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.”


Qatar tests out massive bus fleet ahead of World Cup

Qatar tests out massive bus fleet ahead of World Cup
Updated 9 sec ago

Qatar tests out massive bus fleet ahead of World Cup

Qatar tests out massive bus fleet ahead of World Cup
DOHA: Qatar has tested out a massive fleet of buses ahead of next month’s World Cup, when an estimated 1.2 million soccer fans will descend on the small Gulf nation, an official said Tuesday.
Thani Al Zarraa, who is overseeing transport preparations, said some 4,000 buses will be used during the monthlong tournament, which begins Nov. 20. That includes 3,000 buses acquired for the World Cup on top of a pre-existing fleet of around 1,000, he said.
Of the new buses, around 700 will be electric, he told The Associated Press. Fans can also use Qatar’s Metro rail system.
The bus fleet will shuttle passengers between main transport hubs and the eight stadiums where the matches will be held. Authorities held tests over the weekend involving some 1,800 buses without passengers.
Transport will be free for holders of the Hayya card issued by the government, which is required for entry to stadiums. An accompanying app has a feature in which fans can plan their journeys.
All visitors to Qatar, even those not planning to attend the matches, will need a Hayya card to enter the country from Nov. 1 to Jan. 23. Cardholders will also be able to enter the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
This will be the first World Cup hosted by an Arab nation.

Patience will bring Premier League points for Newcastle: Kieran Trippier

Patience will bring Premier League points for Newcastle: Kieran Trippier
Updated 27 September 2022

Patience will bring Premier League points for Newcastle: Kieran Trippier

Patience will bring Premier League points for Newcastle: Kieran Trippier
  • The Magpies have so far been frustrated in their search for an elusive second win of the top-flight campaign
  • They head to Craven Cottage to face Fulham on Saturday looking to end that run, which has seen them draw five and lose one

NEWCASTLE: Kieran Trippier believes patience is a virtue for Newcastle United when it comes to English Premier League points and progress.

The Magpies have so far been frustrated in their search for an elusive second win of the top-flight campaign, having not claimed three points since the opening-day victory over Nottingham Forest.

They head to Craven Cottage to face Fulham on Saturday looking to end that run, which has seen them draw five and lose one — in time added on at Anfield — to see them sit slap bang in the middle of the Premier League table.

And while some fans are starting to question Eddie Howe’s new possession-based methods, which are a far cry from the counter-attack systems of old, England international Trippier is in no doubt.

He said: “You see teams now coming to St. James’ and have that low block, so we’ve just got to deal with that, try to break teams down, and be more composed at certain teams. That will come of course it will, but it’s been a big change since January, so we just need to keep taking the next steps. It’s just about being patient.

“You look at when we played Manchester City, they were 3-1 down but they didn’t panic, they kept the ball, they know they’re 3-1 down and they believed they could get back into the game.

“That’s where we want to be as a club, like Man City, like Liverpool, it’s just about not panicking, keeping the ball, keeping composed, and the opportunities will come,” he added.

Trippier returns from England duty this week having played a peripheral role for Gareth Southgate’s men. Last year’s European Championships runners up have largely flattered to deceive since their summer 2021 exploits. They did so again against Italy and Germany, although recovered from being 2-0 down to draw 3-3 with the Germans at Wembley in their final pre-Qatar encounter, with Trippier an unused sub in both matches.

On his time with England, the United skipper said: “It’s always an honor of course, going back to my debut against France, I’ve always enjoyed going whether I play or not.

“Everyone knows how much I give to the team. It’s good to see the lads, see the manager and come back with the games coming thick and fast for Newcastle.”

United will come face-to-face with former striker, and in-form Premier League frontman, Aleksandar Mitrovic when they take on the Cottagers this weekend — and the Serbian very much has a point to prove against Newcastle, having struggled for form, goals, and games in his three campaigns on Tyneside.

Newcastle, however, will be looking to two forwards of their own — Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin — to kick their campaign back into life.

“You’ve seen Maxi the past couple of games he played before he got injured, he’s shown what he’s all about, so direct, so quick, he’s impossible to play against and I see it in training every day.

“Callum as well is a natural goalscorer, so they’re two massive players for us and they are a miss, but we’ve got players who can step in. We’ve got a good group and good competition,” Trippier added.

United looked a more potent frontline force with Wilson in the team, although reflecting back on the start the team has made this season, Trippier has regrets.

He said: “Mixed feelings really, if you look at the way we played against City, Liverpool and to only come out of those two games with one point is disappointing.

“We want to go toe-to-toe with these teams and that’s what we’re trying to do, the way we’re playing is different to when the takeover happened. We’re taking the right steps.”

On the disappointment of the home draw with Bournemouth, a result which dampened the wave of positivity at St. James’ Park somewhat, Trippier added: “There was no excuse, we should be full of energy but at times in football, these things just happen.

“You have to give credit to Bournemouth for the way they played but there’s no excuses from us. Second half was a bit different; we had a lot of possession and it’s about being controlled and patient with the ball and at times we weren’t, we were shooting from 45-yards out which isn’t us.

“Disappointing, it feels like two points dropped obviously. Again, we create so many chances, we just need to be clinical to take that next step.”

United look set to be without Alexander Isak and fellow striker Chris Wood in southwest London this weekend, with both players returning injured from international duty with Sweden and New Zealand, respectively.

Better news is hoped for on Bruno Guimaraes, with the Brazilian expected to again be available, so too Wilson. Saint-Maximin is said to be touch and go for a Newcastle return, having not played since the 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers last month.


Suspected German ‘fans’ attack pub customers before Wembley clash with England

Suspected German ‘fans’ attack pub customers before Wembley clash with England
Updated 27 September 2022

Suspected German ‘fans’ attack pub customers before Wembley clash with England

Suspected German ‘fans’ attack pub customers before Wembley clash with England
  • About 100 males, many wearing masks, approached the pub in Wembley
  • Punches and projectiles including traffic cones were thrown

LONDON: Scores of suspected German football fans attacked customers at a London pub ahead of England’s 3-3 Nations League draw with Germany on Monday, injuring several people, three seriously, police said.
About 100 males, many wearing masks, approached the pub in Wembley, near where the stadium where the match was held, and assaulted customers in the beer garden, police said.
“While a number of the group were wearing England hats and scarves, it is believed they were German ‘fans’,” a police statement said.
“The group entered the beer garden of the pub and began assaulting customers, most of whom were in the area to attend the England vs Germany match. Punches and projectiles including traffic cones were thrown.
“Officers responded and the group fled. The disorder lasted for around two minutes.”
The police said “a number of people” sustained head and facial injuries, with three suffering serious leg, wrist and thumb injuries. Four people were arrested.
“None of those injured are believed to be in a life-threatening condition,” the statement added.


WarGames matches to headline Survivor Series for first time in WWE history

WarGames matches to headline Survivor Series for first time in WWE history
Updated 27 September 2022

WarGames matches to headline Survivor Series for first time in WWE history

WarGames matches to headline Survivor Series for first time in WWE history
  • Rebranded ‘WWE Survivor Series WarGames’ set for Nov. 26 at TD Garden in Boston

STAMFORD: WWE has announced that this year’s Survivor Series will feature both men’s and women’s WarGames matches for the first time ever.

The Premium Live Event — branded WWE Survivor Series WarGames — is taking place on Nov. 26 at TD Garden in Boston, US.

It will mark the first time in history that WarGames matches take place in a WWE-branded event.

The men’s and women’s Survivor Series WarGames matches will feature teams of WWE Superstars stepping inside a massive steel cage surrounding two rings. The match begins with one member from each team facing off, before additional competitors are added every few minutes thereafter. Once all Superstars have entered WarGames, victory can be attained via pinfall or submission.

WarGames is a staple match with long-rooted history in the world of sports and entertainment. The concept was created by Dusty Rhodes in 1987, with the match originally part of National Wrestling Alliance events, and later, held annually by World Championship Wrestling at the Great American Bash, Wrestle War and Fall Brawl events, respectively.

Since 2017, WWE has held the annual matches at WarGames-branded events as part of their NXT brand. WWE also held the first-ever women’s version of the match in 2019.

Since its inception there have been 39 WarGames matches but none held under the WWE’s marquee November event.

The first ever WarGames match took place at The Omni in Atlanta during the 1987 Great American Bash tour, where it was known as “War Games: The Match Beyond.”

In 1998, WCW added a different twist and converted WarGames into a three-team, nine-man competition — with the same cage and entry format — with pinfalls allowed for the No. 1 Contendership to the WCW World Heavyweight Title.

WarGames proved the ideal platform to settle famous WWE feuds.

It was originally used as a specialty match for the Four Horsemen faction under the leadership of “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, and over the years has seen legendary Superstars such as Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, Sting, Hulk Hogan, the Road Warriors, Lex Luger, Randy Savage, Bret Hart and Roddy Piper, to name a few.

One of the most memorable WarGames matches was the first, when the Road Warriors — Nikita Koloff, Dusty Rhodes, and Paul Ellering — took on the Four Horsemen — Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger and Tully Blanchard — at the NWA Great American Bash in July 1987.

The match came at time when the Four Horsemen were running rampant in the NWA, culminating in an attack on their opponents in the previous match that resulted in Rhodes suffering a broken leg and Koloff an injured neck.

The match set the tone for future WarGames, which are not only about getting revenge and settling scores, but also about proving supremacy.


Salem Al-Dawsari undergoes successful surgery as Saudi squad prepare for US friendly

Salem Al-Dawsari undergoes successful surgery as Saudi squad prepare for US friendly
Updated 27 September 2022

Salem Al-Dawsari undergoes successful surgery as Saudi squad prepare for US friendly

Salem Al-Dawsari undergoes successful surgery as Saudi squad prepare for US friendly
  • Salman Al-Faraj, Yasser Al-Shahrani, Mohammed Al-Owais continue to recover from recent injuries

RIYADH: Al-Hilal star Salem Al-Dawsari on Monday successfully underwent stomach surgery in Alicante as Herve Renard’s Saudi Arabia squad continued their preparations for the 2022 World Cup at their Spanish training camp.

The player will now undergo a period of recovery supervised by the team’s medical staff.

Meanwhile, the rest of the squad took part in their final training session ahead of their second friendly match of the week, which will take place on Tuesday night against the US at the Nueva Condomina stadium in Murcia.

The evening training session took place at La Finca Resort under the supervision of Renard, with the trio of Salman Al-Faraj, Yasser Al-Shahrani, and Mohammed Al-Owais taking part in special exercises as they continue to recover from recent injuries.