Dubai: Like most boxers, Britain’s David Haye is wont to make bold and brash pre-bout proclamations in a bid to boost ticket sales for his fights.
But Haye’s latest grandiose declarations of intent, issued in Dubai earlier this month, carried none of the spite and hyperbole of some of his customary publicity-boosting statements.
In fact, they were all rather worthy and philanthropic – and that’s without an imminent fight for the 32-year-old to promote.
“I want to get the world healthier, that’s my focus,” said the former world and cruiserweight boxing champion. “In terms of boxing, I want to see fighters from the UAE, local talent, coming through and winning world titles and Olympic medals.”
The vehicle for Haye’s health drive in Dubai earlier this month was the boxing and kickboxing training centre, Fit Boys Gym, which will open on February 1 next to Carrefour Market in Jumeirah Lakes Towers.
Haye, who also plans to open up a chain of health and fitness centres in Britain and possibly even in the UAE in the future, is in talks with Fit Boys Gym bosses about instigating a link-up whereby he would train their boxing trainers.
Marketing manager for the Jumeirah Lakes Towers-based gym, Ziad Tariq, said Haye’s potential involvement would galvanise owner and World Boxing Championship boxer Milad Saadati’s efforts to create awareness of boxing in the UAE.
Of a possible affiliation with Haye, who visited Fit Boys to give training tips to local fighters and sign autographs, Tariq said: “The potential affiliation programme would involve Haye coming here and coaching our trainers, teaching them his techniques and the way he trains. Boxers here could fight in his gym and vice versa and they would get to learn his diet and everything. This would be the only UAE gym involved in this project. I’m personally confident the link-up will happen and David seemed happy with our plans. It would be a great coup for us if he decides to agree to it this month.”
For his part, Haye expressed his disappointment that some youngsters have never been inside a gym.
He said he was inspired to attend one because his father, and role model, was a martial arts instructor.
“I looked up to someone who was physically in great shape,” added Haye. “I couldn’t go eating McDonald’s every day, or ice cream and fizzy drinks. If a kid comes to a boxing gym, they can’t eat ice cream, they can’t smoke or they can’t drink alcohol, because if they did, they’d get their backside kicked in the gym. Nobody wants that, so it encourages kids to be focused and disciplined. This [Fit Boys Gym] is where it all starts.”
Fit Boys Gym, formerly based in Dubai Marina under the name KO Gym, will be training men and women of all ages in boxing and kickboxing, with other martial arts classes possibly planned in the future.