A cheering crowd lined up, seated at tables around a makeshift boxing ring in a specially assembled marquee at the Bahrain Rugby Football Club (BRFC), as Bahrain’s first Royal Guard boxer fought his way through the audience to the ring. .
A song curated by the boxer himself to sync with his dramatic appearance, blared through giant speakers; flashes erupted and a videographer followed the pugilist as he climbed, through the ropes, into the ring.
The Royal Rumble, a charity event organized by the Bahrain Boxing Federation in conjunction with the BRFC, was now underway, much to the delight of the public. First Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports, Chairman of the General Sports Authority and Chairman of the Bahrain Olympic Committee, Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, under whose patronage the boxing show took place Friday evening, was among the VIP guests present.
“It was an important evening with multiple objectives, the most important of which is the strengthening of Bahraini-British cooperation and relations in the field of sport, especially at the level of boxing,” he said.
“Furthermore, he supported the continued efforts to develop and advance Bahraini boxing and push it for the best in the coming period, in line with the vision we set for this sport in 2018, through which we have achieved the first goal: to reach the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Our support will continue for this sport to achieve new successes.
Shaikh Salman bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Vice Chairman of the General Sports Authority and Chairman of the Bahrain Combat Sports Council, Shaikh Khalifa bin Ali bin Al Khalifa, Vice Chairman of the Bahrain Football Association, Shaikh Isa bin Rashid Al Khalifa, also watched the action. and Dr. Abdulrahman Sadiq Askar, CEO of the General Sports Authority, Faris Mustafa Al Kooheji, Secretary General of the Bahrain Olympic Committee, Captain Waleed Abdulhameed Al Alawi, Acting CEO of Gulf Air, and Omar Salman Al Sulais, President of the Bahrain Boxing Federation.
Having on board former British military boxing trainer Tony Davis, now Bahrain’s national boxing trainer, played a major role not only in uplifting the sport but also in organizing the event.
“Britain has always produced champion boxers and we hope to emulate them, through Tony’s experience and training, honing the skills of our boxers and creating champions,” explained Al Sulais.
The Royal Guard faced boxers from the British Army’s Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, who had traveled to the kingdom to compete.
Comedian and former Radio Bahrain host Khalid Doseri kicked off the evening, just minutes before the first boxers appeared, by creating an honorable impression of famed American ring announcer, Michael Buffer – whose trademark slogan is said in passing, was: “Let’s get ready to scold!”
The crowd roared their appreciation. Onstage, a battle had broken out in earnest with the two fighters, after carefully assessing each other, trading blows as they danced back and forth in the ring.
As these were mostly exhibition matches, the nine bouts were limited to three rounds each. The British boxer, who at one point bent his opponent’s legs, won the former by split decision.
“Come on, Bahrain! shouted an audience member as the second pair of boxers touched gloves. The audience erupted in applause and cheered heartily as the Bahraini boxer immediately went on the offensive, almost catching his opponent off guard. When the bell rang to signal the end of the first round, the boxer jumped into his corner where Davis, his trainer, stood ready with a towel and some small advice.
“I coach all of these boys, obviously, but there’s a couple that I’ve been closely associated with since moving here,” Davis said. “It’s quite impressive when you see how far we’ve come.”
Prior to the tournament, Davis explained that he thought the Royal Rumble would be something unique for Bahrainis to savor.
Indeed, at the charity event, among the audience, which included diplomats and other dignitaries, were two very special guests: the International Boxing Hall of Famer, Joseph Calzaghe, the Welsh legend who retired in 2009 with an undefeated record of 46-0 and is considered Europe’s greatest ever boxer and former IBF middleweight champion, Darren Barker.
Their participation in the evening was not limited to being observers: both donated their gloves for the auction that followed the boxing competition. It ultimately ended in a comprehensive 8-1 victory for the Royal Guard – after their first fighter was defeated, all subsequent boxers prevailed over their Fusiliers opponents.
The auction, led by Simeon Jackson, CEO of a well-known event management company, included coveted items such as a signed photo of Great Britain’s boxing team for the Tokyo Olympics, a signed jersey of the Bahrain Football Club, winner of the Gulf Trophy 2019. the team and the Martyr’s Rose, a commemorative pin that pays tribute to fallen military heroes in Bahrain and is worn in December each year.
Shaikh Khalid outbids everyone with his five-figure bid for the Martyr’s Rose. The other highest bids were BD 4,000 and BD 3,250 for corporate hospitality at the upcoming Gulf Air Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix and football shirt respectively.
“It was a great night,” Bahrain Rugby Club chairman Mike Cunningham said. “We are extremely grateful to Shaikh Khalid for his generosity and patronage that made this event possible.”
Proceeds from the event will support the good work being done by the Royal Humanitarian Foundation.
Featherweight: Charley Nolan (Rifles) bt Sulev Raj Tuladhur (Guard)
Lightweight: Yousif Albalooshi (Guard) vs. Liam Hicks (Rifles)
Light welterweights: Hassan Alsashar (Guard) vs. Brandon Genty (Rifles)
Light welterweight: Prakash Limbu Ijan (Guard) bt Scott Woodman (Rifles)
Welterweight: Ali Saeed (Guard) vs. Matthew Scott (Rifles)
Light Middleweight: Ariz Khan (Guard) vs. Nathan Darcy (Rifles)
Light Middleweight: Ebrahim Abdulaziz (Guard) vs. Craig Kavanaugh (Rifles)
Light Heavyweight: Youssef Abdul Jani (Guard) vs. Ezra Webb (Rifles)
Super Heavyweight: Rasheed Mehrinfar (Guard) and Harry Scrase (Rifles)
League score: Royal Guard: 8 – Fusiliers: 1