Along with his cousin, Abdulla Khoory, the Emirati entrepreneur founded Round 10 Boxing Club, spurred on by seeing how other major sporting events in the UAE were resonating with the public.
“My passion is boxing – I didn’t start this out to make money, but it’s turning out to be a good business,” he tells Time Out. “I was inspired by seeing the F1, horse racing and jiu-jitsu take off here and thought ‘Why can’t we make boxing big here, and do our best to bring Emirati or non-Emirati fighters out of this gym and onto the international stage?’ I wanted to create a hub, a home for fans of the sport in the UAE.”
After finding a venue for one of the country’s only boxing-specific gyms (in Al Quoz) Seddiqi and Khoory set about recruiting a team of coaches with boxing backgrounds who could give all members the expert advice lacking in other, non-specialist gyms here.
“I met three boxers who showed me what I was doing wrong,” Seddiqi says. “A lot of coaches with a little bit of experience in kickboxing are teaching boxing, but it’s a totally different sport. The technique, the body movement, the leg movement, the workouts – they’re all completely different.”
One of Seddiqi’s biggest appointments was that of Viorel Moldovan, a former Romanian fighter who had previously worked with the UAE Boxing Federation (UAEBF). He and his fellow coaches offer more than 20 boxing classes a week to people from all walks of life, schooling them in the finer points of the sport. And as Seddiqi points out, you don’t have to dream of being a world champion to get something out of it.
“It is one of the best workouts to increase your fitness, release stress and work on muscles that you hardly use in weightlifting or CrossFit,” he says.“It’s also a great way to lose weight. We don’t have a single treadmill or cycling machine in the gym. We train everyone like boxers would train and it’s a very sociable, friendly environment here.”
For those who want to take the fight game more seriously, though, Round 10’s co-founder will back you to the hilt and has even offered those who can’t afford the training, but have shown some dedication and raw talent, sessions for free.
Last month, some of the gym’s top prospects were given the chance to showcase their potential at “The Fight”, a professional boxing night arranged in collaboration with sponsors, which went down a storm.
Seddiqi wants such events to become a more regular fixture and is in talks with European promoters to put on some intercontinental clashes in the city.“We know we’re not going to have a world title fight here immediately, but we want to grow the love of the sport in everyone,” he says. “If we, as a group who are passionate about boxing, can’t grow the sport here, no-one can.”
Once part of the UAEBF, himself, Seddiqi believes the sport is lacking the direction necessary to help local boxers climb the amateur and professional ladders.“[The UAEBF] are doing their job but not to a level that is going to have our boxers making it to the Olympics, no way,” he says. “From what I have seen, the boxers have four or five fights a year – ten maximum – and that’s nothing. If you only fight ten times a year there’s no way they could reach the level of boxers from other countries.”
He has a definite game plan for one of his more exciting charges, Majid Al Naqbi, an Emirati who travels over from Khorfakkan for each session. Seddiqi believes such dedication could see him become a full-time pro within the next three years.
And while he ideally wants to concentrate on Round 10’s fighters, he would welcome potential stars from all over the UAE. That includes you. Seconds out, Round 10...
From Dhs100 per class. 364/19 Street, Al Quoz (behind Times Square Center). For a free trial visit www.round10boxing.com (04 338 0101).
TOP ROUND 10 CLASSES
Bit cardio (interval training) This medium-intensity class uses an enhanced form of interval training specifically to build up your anaerobic and aerobic capacity. Aims to improve your cardiovascular strength meaning you won’t be out of puff in the ring. Burns up to 900 calories.
Boxing circuit (traditional) Focused on conventional workouts such as skipping and shadow boxing, this session allows enthusiasts to improve themselves physically, as well as motivating them to develop specific ring skills. Burns up to 1,100 calories
Power boxing (strength building) An authentic boxing workout using weights that focuses on power and strength. This 60-minute, high-intensity session will help fire up your heart rate and get the endorphins flowing, setting you up nicely for the day ahead. Burns up to 1,100 calories