How one of the 'bloodiest' fights in history sparked the boxing explosion in UAE

How one of the 'bloodiest' fights in history sparked the boxing explosion in UAE

So inspired was Ahmed Seddiqi by the 2005 Corrales vs Castillo thriller in Las Vegas that he opened the Emirate’s first fight club and named it Round 10 Boxing Club

By Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Wed 28 Sep 2022, 7:00 AM

When Diego Corrales dragged himself off the mat to deliver a stunning victory over Jose Luis Castillo in the 10th round of an epic boxing match in Las Vegas, Nevada, back in 2005, little did he understand what impact it would have on a young Emirati boy watching the fight thousands of miles away. Corrales, a 27-year-old Colombian-Mexican fighter with a hugely impressive record of 39 wins against just two losses, was on the brink of losing his WBO lightweight title to 31-year-old Castillo (52-6-1) after being dealt two blistering knockdowns in the space of a minute. As he staggered to his corner to retrieve the fallen mouthpiece, Corrales’ coach Joe Gossen yelled at him to go and "get him". And he did. Full of renewed confidence a bloodied Corrales mustered all his courage and dug deep into his resources to take the fight to Castillo, a move that brought the sell-out crowd at Mandalay Bay to their feet, sensing something special was about to happen. A hard right hand followed by a flurry of combinations pushed Castillo to the ropes as Corrales went for the kill, landing bombs that forced referee Tony Weeks to step in and end the punishment. It was one of the most sensational come-from-behind victories that the sport had ever witnessed and till today is regarded as the ‘Round of the Century' in the boxing world.

A lasting impact

Watching the action glued to his television in Dubai was 17-year-old Ahmed Seddiqi who could not believe his eyes. This was unreal, sporting drama like never before.

He was so moved by a fight that had yielded the most incredible ending that years later he opened the UAE’s first professional, specialised boxing gym in Al Quoz, Dubai, in September 2013. He called it Round 10 Boxing Club as a tribute to the epic battle that Corrales and Castillo staged in Las Vegas. One of the most specialised boxing gyms in the Emirates, Round 10 has helped raise awareness, breed top fighters and develop the sport of boxing among locals and ex-pats. The unpretentious facility offers intimate boxing classes, as well as a full range of conditioning and technique classes for the full-fledged fighter.

The home of boxing in the UAE

“As long as you have the right team, you can achieve anything,” says Ahmed of his beloved gym where he spends most of his time. “At Round 10. It’s all about teamwork. We are the home of boxing in the UAE, a genuine home. We are the pioneers. I’m saying it with confidence but in a very humble way. We are professional. It’s the right boxing mentality that has helped us reach where we are today." Ahmed, who was born into a prominent Emirati business family, has devoted his life to pioneering the development of boxing in the country. And his efforts have not been lost on the boxing world. “We are known by the top international boxing promoters from Top Rank’s Bob Arum to Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, they respect us for what we do as the region’s leading boxing management,” says Ahmed. “In terms of training fighters, bringing top quality coaches, and moulding the boxers, this is what Round 10 stands for.”

Where the best fighters train

As the sport of boxing began to grow in the UAE, the value of Round 10 grew even higher. By regularly conducting fight camps, both locally and internationally the gym helped its boxers gain exposure and improve their skills. With the guidance from Round 10 exciting young fighters like Sultan Al Nuaimi (8 wins 0 losses, pictured below on the left with a sparring partner) and Fahad Al Bloushi (9-1) have emerged as flag-bearers for other Emirati fighters, and there are many coming through the ranks.