Dubai: Tajik internet sensation Abdu Rozik is busy nowadays not with the mic but with boxing mitts as he prepares for his upcoming fight with fellow social media superstar Hasbulla Magomedov.
As bloggers and online celebrities are now entering the realm of MMA (mixed martial arts) for show and as a sport, pundits and influencers are saying this can be a “fight of the year”.
People supporting the two sides are also big names in boxing and MMA. Magomedov, also known as General Vgorode, has been named ‘mini Khabib’ by his fans because of his association with retired Russian MMA champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was the longest-reigning UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) lightweight champion; while British boxing legend Amir Khan is set to train and give Rozik some tips how he became a unified light welterweight world champion.
UAE organisers have offered Dh1 million each to Rozik and Magomedov for the country to host the event.
Singer-fighter with a big heart
Rozik, who was recently brought to Dubai by UAE-based International Fighting Championship Management (IFCM), has won the admiration of numerous fans in Tajikistan and the online world. He has over 440,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, with more than 6.5 million total views and over one million followers on Instagram.
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“He likes to entertain and make people happy. He is humble and thankful to get support from his fans and aims to make everyone proud. He has overcome so many challenges to be where he is. He’s an inspiration to musicians and fighters,” IFCM founder Yasmine Safia told Gulf News.
The fight will take place this year, noted Safia, adding: “IFCM brought Rozik to Dubai so that he could inspire other youth and motivate people to accomplish their goals despite challenges.”
This will be the first time Rozik will enter the octagon (MMA ring) but he is no stranger to overcoming tough challenges in life. His life has been a constant fight against poverty and stereotypes. Born at Gishdarva in the Bangkent region of Tajikistan on September 23, 2003, Rozik contracted rickets at a young age. Because of poverty, his parents were not able to afford the treatment which resulted to his stunted growth.
Rozik, who will soon turn 18, stands 94cm or three feet (Magomedov also stands three feet) and weighs around 15kg. He has four other siblings who are of normal average height.
Poverty also forced Rozik to be out of school but he is not ignorant and he learnt essential skills from the ‘university of life’. He has been known as street-smart and a fighter since he was a kid. In his younger days, Rozik would stand in the middle of a market crowd and break out into a song, earning him around two dirhams a day, entertaining shoppers at Panjakent Bazaar.
His fortunes changed in October 2019, when popular Tajik rapper Baron (Behrouz) spotted him. Baron saw a potential in Rozik’s talent and persuaded his father to allow him to pursue a career in music. The duo made a music video and the song, ‘Vatan’, became an instant hit.
Rozik has been studying Russian to pad his singing repertoire. Friends are impressed by his natural talent in singing. He has also been described as someone with a ‘perfect pitch’ who can play any song by ear.
But it is Rozik’s big heart and gentle soul that has endeared him to many people. Safia said: “Friends could attest Abdu is a very kind-hearted and forgiving person. He is hard-working with big dreams for his family. His first ambition is to build them a home in Tajikistan.”
Rozik has used his voice to stand tall and become an inspiration. Aside from singing and entertaining, he said he “would like to inspire the youth and teach them that material items lose value but integrity and talent are something that should inspire and be nurtured.”
A COVID-19 survivor himself, Rozik added: “Life is short and that we should always take care of ourselves and others. Never forget where you came from and anything is possible if your intentions are good. Never bear a grudge. Life is full of challenges but we can always find a way to navigate it, if we stay true to ourselves and follow our heart.”
One day, Rozik said he would like to have his own family — become a doting father and a loving husband — but for now he will use his mic and mitts to inspire people to fight and meet the challenges in their lives as they go along with their favourite tunes.