Dubai: British former World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight champion David Haye was upbeat despite failing to break the Guinness World Record for the largest boxing lesson at Dubai Sports World on Saturday.
Around 400 people took part in the 40 minute session, breaking regional records, but organisers fell short of the 498 world record target set in Australia earlier this year.
Haye, 33, attempted the record in order to raise funds and awareness for the Rashid Pediatric Centre for disabled children in Al Barsha. He was hoping to smash the record with over 1000 participants.
Numbers will be verified by officials at the Guinness Book of Records in the coming days, but despite early estimates suggesting the attempt was unsuccessful, Haye was still positive and vowed to come back stronger next year.
“Whether it breaks the record or not, I’m not that bothered,” he said. “Obviously I’d love to break the record, but even if it doesn’t, the fact that so many people came down here to raise money and awareness for the Rashid Pediatric Centre is great.
“It was amazing to see everyone — young and old — come out and enjoy themselves. Hopefully they’ve seen that boxing can be a fun exercise tool without having to get hurt, it can also be a non-contact way of getting in shape and staying healthy.
“I’d love to make this an annual thing with more people and different sessions. Obviously, if this was the first one, it just goes to show you how successful it will be next year. These guys will tell everyone they know and we’ll have record numbers next time.”
One participant, Benita Adesuyan, 31, said there were many positives to take away from the event. “It’s not the type of thing you get to do every day,” she said.
“Having a former world champion showing you all the proper techniques is pretty special. It wasn’t just a world record attempt to get a group of people together, the fact that he [Haye] is here as well is really inspiring.
“Boxing is definitely growing in popularity here. Maybe we haven’t broken a world record today but the fact that so many boxing enthusiasts have turned out on a Saturday, is a great indicator of how successful it is.”
Another participant, Shaw Rapha, 27, said the attempt shouldn’t be considered a failure. “It comes with the territory,” he said. “People here still don’t really know much about the sport. But when they know we have a former world champion here who has a gym in Dubai and plans to fight in the emirate, it will grow. I wouldn’t call it a failed attempt, I would give it a pass mark.”