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The inaugural Union Wrestling Cup was held at Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Arena. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Fujairah Martial Arts Club topped the medal rankings as the inaugural Union Wrestling Cup kicked off in grandeur at Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Arena on Wednesday. The first-of-its-kind event, organised by the UAE Wrestling Federation, featured intense competition in two categories: Motaraha — an Emirati traditional wrestling — and freestyle wrestling.

Sharjah Self Defence took the second place while Khorfakkan Club came third. The tournament attracted 272 athletes from six different clubs competing across categories. The Motaraha competitions attracted 52 players, in under 75kg, under 85kg, and the open weight (over 85kg) categories.

Talal Al Hashemi, member of the UAE Wrestling Federation, said: “We are pleased to launch the Union Wrestling Cup with the participation of players from all over the country and different nationalities. Today we concluded the fights for the under-15 category, and tomorrow we are preparing to host the fights for the under-17 category.”

He added, “Motaraha is strongly linked to the Emirati heritage, and was officially recognised by the United World Wrestling as one of the types of heritage wrestling. Today’s competitions witnessed good participation and received remarkable attendance from the public, especially school students who came to attend the fights and explore the fight closely. We wish success to all participants. We look forward to organising more successful tournaments under the UAE Wrestling Federation.”

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The Motaraha competitions attracted 52 players, in under 75kg, under 85kg, and the open weight (over 85kg) categories. Image Credit: Supplied

Ali Muhammad Al Najjar, competing in the 83kg weight category, secured victory in four fights, earning gold in his category. He said, “I was determined to undergo rigorous training to approach the fights with strength and meet the challenge head-on. I extend my gratitude to the administration and coaches at the Sharjah Self Defence Club for their support in accomplishing this feat.”

The Motaraha bouts saw Ibrahim Rashid Suleiman Al Shamsi winning first place in the under 75kg category, followed by Abdullah Mohammed Abdul Mohsen Al Asiri in second place, while Hamad Jaafar Abdul Aziz Al Jallaf came third. In the under-85 weight category, Hazza Jaafar Abdulaziz Al Jallaf took first place, followed by Matar Muhammad Bakhit Al-Nuaimi and Mansour Omar Salem Al-Buraiki in second and third places respectively.

Strength and concentration

Ibrahim Al Shamsi said: “I am pleased to win the first official championship for traditional wrestling in the country. I have been practicing the sport for a long time, but it was on a popular scale. Despite this, it requires a lot of experience and training and depends greatly on the player’s strength and concentration, and it is carried out exclusively on a sandy surface, which increases the challenge.”

Hazza Al Jallaf said: “I am very happy with this victory, especially since it is a heritage tournament held for the first time at this level in the country. I spent several months training for fights and benefited from my experience as a boxer in executing some manoeuvres to knock down the opponent because it depends on flexibility and strength.”

UFC Champion Islam Makhachev was seen interacting with fans and participants. He said: “Happy to be here in Abu Dhabi for the first wrestling event. In my opinion, this event is for the younger generations and kids. In our country, Dagestan, Khabib, and I, everyone begins with wrestling. The sport of wrestling will make your body strong and prepare you for any other sport. If you start with wrestling, in my opinion, you can excel in any sport. I wish the very best for the kids.”