Today, the ‘Arab Boxing World Championship’ is taking place… in Sana’a, Yemen.
And who was there to open the event? Only Yemen (and Sheffield’s) most famous export, boxing legend Prince Naseem Hamed.
Now, he might look slightly different to what you remember, but bear in mind that since his last bout in 2002 he’s been sentenced to 15 months in prison (serving 16 weeks) for dangerous driving, and has been stripped of his MBE – so you might allow him to let himself go.
Here he is in his glory days:
Anyway, the tournament is the first international sporting tournament to take place in Yemen, and there’s been much fanfare surrounding the event, with big billboards appearing around Sana’a, and tickets selling out fast.
“The event will be attended by a number of Yemeni politicians and diplomats, all keen to witness the premier event. The competitors themselves hail from Greece, Luxembourg, Albania, the Netherlands, Tunisia, Italy, France, Germany, Iraq, Spain, Belgium, and Yemen.”
The event is also being billed as an opportunity to show the world that Yemen is getting on its own two feet, being tied in with the National Dialogue. The slogan of the tournament is ‘supporting the outcomes of the National Dialogue’. I’m sure a lot of people will have issues with that.
“The president of the World Arab Boxing Federation, Dr Al-Hadi Al-Sudeiri, said that the tournament aims to present the true image of Yemen, and will be covered by 76 Arab and international channels.”
I’m personally a bit confused at if this tournament is actually ‘boxing’, or something else called ‘Arab Boxing’. According to this Arab Boxing is similar to Muay Thai and involves the use of knees and elbows, so I’m guessing it’s different.