How Turki Alalshikh turned Saudi Arabia into the boxing capital of the world

How Turki Alalshikh turned Saudi Arabia into the boxing capital of the world
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Two-time unified heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua celebrates his victory over Francis Ngannou with Saudi entertainment authority cheif Turki Alalshikh. (Social Media)
How Turki Alalshikh turned Saudi Arabia into the boxing capital of the world
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WBC heavyweight title holder Tyson Fury with Saudi entertainment authority cheif Turki Alalshikh. (Social Media)
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Saudi Arabia managed to achieve what many others failed to due to egos and negotiations getting in the way, said Oli Gabb. (Social Media)
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Alalshikh proposed the idea of a “5 vs 5” card that would bring together five fighters from Hearn’s Matchroom team and five fighters from Warren’s Queensberry team. (Social Media)
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Updated 19 March 2024
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How Turki Alalshikh turned Saudi Arabia into the boxing capital of the world

How Turki Alalshikh turned Saudi Arabia into the boxing capital of the world
  • British newspaper highlights role of the Saudi Royal Court advisor behind attractions such as ‘Ring of Fire’ and ‘Battle of the Baddest’

LONDON: Saudi Arabia is yet again making headlines in sports and entertainment, and the newest association the kingdom is enjoying is with world-class boxing. Just recently, the London-based Daily Mail’s sports editor Oli Gabb highlighted the topic in a lengthy and detailed piece he wrote on the topic.

The profile highlighted the efforts and achievements led by Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA), under the leadership of its’ chairman, Turki bin Abdulmohsen Alalshikh, who successfully delivered a series of boxing and sporting events. The matches and fights were all part of a mega six month festival, known as the ‘Riyadh Season 2023’.

“Whether you are a fan of the growing boxing scene in Saudi Arabia or not, the investment from the Middle East has forever changed the face of this sport,” Gabb wrote. He added that there is one person behind all of what has been happening on that front.

“Behind the most powerful fights like ‘Battle of the Baddest,’ ‘Day of Reckoning,’ and ‘Ring of Fire’ is Turki bin Abdulmohsen Alalshikh,” he wrote

“ He didn’t stop there; he made boxing a force to be reckoned with through promotional shows that emulate Hollywood productions, huge winning bonuses for boxers, and a significant role in overseeing major events in the Kingdom,” Gabb adding that Saudi Arabia managed to achieve what many others failed to due to egos and negotiations getting in the way.

Through his efforts and personal touch, Alalshikh is credited with bringing together stars like Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, and Francis Ngannou to Saudi Arabia.

“Athletes in the field of boxing have every reason to be proud of the work done by Alalshikh. Boxing is often criticized due to the presence of numerous intermediaries that hinder negotiations. However, when Alalshikh gets involved, matches are quickly settled,” said the article.

As an example, the report said that prior to Alalshikh involvement in boxing, rival promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren ‘did not speak to each other’. But now, they are now seen side by side as organizers and even planning matchups between their fighters.

Hearn and Warren were brought in to work together when each of them participated in the Riyadh Season Joshua vs. Ngannou fight. Alalshikh found a quick way to improve relations between them—through a face-off between their top fighters. He proposed the idea of a “5 vs 5” card that would bring together five fighters from Hearn’s Matchroom team and five fighters from Warren’s Queensberry team to settle the debate about who has the better team.

Prior to Alalshikh involvement in boxing, rival promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren ‘did not speak to each other’. But now, they are now seen side by side

 

In a joint press conference featuring all three of them, Alalshikh jokingly remarked, “I don’t like peace between them,” and wrote a comment saying, “The ultimate showdown in Riyadh! Matchroom vs. Queensberry, the giants in the boxing world, finally clash in an exciting 5 vs. 5 battle. After years of promoting their own fighters, it’s time for these giants to face off. Prepare yourselves, people of Riyadh, for a night of epic confrontations.”

Additionally, the inaugural season of the Riyadh Season tennis championship took place in December, featuring top players such as Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz, who emerged as the winner.

The report also highlighted Alalshikh’s organization of the first-ever professional snooker tournament in Saudi Arabia, the World Snooker Masters Championship, which took place earlier this month and renowned player Ronnie O’Sullivan emerge as the winner.

The tournament included the introduction of the Golden Ball and a prize of $500,000. And as no one achieved the required century break to claim the Golden Ball, Alalshikh announced after the final that he would double the prize fund for the Golden Ball in the following year and offered Ronnie the opportunity to open his own snooker academy in Saudi Arabia.

While the report also discusses Alalshikh’s success in bringing events organised by UFC, and WWE before it,  to the kingdom, he says the Royal Court advisor’s biggest prominence has been in boxing. This is only due to the high-quality events he organized and the high-level fighters he attracted, but also because of the quality of promotion. The teaser for the “Day of Reckoning” event, which depicted Joshua and Wilder as zombies in a video clip, wowed the audience. The same level of quality was observed in the promotion of Joshua’s “Knockout Chaos” match against Ngannou, where they were portrayed as video game characters.

The report argued that: “A lot of effort and investment have been made in the events of the Riyadh Season, led by Turki Alalshikh, and this demonstrates the seriousness of his approach in making Saudi Arabia the boxing capital of the world. With numerous major matches held in Saudi Arabia, the Saudis have provided significant financial support and shown seriousness and credibility in their dealings. So why wouldn’t boxers prefer to come here?”

The report concluded by saying, “While the debate continues over whether Saudi Arabia is good for boxing, the argument against it diminishes as long as the person leading the campaign delivers the desired results.”


Coach Thomas Tuchel says he’s still leaving after talks on extending Bayern Munich stay fell through

Coach Thomas Tuchel says he’s still leaving after talks on extending Bayern Munich stay fell through
Updated 17 May 2024
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Coach Thomas Tuchel says he’s still leaving after talks on extending Bayern Munich stay fell through

Coach Thomas Tuchel says he’s still leaving after talks on extending Bayern Munich stay fell through
  • “We found no agreement on further cooperation so the agreement from February remains in force,” he said
  • In the three months since Bayern said Tuchel was leaving, they have tried and failed to sign a series of high-profile replacements

MUNICH: Thomas Tuchel says he is still leaving Bayern Munich after talks on extending his stay at the club fell through.
Bayern said in February that Tuchel would leave at the end of the season, but the coach said Friday that he held talks with the club on a “180-degree turn” that would have seen him stay after all.
“We found no agreement on further cooperation so the agreement from February remains in force,” he said.
In the three months since Bayern said Tuchel was leaving, they have tried and failed to sign a series of high-profile replacements.
Xabi Alonso is staying with Bayer Leverkusen after beating Bayern to the Bundesliga title, Tuchel’s predecessor Julian Nagelsmann signed an extension with the German national team, and Ralf Rangnick remains with Austria.
Bayern are without a trophy this season for the first time since 2012 after losing the Bundesliga title to Bayer Leverkusen, but Tuchel’s team were praised for reaching the Champions League semifinals before a narrow loss to Real Madrid.
There was also a petition from some Bayern fans calling on the club to keep Tuchel.
Strong European performances prompted the club to reach out to him in an attempt to persuade him to stay, the coach said.
“Above all, the feedback after Real Madrid over this last week was the basis to think again about the 180-degree turn, but we didn’t reach any agreement,” he said. “I don’t want to go into the individual points and the motivations behind them. That is behind closed doors and stays that way.”
There was tension last month after Tuchel said he had been insulted by comments from the club’s honorary president Uli Hoeness claiming the coach “doesn’t think he can improve” the team’s young stars.
Tuchel said at the time that Hoeness’ comments were “so far removed from reality” and added: “On the one hand it insults my honor as a coach, because I think we’ve shown as a coaching team for the last 15 years that young players, especially from the academy, always, always, always have a place with us in training and that they have a place on the field with their performances.”
Tuchel is heading into his last game with Bayern at Hoffenheim on Saturday with second place in the Bundesliga on the line. The injury list is as long as ever in a season when he has rarely had his first-choice team available.
Striker Harry Kane is undergoing treatment on a reported back injury, while Leroy Sané, Kim Min-jae, Kingsley Coman, Raphael Guerreiro and Jamal Musiala are also injured and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is unavailable with flu, Tuchel said. Right back Sacha Boey has been granted personal leave.
Bayern’s two-point advantage over third-place Stuttgart and superior goal difference mean that a draw with Hoffenheim — which is seventh and chasing European qualification — should be enough to guarantee second position. Stuttgart host Borussia Moenchengladbach.


FIFA orders legal review of Palestinian call to suspend Israel

FIFA President Gianni Infantino delivers his speech at the FIFA Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, May 17, 2024. (AP)
FIFA President Gianni Infantino delivers his speech at the FIFA Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, May 17, 2024. (AP)
Updated 17 May 2024
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FIFA orders legal review of Palestinian call to suspend Israel

FIFA President Gianni Infantino delivers his speech at the FIFA Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, May 17, 2024. (AP)
  • Israel has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials. Israel says its strikes are targeted at militants

BANKOK: Soccer’s world body FIFA ordered an urgent legal evaluation on Friday of a proposal by the Palestinian Football Association to suspend Israel over the war in Gaza, promising to address it at an extraordinary meeting of its council in July.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino took the decision at an annual Congress in Bangkok, where the PFA president made an emotional plea to delegates to hold a vote to suspend Israel from all club and national competitions, accusing it of multiple breaches of FIFA statutes.
The Palestinian proposal accuses the Israel Football Association of complicity in violations of international law by the Israeli government, discrimination against Arab players, and inclusion in its league of clubs located in Palestinian territory. The IFA rejected that.
The request for sanctions against the IFA comes two years after FIFA’s decision to suspend Russia from international competitions over its invasion of Ukraine.

HIGHLIGHT

The request for sanctions against the IFA comes two years after FIFA’s decision to suspend Russia from international competitions over its invasion of Ukraine.

“FIFA cannot afford to remain indifferent to these violations or to the ongoing genocide in Palestine, just as it did not remain indifferent to numerous precedents,” PFA President Jibril Rajoub said.
“How much more must the Palestinian football family suffer for FIFA to act with the same urgency and severity as it did in other cases? Does FIFA consider some wars to be more important than others and some victims to be more significant?“
Since an Oct. 7 cross-border raid by militant group Hamas that Israel says killed more than 1,200 people, the Gaza offensive has left more than 35,000 Palestinians dead, according to Gaza health officials. Israel says its strikes are targeted at militants.
Rajoub said 193 Palestinian players had been killed, football infrastructure destroyed, its leagues suspended and its national team required to play World Cup qualifiers abroad.

‘Cynical, political and hostile’
The proposal was sent to FIFA in March and added to the Congress agenda with the support of the Algerian, Jordanian, Syrian and Yemeni federations.
The Asian Football Confederation gave its backing on Thursday for action against Israel.
IFA chief Shino Moshe Zuares said the proposal was based on motives and ambitions that “have nothing to do with the spirit of sports or the FIFA value of separating sports from politics.”
“Today, maybe more than ever, I believe that football must be a key element in healing the fractures and the wounds, helping us and everyone to recover,” he told the Congress.
“Yet, once again, we are facing a cynical, political, and hostile attempt by the PFA to harm Israeli football.
“I am holding myself back and will not speak about the true motives out of respect for this institution,” he said.
Infantino expressed extreme shock over the Oct. 7 attacks and the offensives in Gaza and said due to the “obvious sensitivity of the issue,” independent legal experts would be brought in urgently to analyze the Palestinian allegations.
Those findings would be referred to the FIFA Council, its main decision-making body outside of the Congress, to convene an extraordinary meeting in July and take appropriate decisions, he said.

 


Nicholas Pooran powers Lucknow Super Giants to dead-rubber IPL win over hapless Mumbai Indians

Nicholas Pooran powers Lucknow Super Giants to dead-rubber IPL win over hapless Mumbai Indians
Updated 17 May 2024
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Nicholas Pooran powers Lucknow Super Giants to dead-rubber IPL win over hapless Mumbai Indians

Nicholas Pooran powers Lucknow Super Giants to dead-rubber IPL win over hapless Mumbai Indians
  • Mumbai out, Lucknow too failed to qualify for the playoffs

MUMBAI: Nicholas Pooran starred in Lucknow Super Giants’ 18-run victory over pre-tournament favorites Mumbai Indians in the last game of a disappointing Indian Premier League season for both teams Friday.
The maverick West Indies’ wicketkeeper-batsman hit eight sixes in his 29-ball 75 to take Lucknow to 214-6 after Mumbai skipper Hardik Pandya won the toss and chose to field first.
Mumbai crashed to 196-6 despite an impressive start by openers Rohit Sharma and Dewald Brevis in their rain-interrupted chase.
Pandya said that it was “quite difficult” for five-time champions Mumbai, who finished the 10-team league in last spot.
“This season we didn’t play good quality cricket and it cost us the whole season,” Pandya said.
Lucknow too failed to qualify for the playoffs and ended the tournament in sixth spot.
Captain KL Rahul said that it was “very disappointing.”
He blamed mid-season injuries to key players and said that they “didn’t play well enough collectively and couldn’t come together” as a team.
Earlier, Nuwan Thushara got Mumbai off to a great start and removed opener Devdutt Padikkal for a first ball duck.
Padikkal’s partner Rahul stitched together a 48-run partnership with Australia’s Marcus Stoinis, who fell to Piyush Chawla’s leg-spin for a 22-ball 28 in the sixth over.
Chawla also removed Deepak Hooda (11) to reduce Lucknow to 69-3 by the 10th over.
Thushara finally removed Pooran in the 17th over to end his match-defining, 109-run partnership with Rahul.
He also removed rookie Arshad Khan (0) in the same over and finished with 3-28 in his four-over spell.
Chawla removed Rahul, who took 41 balls for his 55 runs, in the 18th over and finished with 3-29.
Key unbeaten cameos by Ayush Badoni (22) and Krunal Pandya (12) took Lucknow to 214-6.
Mumbai’s openers took their team to 88 before Brevis fell for 23 in the ninth over.
India skipper Sharma top-scored with a 38-ball 68 with 10 fours and three sixes before he fell in the 11th over.
In between, Mumbai also lost their best T20 batsman, Suryakumar Yadav, for 0 and were reduced to 97-3 while out-of-form skipper Pandya fell for 16.
Indian rookie Naman Dhir hit five sixes and four fours in his unbeaten 28-ball 62.
Leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi, who removed Sharma, and Afghanistan’s Naveen-ul-Haq, who removed Brevis, took four key Mumbai wickets between them.


Pakistan’s army chief vows full support for hockey team after silver medal win in Malaysia

Pakistan’s army chief vows full support for hockey team after silver medal win in Malaysia
Updated 17 May 2024
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Pakistan’s army chief vows full support for hockey team after silver medal win in Malaysia

Pakistan’s army chief vows full support for hockey team after silver medal win in Malaysia
  • The national hockey team reached the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup final for the first time in 13 years
  • The Pakistani players were also hosted and praised by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif this week

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s army chief General Asim Munir vowed on Friday to fully support the national hockey team while meeting with its players and applauding them for winning a silver medal in the recent Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia.

A day earlier, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also hosted the Green Shirts in Islamabad in recognition of their outstanding performance at the tournament, where they reached the finals for the first time in 13 years.

Sharif praised the team’s performance and reiterated his administration’s commitment to promoting sports, particularly hockey, in the country.

The army chief also praised the squad during the interaction with its players in Rawalpindi.

“The hockey team has brought immense pride to the nation, and we are committed to providing them with comprehensive support to ensure their continued success,” he was quoted as saying in a statement released by the military’s media wing, ISPR.

He also extended his best wishes to the players for their future endeavors.

Cricket has generally overshadowed other sports in Pakistan, including hockey, in terms of popularity and media attention.

This is despite the fact that hockey is the country’s national sport and has a rich history of international success. Yet, it has not received the same level of sustained interest or investment as cricket, with the disparity impacting its development and visibility within the country.


England captain Buttler buoyed by return of ‘superstar’ Archer ahead of Pakistan series

England captain Buttler buoyed by return of ‘superstar’ Archer ahead of Pakistan series
Updated 17 May 2024
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England captain Buttler buoyed by return of ‘superstar’ Archer ahead of Pakistan series

England captain Buttler buoyed by return of ‘superstar’ Archer ahead of Pakistan series
  • Injuries have blighted Jofra Archer and he has not played top-level cricket for the past year
  • Buttler says he relies on Archer who has a trick up his sleeve in every cricket tournament

LONDON: England white-ball captain Jos Buttler is glad to see “proper superstar” Jofra Archer back in action following the fast bowler’s wicket-taking return to action for Sussex’s 2nd XI.

Injuries have blighted Archer’s international career and he has not played top-level cricket for the past year.

England, however, have recalled Archer for the defense of their T20 World Cup title in the United States and the West Indies next month, with the paceman also selected for the upcoming warm-up series against Pakistan.

Archer continued his build-up to the four-game series against Pakistan by turning out for Sussex’s second string on Friday.

He was parachuted into the match on day four, taking the new ball and returning figures of 1-11 in six sharp overs in Kent’s second innings at Beckenham.

The 29-year-old, previously playing domestic cricket in his native Barbados, hit home opener Ekansh Singh on the helmet and then had him caught in the slips.

Archer will join the England squad in Leeds ahead of the first Twenty20 international against Pakistan at Headingley on Wednesday.

Buttler, who returned early from the Indian Premier League to oversee England’s World Cup preparations, told Britain’s Press Association news agency: “It’s a huge encouragement for him to be back and see him ready to play.

“Everyone knows what he is capable of and the attitude he possesses. As a captain he is someone you can always turn to in a game because he always has a trick up his sleeve.

“It’s great to be able to call on him but it’s important to manage expectations. He has been out of it for a while now so we will need to look after him and realize that it might just take him a little while to be the Jofra of 2019.”

Dynamic batsman Buttler added: “He is a proper superstar but we do have to be smart with him. It’s a jump in intensity from what he’s doing now to international cricket and you can’t really replicate it.”