Sport | Other Sports

Martial arts centre opens in Dubai

Youngsters have the chance to hone their skills under a former muay thai champion

  • By Rohan Alvares, Sports Reporter
  • Published: 00:14 October 7, 2010

Champion Club
  • Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/ XPRESS
  • Fighters Abdullah Abou Hamdan, Prince Amir and Abbas Mullah Mahdi at the Champion Club

Dubai:  It may have taken him a while but Prince Amir, a three time former muay thai world champion, has finally set up his martial arts centre in Dubai as he looks to turn aspiring young fighters within the Emirates into fierce warriors.

No stranger to martial arts fans anywhere in the world, let alone Dubai, Iranian-born Amir Shafiy Pour, better known of course as Prince Amir came to the UAE four years ago after bringing his career to an end in 2005. He thought he had seen enough of the ring but soon realised he was wrong. “The intention at the start was to come here and do my own thing,” said Amir, CEO and head instructor of The Champion Club.

Passing it on

“But when I came here, there were some other opportunities and I ended up doing an ordinary job. Then I realised I was missing out on what I wanted to do. I realised I’m getting older and I was keen on passing on my knowledge to the younger generation, so I can see them achieve what I’ve achieved. After you become a champion you need to see some champions to stay satisfied.”

It was only after Amir began training at a regular bodybuilding gym that the idea of opening his own centre hit him as powerfully as any punch or kick could have done. “I would meet some local fighters there,” he said. “They would say ‘Please train us and help us’. So I called them to my house. They would come to my house at six in the morning, go for a run and then train in my garden. It went from two people to 10 people and I said ‘Hang on, these people need me’.”

The Champion Club, located at Jumeirah Lake Towers is yet to undergo its official opening, but the facility is already running houseful with members including women and children. And Amir is calling on more youngsters to embrace the sport. “Everything in the gym has been designed by me because I want to do it the right way,” he said. “When I say I want to create champions, I want to start with children. The kids are seven years now. If [a seven-year-old Emirati] trains every day, in 10 years I’ve got a kid with 10 years’ experience and at 17, he can go and represent the UAE at the Olympics. Something like that will be a big thing for the UAE.”

Amir is also looking to capitalise on his vast array of connections to bring some of the world’s renowned fighters to compete in the UAE. “Our next step is to promote championship tournaments here. We are talking about bringing the proper stars who are recognised worldwide. We are not trying to do some backdoor shows or make a quick buck. Sure everyone wants to make money, but we will do it in the right way through all the connections we have,” he said. 

Hamdan just two steps away from UFC career

Abdullah Abou Hamdan, a talented young fighter who has lived in the UAE for more than a decade stands on the brink of competing on the biggest stage of them all — the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The 29-year-old Lebanese is training under Prince Amir for the Abu Dhabi Fighting Championship (ADFC) which takes place later this month, and a win will put him one step away from achieving his dream.

“He’s one of the best fighters you have in the UAE at the moment,” said Amir of his ward. “He’s fought all over the world and he’s been winning all the time. He’s attracted interest from the UFC. We’ve been talking to them. They have asked for another two wins and then he can step into the UFC.” Hamdan had been living in the UK before deciding to return to the UAE. “I came back to Dubai for one reason, because Amir opened the gym,” he said. Having held the title of Middle East Muay Thai champion, Hamdan has made an impressive start to his Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) career with five wins and one loss.