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16 April 2024

Boxing in aid of Dubai Autism Center

By Allaam Ousman

American kickboxer Bob ‘The Beast’ Sapp and UAE’s only professional boxer ‘Arabian Warrior’ Eisa Al Dah will be the main drawcards at the Dubai International Boxing Championship (DIBC) to be staged next month.

The Aviation club in Dubai will be the venue for this explosive event on Thursday February 2 sanctioned by the Dubai Sports Council (DSC) in aid of the Dubai Autism Center.

A hulking figure who weighs 170kg and towers over six foot three inches, Sapp became a popular MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter in Japan with Pride and K-1 promotions.

However, the fighting career of the former world champion professional wrestler and professional American football player, has been on the decline in recent years for a variety reasons.

“The Beast will be 100 per cent at his best in this event,” thundered Sapp at a press conference to announce the event at the DSC office on Wednesday.

The 37-year-old from Colorado aims to revive his flagging career at the Dubai championship where he will take on a Swedish kickboxer in the main event of a card of 10 bouts.

Sapp was at the receiving end of controversial technical knockout decision against Croatia’s Marak Perak just over a month ago and also suffered a defeat in the Abu Dhabi Fighting Championships in December.

But he has no qualms about returning to the UAE and fight for a noble cause despite a heavy schedule.

“I’m pleased to come to Dubai and fight in this event. It actually fitted in rather nicely. One of things about being a fighter is you not only train your body. You train your mind and also your spirit or heart. With Dubai putting on an event, I can do all three. This is a complete event for me and I’m excited to be here,” he said.

“2010 was difficult for me because not only did I have many fights, I had many injuries added to a complex schedule. For me my career is kind of working in reverse. I was beating all the champions at the beginning and I started losing to the people I should start beating towards later years of my career. Now I hope to get some stability. I do have yet another hard schedule. This time I anticipate and and hope to train for more victories,” he said when asked to reflect on the past year.

On his decision to fight in Dubai, he said: “This was very easy. This is a complete event and goes for a very good cause. I’m training very hard. One of my weaknesses was obtaining little bit too much weight in between fights. It’s not going to happen in Dubai.”

His goal is to end his career with some incredible victories after fighting a few more times around the world.

Al Dah complimented Sapp for displaying a soft heart beneath his tough exterior.

“When I told Bob we needed to do this special event to support kids of autism, he said I’ll be there definitely to support autism,” revealed Al Dah.

Al Dah will feature in one of four boxing contests against a Mexican opponent. There will be two MMA fights, three kickboxing contests and a K-1 bout, according to Prince Amir, who is the match maker.

Head of events at DSC Hessa Al Khous said they were happy to be involved third year with an event involving UAE boxer Al Dah. “We hope he pursues his career and we hope to be involved with every opportunity with Eisa,” she said.

“This is a special event for me not because Eisa is boxing. The cause really is autism. I decided all the profits should go to autism. This is what I’m looking for,” said Al Dah who promotes his own fights and was responsible for bringing former heavyweight champion Michael Moorer to the UAE in 2008.

Sara Baqer, Community Service Unit Coordinator at Dubai Autism Centre thanked both boxers in particular and all supporters and sponsors of this event, particularly the Dubai Sports Council and EMD Sports Services who have dedicated all profits from tickets to support the Dubai Autism Center.

“This is very important because Dubai Autism Centre is a non-profit organisation. We totally depend on donations in running this centre. We cater to 46 kids but we have over 200 on the waiting list to be admitted. The whole process of today will help definitely in the new centre which will take 150 kids. We hope we won’t have much on the waiting list then. We’ve been struggling to finish our new building,” she explained.

Faisal Al Shafar from The Al Shafar Group: “We are honoured at Al Shafar Investments to have this opportunity to be involved within charity initiatives. We have known UAE’s boxing champion, Eisa Al Dah for a long time. I believe our participation as a sponsor and supporter of the Dubai International Boxing Championship comes under our corporate social responsibility to support the Dubai Autism Center. It’s our privilege to offer this initiative to the UAE’s society, particularly children with autism in order to build a more productive society”

Mohammed Abdul Wahid Al Sayyah, Property Director at Al Sayyah & Sons Investment LLC: “We are proud to be the forerunners in supporting a boxing tournament in the UAE with Eisa Al Dah, the UAE champion, amongst the first to build the sport’s credibility in the UAE. Our participation in the Dubai International Boxing Championship comes within the charity framework as all profits will go to the Dubai Autism Center.”
Masnan Adam - General Manager at Al Habtoor, Valtrans said: “we at Valtrans followed the Dubai International Boxing Championship for the past four years and saw many boxing stars and regard UAE’s champion Eisa Al Dah as one the them. Since its launch, DIBC has progressed and gathered amongst the most important boxers in the region. This year it has a different approach as all profits will go to the Dubai Autism Center. We always strive to be the first sponsor and supporter of this kind of charity initiative which aims to help disadvantaged people in our society, especially children with Autism.”

Mohammed Ali Redha from Avenue Motors: “Without a doubt, we, at Avenue Motors are proud to support the Dubai International Boxing Championship for the first time. This is our first step towards charity events, and we hope to continue with similar steps in the future. As such, with this charity initiative we are pleased to support children with Autism at the Dubai Autism Center. We are also glad to support UAE’s boxing champion, Eisa Al Dah who is the nation’s best representative of boxing, in addition to demonstrating true sport ethics through his participation of this charity event”.

All tickets will be sold at Virgin Mega Store, Time Out Tickets and selected station in ENOC and Epco as well as on www.boxofficeme.com. Ticket prices are from Dh150 to Dh550.