Getting a kick out of life

He’s no Chuck Norris. But he’s getting there quickly. He trains hard and the sweat and concentration to be someone to reckon with has moulded him into a champ.

By James Jose

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Published: Sat 28 Aug 2010, 9:51 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:46 AM

HE IS LEAN but one impressive fighting machine. And instead of being mean he is always smiling. But you can sense the gravel in the gut and the sculpted body of the natural combatant.

Hassan Al Rumaithi, unlike most Emiratis, let soccer be and took up martial arts with a happy vengeance. Initially, he trained for the triathlon before he found his true calling. It was at the tender age of 13 that he fell in love with the discipline and challenges of contact sport and it has been getting better by the day.

Today, this young man still gets a’kick’ out his life. He has already fought abroad at the top league—Mixed Martial Arts was restricted to two amateur fights in The Netherlands last year, before the Abu Dhabi Fighting Championship (ADFC) came along this year. Organised by I SEE Events, the ADFC gave an opportunity for upcoming MMA talent to showcase their capabilities at the international level.

And Hassan Al Rumaithi didn’t disappoint himself or his fans and support group. The 26-year-old, who featured in the undercard, defeated Silviano Valenti in Round 1 of the ADFC.He is the first Emirati Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter and he hopes there would be many more to come in the near future.He shared his delight at being numero uno with Khaleej Times. Excerpts from the interview:

How come you took up this sport rather than soccer which is big in this part of the region?

Hassan Al Rumaithi : I always liked martial arts. So, by age 13, I started my training. I started with judo, wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu. It is because of Shaikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, I got hooked onto the sport, when he formed the Abu Dhabi Combat Club team. He picked me and my brothers to be in the team in 1998. Since then, we have been participating in judo and wrestling events.

Could you tell us about the events and titles that you have won?

I won a couple of Arab competitions, Gulf competitions. We had the Ultimate Fighting Championship UFC 112 earlier, and now the ADFC.

What does it mean to the sport in this region?

I’m happy that the Abu Dhabi Fighting Championship is happening in Abu Dhabi. That is a good thing. We are not challenging Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) but we are hoping that the ADFC will grow and go international and we will then have the chance to fight some big names.

What is your goal?

My goal is to win the title of ADFC and just go on as long as I can. My dream is to reach the level of some of the top fighters in the sport.

Being the only Emirati in the sport, what are your thoughts on more locals taking up the sport?

I want more people to train. There are some people training but I’m really hoping that they can compete because it is not easy. It is a little bit new so I hope more locals train and take up the sport.

When I train, there are people who train with me. There are two to three people but we want them to fight. So, by the time the next season of ADFC comes around, they will be well prepared and ready to fight.

Did you do any other sport other than martial arts?

I used to do the triathlon. I like the fighting spirit more. I did the triathlonpurely for the enjoyment that I dervied from it. I competed for ADCC for four years and even had some good results. But martial arts has always been my first love.

What goes through your mind before you enter the ring?

I get nervous for sure. Every fighter gets nervous but when you have a good trainer around you, good people who support and believe in you, that’s a good thing. But I get a bit nervous because I’m the only Emirati and everybody is expecting me to do well. I have to show them it is a good sport and I have to prove that we can win, they are not better than us. We can do it.

How do you cope with the pressure of being the only

Emirati in the sport?

The key is to enjoy what you are doing. Imagine you are not fighting but training. Don’t look around. And this is what happens when I’m in the ring. All I can see is the referee and the opponent, and my ears are only open for my trainer.

Who is your trainer?

I have different trainers. For Emirati Mixed Martial Arts, I have a trainer, for judo I have a different trainer and for wrestling I have a different trainer. But the main trainer who is like a father to us is Shaikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Until now, he is my trainer, my father, my everything.


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