IOC excludes Russian and Belarusian athletes from taking part in the Paris Olympics opening ceremony

IOC excludes Russian and Belarusian athletes from taking part in the Paris Olympics opening ceremony
IOC excludes Russian and Belarusian athletes from taking part in the Paris Olympics opening ceremony

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - LONDON: Saudi Arabia is yet again making headlines in sports and entertainment, and the newest association the kingdom is enjoying is with world-class boxing. Just recently, the London-based Daily Mail’s sports editor Oli Gabb highlighted the topic in a lengthy and detailed piece he wrote on the topic.

The profile highlighted the efforts and achievements led by Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA), under the leadership of its’ chairman, Turki bin Abdulmohsen Alalshikh, who successfully delivered a series of boxing and sporting events. The matches and fights were all part of a mega six month festival, known as the ‘Riyadh Season 2023’.

“Whether you are a fan of the growing boxing scene in Saudi Arabia or not, the investment from the Middle East has forever changed the face of this sport,” Gabb wrote. He added that there is one person behind all of what has been happening on that front.

“Behind the most powerful fights like ‘Battle of the Baddest,’ ‘Day of Reckoning,’ and ‘Ring of Fire’ is Turki bin Abdulmohsen Alalshikh,” he wrote

“ He didn’t stop there; he made boxing a force to be reckoned with through promotional shows that emulate Hollywood productions, huge winning bonuses for boxers, and a significant role in overseeing major events in the Kingdom,” Gabb adding that Saudi Arabia managed to achieve what many others failed to due to egos and negotiations getting in the way.

Through his efforts and personal touch, Alalshikh is credited with bringing together stars like Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, and Francis Ngannou to Saudi Arabia.

“Athletes in the field of boxing have every reason to be proud of the work done by Alalshikh. Boxing is often criticized due to the presence of numerous intermediaries that hinder negotiations. However, when Alalshikh gets involved, matches are quickly settled,” said the article.

As an example, the report said that prior to Alalshikh involvement in boxing, rival promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren ‘did not speak to each other’. But now, they are now seen side by side as organizers and even planning matchups between their fighters.

Hearn and Warren were brought in to work together when each of them participated in the Riyadh Season Joshua vs. Ngannou fight. Alalshikh found a quick way to improve relations between them—through a face-off between their top fighters. He proposed the idea of a “5 vs 5” card that would bring together five fighters from Hearn’s Matchroom team and five fighters from Warren’s Queensberry team to settle the debate about who has the better team.

Prior to Alalshikh involvement in boxing, rival promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren ‘did not speak to each other’. But now, they are now seen side by side

 

In a joint press conference featuring all three of them, Alalshikh jokingly remarked, “I don’t like peace between them,” and wrote a comment saying, “The ultimate showdown in Riyadh! Matchroom vs. Queensberry, the giants in the boxing world, finally clash in an exciting 5 vs. 5 battle. After years of promoting their own fighters, it’s time for these giants to face off. Prepare yourselves, people of Riyadh, for a night of epic confrontations.”

Additionally, the inaugural season of the Riyadh Season tennis championship took place in December, featuring top players such as Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz, who emerged as the winner.

The report also highlighted Alalshikh’s organization of the first-ever professional snooker tournament in Saudi Arabia, the World Snooker Masters Championship, which took place earlier this month and renowned player Ronnie O’Sullivan emerge as the winner.

The tournament included the introduction of the Golden Ball and a prize of $500,000. And as no one achieved the required century break to claim the Golden Ball, Alalshikh announced after the final that he would double the prize fund for the Golden Ball in the following year and offered Ronnie the opportunity to open his own snooker academy in Saudi Arabia.

While the report also discusses Alalshikh’s success in bringing events organised by UFC, and WWE before it,  to the kingdom, he says the Royal Court advisor’s biggest prominence has been in boxing. This is only due to the high-quality events he organized and the high-level fighters he attracted, but also because of the quality of promotion. The teaser for the “Day of Reckoning” event, which depicted Joshua and Wilder as zombies in a video clip, wowed the audience. The same level of quality was observed in the promotion of Joshua’s “Knockout Chaos” match against Ngannou, where they were portrayed as video game characters.

The report argued that: “A lot of effort and investment have been made in the events of the Riyadh Season, led by Turki Alalshikh, and this demonstrates the seriousness of his approach in making Saudi Arabia the boxing capital of the world. With numerous major matches held in Saudi Arabia, the Saudis have provided significant financial support and shown seriousness and credibility in their dealings. So why wouldn’t boxers prefer to come here?”

The report concluded by saying, “While the debate continues over whether Saudi Arabia is good for boxing, the argument against it diminishes as long as the person leading the campaign delivers the desired results.”

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