ABU DHABI: Several boxers from Saudi Arabia won top honors over the weekend in Abu Dhabi at the UAE Open Boxing Championships.
Amateur boxers born between 1983 and 2008 — divided into junior, youth and elite categories — from the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Iraq, took part in the contest from Sept. 8 to 10.
A total of 176 boxers took part in the tournament organized by the UAE Boxing Federation in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council. Among those in attendance were Sheikh Zayed bin Nahyan bin Zayed Al-Nahyan; UAE Boxing Federation and Asian Boxing Federation President Anas Al-Otaiba; and International Boxing Association Vice President Abakarov Abdulmutalim.
Saudi Arabia’s female flyweight Hala Saleh Rashidi from Al-Ahli Club in the Kingdom won a gold medal after defeating Nissa Mahdi from the UAE. Nawaf Al-Jahani (46 kg) from Saudi Arabia also impressed by winning the first men’s junior final.
Al-Ahli club youth boxers Ibraheem Khaleel Al-Jehni (51 kg) and Yazan Ahmed Al-Ghami (57 kg) also rose to the occasion by winning gold medals.
Local fighters also showcased their talent with UAE boxer Ahmed Ali Al-Mansuri defeating fellow Emirati Zayed Al-Zaabi in the junior light bantamweight (52 kg) final.
Qatar celebrated two titles in the junior age group, with Yousef Mohammed Abdelhad winning gold in the lightweight (60 kg) category after beating Recardo Fostnela. And Ali Reda Rushan had a narrow victory over Ahmed Zeyad Sajed in the junior light welterweight (63 kg) division.
Bahrain’s Ali Bukhlaf, 18, one of the most experienced youth boxers in the Gulf region, proved his pedigree in Abu Dhabi by knocking out the UAE’s Mohammed Taha to win the youth welterweight (67 kg) category.
Jawaher Gareeb from Fujairah, who is the first female from the UAE to win an Asian Boxing Confederation medal, defeated Aletta Item in the youth flyweight (51 kg) category to take gold.
The UAE’s Amer Al-Suwaider demonstrated his technical skills by dominating the welterweight (67 kg) final against Khaled Azzam, to win another gold for his country.
Teammate Nawaf Ali Khamees (57 kg) won the Best Boxer of the Tournament award for his stellar performance, while another local fighter, Husain Al-Shammar (71 kg), came first in his weight category.
Both Al-Shammar and Khamees will represent the UAE at the Hangzhou Asian Games in China later this month.
Hassan Ali Al-Hammadi, secretary-general of the UAE Boxing Federation, said: “It is refreshing to see teams from neighboring countries travel into Abu Dhabi for this tournament. It demonstrates the strength of the sport, but also shows the need to host more tournaments that are highly competitive, well-organized and that prioritize fair play.”
“These championships are essential to the growth of the sport in the Gulf. Our boxers will not be able to compete on regional and international levels without collaborative events like the UAE Open Boxing Championships where they get to test their skills across numerous days and against numerous boxers in their category on a competitive stage.”
The UAE Open Boxing Championships was a final opportunity for boxers from the Gulf to prepare before heading to the Asian Games in China, which is the regional Olympic qualifier event, taking place from Sept. 23 to Oct. 8.