"A place where rival fighters set out to destroy each other, where legends are born, where hearts are broken, where dreams are realised."
This is the boxing ring, famously referred to as ‘The Square Jungle’ in the 1955 film noir starring Tony Curtis. Here, there is no place to hide, no back door, no escape route.
But for Fatih ‘The Ottoman’ Ulusoy it is also a place that he calls home, a place where he has fought vehemently to make a name for himself. This is a way of life for the Dubai-based Dutch-Turkish boxing and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) exponent.
It is inside the roped stage that he has confronted his best and worst lifetime experiences, many of which have helped create a man out of him and made him who he is.
But for whatever mayhem that he orchestrates, either when donning his 10 to 12 oz boxing gloves or 4 to 6 oz open-fingered mitts for mixed martial arts bouts, Fatih sees himself as a voice for a generation of fighters.
And he is brutally honest in his uniquely philosophical assessment of combat sport.
“Most boxers end up becoming a fighter because they have only one option in life … it’s a way to survive,” he says. “You don’t see many who have other choices taking up the sport.
“But there’s nothing wrong with that … boxing is great. It’s a real man’s sport. Forget about what most people think about boxing, that it’s about big, bad guys beating one another. That’s acceptable if you don’t understand the sport.
Most boxers become a fighter because they have only one option in life… it’s a way to survive. You don’t see many who have other choices taking up the sport.
“For me boxing is a science, a ‘sweet science,” Fatih says, recalling the iconic term that was coined in 1813 by the British journalist and sportswriter Pierce Egan. Egan described boxing as a sport that requires a fighter to be tough, forward thinking and tactical.
Looking across to a chess board that sits ostentatiously on the office table at Michelle Kuehn’s ‘Real Boxing Only Gym’ in Al Quoz, where he trains for his boxing encounters like the upcoming Badou Jack Promotions Knockout Night 2019 on May 3 in Dubai, Fatih expounds: “Like the great Mike Tyson said, boxing is like a game of chess. It’s a thinking man’s sport.
“You have to think how your opponent moves, punches, plans. It’s a way of representing yourself artistically. Much like a painter does. Boxing is much more than two people just beating each other up in the ring.
“For me it’s a lifestyle, a way to project your best side,” he adds.
“I fight all disciples, MMA and Kick-boxing, but my heart belongs to boxing. I also feel that I’m better with my hands than my legs. I’m better with my hands than my legs. MMA is nice to watch nice to do, but boxing will always be my first love.”
Interestingly, Fatih is a later bloomer and only made his boxing debut at the age of 31, having previous practised taekwondo, soccer, kick-boxing and MMA.
“Of course growing up we were all fans of Mohammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather,” he says. “So it was natural that boxing, even though I found for the first time at the age of 31, was deep rooted in my heart.”
The Turk, who engages you with the softest pair of eyes you would see, also reveals his love for Dubai, a city where he found his niche in life.
“My heart brought me to this wonderful city,” he says. “And here have I found what my soul was looking for.
“Dubai is an amazing city for sport. I believe that in the next five years we are going to experience something massive here.
“Everything moves so fast. I’ve been very fortunate to have part of the MMA and boxing movement which has seen such a rapid growth.”
Boxing is a way of representing yourself artistically. Much like a painter does. Boxing is much more than two people just beating each other up in the ring.
Fatih hailed the 30-day fitness challenge laid down by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, as a ground breaking initiative.
“It’s huge, it’s farsighted,” he says. “The mission to make Dubai one of the world’s leading cities when it comes to improving the quality of life by committing to daily exercise of 30 minutes for 30 days, is a stroke of genius by Shaikh Hamdan.
“Keeping fit never hurt anyone. Fitness, health, workouts, motivation should be a part of everyone’s life.”
It has been an intrinsic par of Fatih’s daily regimen as he prepares for his upcoming fight against UAE-based Syrian boxer Abdulmanem Kabbani at Knockout Night.
“He’s a good opponent, a good fighter, a veteran of sorts,” says the Turk. “I’m really looking forward to fighting him after our 2014 fight was called off.
“He’s a strong puncher, but I believe that I have the tools to defeat him.”
Fatih says that he has put in the hours for the last three months preparing for his return to the ring.
“I’ve been very disciplined. I’ve done altitude training to build my stamina and boxed for days a week at the Real Boxing Only gym to look sharper,” he reveals
“I’ve also done a lot of Cryotherapy, which is a science of subjecting your body to sub-zero temperatures in a big to stimulate and boost my physical and mental health.
“I’m at a good place now and in peak condition for the fight. I’m looking to win.”