Sport | Other Sports

Mixed martial arts: Get ready for an Arab pounding

Instructor Tam Khan has one goal: Train local fighters and make winners out of them in the worldwide fighting championship

  • By Atia Rabbani, Staff Writer
  • Published: 09:00 April 23, 2009

  • Image Credit: XPRESS/Pankaj Sharma
  • Hand in glove: Instructor Khan (in red vest) gets ready for an intense session of practice with his wards.
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Dubai - Here's a man you don't want to mess with. Mixed martial arts (MMA) instructor Tam Khan says he moved to the UAE for one main reason: to train more Arab fighters and enrol them in worldwide fighting championships. Khan, who moved to Dubai six months ago from London, says the sport needs more exposure in the UAE. “I want to represent the UAE.

I want to groom Arab-born fighters to get them in tournaments abroad so that they can represent this kind of talent from this part of the world,'' he said. A professional fighter himself, Khan, 27, teaches Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling, boxing and muay thai (a form of Thai boxing) at the World Black Belt Centre on Shaikh Zayed Road three times a week.

His classes include everyone – from people who just want to learn self-defence to those who want to become professional fighters. He trains women and men and his classes pack up to almost 30 people at a time. He adds that the numbers are “growing by the day''.

“Girls come to the classes with their friends to learn self-defence. And then there are the amateur fighters that come in every week to train for fights. It's all word of mouth,'' Khan said. Growing up, Khan, originally from Afghanistan, always wanted to be a cage-fighter.

“Although my parents are very liberal, in my community it is perceived as strange for a person to have a full-time job as a fighter,'' Khan said. “My dad is a doctor, my sister a lawyer, so I guess people would expect me to be something along those lines.''

He has been teaching for nearly eight years and was coached by the professional MMA fighter and Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner, and the first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) winner Royce Gracie, who Khan refers to as the “Bruce Lee of MMA''. And he revealed that Gracie will be in Dubai next month to pass on his expertise and experience to fight fans and students here.

“If it wasn't for [Gracie], I wouldn't be doing this right now,'' Khan said. Khan plans to open an MMA academy but he says his main goal is see a representative from the UAE fight in UFC. “I've already trained a few Arab fighters. When they're ready I will enter them in tournaments. It is time for people to recognise Arab fighters.''

Book a meeting with Royce Gracie

Royce Gracie became well-known for his victories against larger opponents in the UFC n He was the winner of UFC1, UFC2 and UFC4

Gracie will be in Dubai from May 2-3

Gracie will share with the audience techniques he used to fight and beat opponents twice his size

He will spar and interact with the audience

There will be a question and answer session

For classes or bookings with Royce Gracie call: 050-104 5008