The British heavyweight boxer and Dubai gym owner explains why he’s looking to stage his comeback right here in the city.
You’ve been coming back to the city a great deal this year to work on the Hayemaker Gym. Have you always wanted your own fitness space? Why here in Dubai?
I always dreamed about opening a gym, taking elements of all the best gyms I’ve been to, the best staff and nicest dishes I’ve had, and this is it. Dubai is the best place to have it. It’s right next door to the Burj Khalifa, across the road from the mall. You’ve got the world’s biggest and best here and I want to be a part of that. Our gym has the world’s largest Hypoxi facility – so you can do a spin class at the equivalent of 22,000 ft. We manipulate the oxygen and your body believes it’s up in the mountains and by doing so you produce more red blood cells, so you get fitter faster. This is the kind of technology that Olympic athletes have been using for years and benefited from. You can order your food from the restaurant and by the time you finish training it’s ready. People have told me that’s what they want – and who better to give it to them than me?
You injured your shoulder last year, how has that affected your own training?
Well, I’m training twice a day, and working on the rehab of my shoulder by building the bulk back, and strengthening the rotation so that I don’t suffer any repercussions.
Do you keep up with fitness trends?
Not really, I’m just doing a lot of core work and making sure my flexibility is good, plus speed work. I try to be an all-round athlete and cover as many bases as possible – when you do a sport you tend to be confined to just doing that kind of training, so I’m trying to be a bit more three dimensional in my training.
Are you planning another fight?
I am. I am actually hoping to box in Dubai. Dubai needs a big boxing event. You have all the big concerts, but no boxing events – it’s one of the most exciting sports on the planet and draws an A-list crowd. I want to look at staging a comeback fight here. It causes quite a stir in the UK when people realise I’m coming back to boxing, I draw more people than most and break box office records, so I think it would work perfectly.
When can we expect to see you in the ring then?
It might be December. It would ideally be outdoors and December’s a beautiful time of year in Dubai.
If you could get in the ring with any boxer in history, who would you choose as your opponent?
Muhammad Ali. He’s the greatest, and you always want to see how you would have done against the best. I’d like to have seen how long I could have stayed on my feet
How many rounds do you think you’d last against Ali?
Oh I don’t know, but I’d like to think I’d loose on points and that he would’ve knocked me out.
You’ve won 24 fights by technical knockout. What’s it like to knock someone out?
It depends who it is – if it’s someone you don’t really like it feels fantastic. There have been times when I’ve had to fight friends, so it was bittersweet – you’re happy you’ve knocked them out but then you think the poor guy, he’s got a family and his feelings must be hurt, but that’s one of those things – knock the guy out first and worry about his feelings later.
Hayemaker Gym Dubai, Tower 2, Boulevard Plaza, Downtown Dubai, www.hayemakergym.com (800 4293).