are now working hard and I’m ready for the March 12 fight.

“I’ve been working with my coach Waleed Din. We did strength conditioning, we did proper training, it was a proper camp.”

Next Saturday, she is fighting six rounds of two minutes each against Theinthong in a fight that could propel her toward her next goal in boxing.

“My aim is always to move one step forward, and my next step is a title fight,” Aroyan said, a target she could achieve in May. “I want to be the best in my weight category, I want to be a world champion. I’m 22 years old, and when I see other boxers, who are 30,35, 38, they’re all telling me, ‘you have a good future,’ they all see a future champ.”

She has ambitions beyond becoming a champion and, not surprisingly, they include going back to her roots in Armenia.

“My dream is to be a world champion, of course, and support my family,” she said. “After I’m done boxing, I want to be a promoter, I want to help kids from my country turn professional.”


Hard work for Halep in Toronto WTA win over Gauff

Hard work for Halep in Toronto WTA win over Gauff
Updated 51 min 44 sec ago

Hard work for Halep in Toronto WTA win over Gauff

Hard work for Halep in Toronto WTA win over Gauff
  • The former number one made hard work of her triumph over the rising American teenager
  • Halep needed a second-set tiebreaker to advance into the semi-finals in just under two hours

TORONTO, Canada: Simona Halep served twice for her match against Coco Gauff without success on Friday before finally securing a 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) quarter-final victory at the WTA Toronto Masters.
The former number one, a two-time winner in Canada, made hard work of her triumph over the rising American teenager who just missed a chance at cracking the world ranking top-10 for the first time.
Halep needed a second-set tiebreaker to advance into the semifinals in just under two hours.
Double Grand Slam champion Halep earned her leading 183rd match win at the Masters 1000 level. She now owns 36 victories in 2022.
Gauff fired a backhand into the net on Halep’s first match point to end the encounter and lose her eighth straight set against the 30-year-old Romanian.
On Saturday, Halep will play her 29th Masters semifinal against the winner of a later match between US seventh seed Jessica Pegula or Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.


Willian leaves Corinthians following death threats

Willian leaves Corinthians following death threats
Updated 12 August 2022

Willian leaves Corinthians following death threats

Willian leaves Corinthians following death threats
  • "Willian asked us for his (contract) termination," said club president Duilio Monteiro Alves
  • "Whenever Corinthians lost and I didn't play well, my family received threats and insults on social media," Willian told the Globo Esporte website

SAO PAULO: Former Chelsea and Arsenal midfielder Willian quit Corinthians on Friday following the Brazilians’ Copa Libertadores elimination against domestic rivals Flamengo, after claiming he and his family received death threats on social media.
“Willian asked us for his (contract) termination. We are sad not to have him anymore and also because it didn’t go the way we expected. But we have to keep those here that are happy,” said club president Duilio Monteiro Alves.
It was only a year ago that the 34-year-old only rejoined the club where he made his professional debut in 2006. Local media have linked him with a move to promoted English Premier League side Fulham.
The return to Corinthians in Sao Paulo quickly turned sour for Willian both on the pitch where he scored one goal in 45 matches, and off it.
“Whenever Corinthians lost and I didn’t play well, my family received threats and insults on social media. My wife, my children, recently they also started attacking my father, my sister,” Willian told the Globo Esporte website.
“I didn’t play as well as I expected but I was never a player who scored 20 or 30 goals a season,” he told ESPN Brasil on Wednesday.
Willian, who also played for Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine and Russians Anzhi Makhachkala, leaves the club three days after they were eliminated from the Copa Libertadores quarter-finals by Flamengo, 3-0 on aggregate.


Stage set for Formula E season finale with Seoul E-Prix double-header

Stage set for Formula E season finale with Seoul E-Prix double-header
Updated 12 August 2022

Stage set for Formula E season finale with Seoul E-Prix double-header

Stage set for Formula E season finale with Seoul E-Prix double-header
  • Season eight of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship will climax in South Korea with rounds 15 and 16 this weekend
  • Four drivers still in contention for the title as Formula E makes its South Korean debut on specially designed track

SEOUL: Season eight of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship will climax in South Korea this weekend with the 2022 Hana Bank Seoul E-Prix, where the champion driver and team will be crowned and the world’s first all-electric motorsport series will mark 100 races.
Eleven teams and 22 drivers have competed in Formula E’s biggest racing season to date with rounds 15 and 16 to come this Saturday and Sunday, and four drivers still in contention for the title at the top of the standings.
It will be the first time Formula E has raced in South Korea with the E-Prix taking place on a unique track constructed around and even looping through the Jamsil Olympic Stadium, the first world championship sporting event held at the venue since the Olympic Games in 1988.
Stoffel Vandoorne leads the way for Mercedes-EQ in a bid to make it back-to-back wins following their Drivers’ and Teams’ World Championship success last year in season seven.
The Belgian extended his lead to 36 points over nearest rival Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) during the SABIC London E-Prix two weeks ago that saw his closest competitors falter.
While Vandoorne has achieved only one win this season compared with three each for Evans and Edoardo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) in third place, Vandoorne has the most podium finishes and has scored on 13 occasions, taking the honor from Daniel Abt as the most consistent points finisher in a campaign.
Vandoorne’s last four rounds have all yielded top-four finishes and a pair of podiums: The gauntlet has been thrown by the Mercedes-EQ driver.
Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) had worked his way into closest contention of top spot, but a technical problem in London put a huge dent in his chances. The Kiwi was on track to pin Vandoorne back to a 22-point lead, but an inverter problem at the end of round 14 forced him to retire.
In third and fourth, respectively, Edoardo Mortara and DS Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne have it all to do.
Mortara topped the standings at the halfway stage of the season after a run of two wins and two more podiums in Berlin and Jakarta. Since then, the Swiss has managed only two low-scoring points finishes in New York City and a pair of non-scores in London, but he remains just five points back from Evans.
Similarly, Vergne has hit his worst-ever run in Formula E, with four consecutive blanks for the first time in the championship. While it is an uncharacteristic return from the Frenchman, JEV is the only driver in the top four to have won the world championship — twice — and experience could still earn a place on the podium.
In the team championship race, Mercedes-EQ stretched its lead in London, with silverware for both de Vries and Vandoorne.
Back-to-back titles look to be on with a 36-point margin on ROKiT Venturi Racing in second, with DS Techeetah behind the Monegasque outfit by 11 points.
On Sunday, the second race of the 2022 Hana Bank Seoul E-Prix double-header will be Formula E’s 100th E-Prix, also marking the end of the Gen2 era, the second version of Formula E race car.
The centenary E-Prix will mark three major generational leaps in EV technology and industry-leading sustainability achievements ahead of the debut in season nine of the fastest, lightest, most powerful and efficient electric race car built yet, the Gen3.


Eddie Howe’s transfer plans shaped by Shelvey injury

Eddie Howe’s transfer plans shaped by Shelvey injury
Updated 12 August 2022

Eddie Howe’s transfer plans shaped by Shelvey injury

Eddie Howe’s transfer plans shaped by Shelvey injury
  • The 30-year-old’s absence for 12 weeks could force Magpies boss to sign a midfielder in addition to expected forward targets
  • Shelvey limped out of the Magpies’ 3-2 friendly loss to Benfica last month

NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe has revealed the injury to midfielder Jonjo Shelvey could shape his Newcastle United transfer plans in the final weeks of the summer window.
Newcastle had been looking to add only two more players to their ranks with a wide forward and a young striker on their radar.
However, with creator Shelvey out for the next 12 weeks due to a hamstring surgery, Howe admits that he may have to consider building strength in that department.
“I wouldn’t say it was our main focus but it’s something in the back of our minds, if we need to do something then we have the capability of doing something in that position. But we have other positions that are more of a priority currently,” Howe said.
“I feel we have enough to cover his absence currently, but you know football, it can change very quickly. Losing Jonjo is a big blow, he’s been a huge player for us the last few seasons. He brings unique qualities in that midfield role.
“Bruno played in that position on Saturday and did very well and we do have other players — Sean’s played the position during pre-season and again done very well. He used the ball excellently. We have a couple of options but we’re going to miss Jonjo.”
Shelvey, a mainstay in the Newcastle starting line-up last season, limped out of the Magpies’ 3-2 friendly loss to Benfica last month and has since gone under the knife to rectify his injury.
Howe does intend to name the former Liverpool and England man in his 25-man Premier League squad for the first half the season, despite the fact he may only be able to play a handful of matches.
“It was quite a complex one,” said Howe of the 30-year-old’s injury.
“We had a number of scans and opinions because we wanted to make the right call. It wasn’t a clear or simple injury.
“He’s had an operation and is expected to be out around 12 weeks. He was very disappointed obviously, he worked very hard in pre-season and looked in really good physical shape.
“It was a real shame for him and for us but he’s on the road to recovery now and is in a much better place after the operation and before mentally. We’re looking forward to getting him back.”
While some fans are starting to get anxious about Newcastle’s lack of transfer action, Howe is not.
Newcastle have not signed any senior players since July 1 when Sven Botman was brought in from Lille for a fee of $36 million.
“I’m never relaxed. I’d love to bring somebody in or players in we feel can benefit the group and add to what we have. But, I’m not anxious about that currently,” said the Newcastle head coach.
“The squad is in a very good place, very confident. There’s a good feel about the group, good dynamic internally. We still have time.”
Asked if anything is imminent on the transfer front, with talk of Brazilian Lucas Paqueta again surfacing in recent days, Howe said: “I’m sorry to keep giving you the same answers, I want to give you a different response but I can’t. We’re no closer currently but hopefully in the next week or so, it might be different.”
For Newcastle to sign players, they would have to trim some senior players from their ranks.
The likes of Matt Ritchie, Karl Darlow, Matty Longstaff and Jamal Lewis could all be shown the door to free up space in United’s 25.
On outgoings, Howe said: “I’d say, the squad is and has been very consistent during training. Our numbers have been 21 or 22, which is where we want to be really, depending on knocks and injuries. I certainly wouldn’t want to be any weaker than that. I’d be reluctant to let anyone go currently without bringing someone in.
“With the younger guys that don’t currently train with us, we would be open for anybody to go if the loan was right for them but there is a couple of players I’d probably want to hold back who I feel could be part of our season next year.
“I do encourage the loan market — we see what it did for Elliot Anderson last year. It’s something I do passionately believe in, getting that experience under their belts will do them the world of good.”


Tuchel reveals ‘bond’ with Aubameyang amid Chelsea rumors

Tuchel reveals ‘bond’ with Aubameyang amid Chelsea rumors
Updated 12 August 2022

Tuchel reveals ‘bond’ with Aubameyang amid Chelsea rumors

Tuchel reveals ‘bond’ with Aubameyang amid Chelsea rumors
  • The Blues are looking to reinforce their forward line after the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner
  • "This is totally separate from anything that is happening now, but I enjoyed a lot working with Auba while I was at Dortmund," said Tuchel

LONDON: Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said he will always have a “close bond” with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as speculation links the Barcelona forward with a move to Stamford Bridge.
The Blues are looking to reinforce their forward line after the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner.
Aubameyang, who only joined Barcelona in January, would appear to fit the bill with both Premier League experience from four years at Arsenal and the time he spent under Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund.
The Gabon international scored 79 goals in 95 appearances under Tuchel.
“This is totally separate from anything that is happening now, but I enjoyed a lot working with Auba while I was at Dortmund,” said Tuchel on Friday at his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s visit of Tottenham.
“Some players stay your players because you were very, very close, and Auba is one of those players.
“There was always straight away this close bond. They always stay your players in a way.”
A behind-the-scenes documentary on Arsenal’s 2021/22 season has revealed the scale of disciplinary breaches that saw Mikel Arteta freeze Aubameyang out of the Gunners’ first-team squad.
However, Tuchel said “there was never an issue” with Aubameyang’s discipline during their time in Germany.
Chelsea have also been linked with big money moves for Leicester defender Wesley Fofana and Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong as new owner Todd Boehly looks to put his stamp on the club.
“You don’t always get what you wish for, that’s why we’re calm and ambitious at the same time,” added Tuchel.
“It needs to be possible, we’re looking for top quality, personality and good characters.”
Tuchel also confirmed that Marcos Alonso is on his way to Barcelona to become the sixth signing of an incredible window for the Catalan giants despite their financial struggles.