Mike Tyson lauds Dubai while promoting boxing gym franchise

Mike Tyson lauds Dubai while promoting boxing gym franchise

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — On his first trip to Dubai, former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson recalls getting off a plane wearing a traditional Muslim cap and robes, carrying a Qur’an and expecting to find a society strictly governed by conservative mores.

He was in for a surprise.

This is “a party place, a place you have a good time at. This is like New York City, man!” Tyson exclaimed during an interview Thursday with The Associated Press. “That’s what people think. They think of Dubai as some real strict Islamic place. … This place is so open. It’s just unbelievable.”

Speaking from a penthouse overlooking Dubai’s man-made Palm Jumeirah archipelago, Tyson said he believes a city like Dubai can show people the best of the Middle East, its people and Islam. He told the AP during a wide-ranging interview that his new project franchising Mike Tyson Fitness & Boxing Academy locations worldwide fits in perfectly with the sheikhdom’s desire to always be out front.

“People come over here and love this place. It’s just what it is,” he said. “I’ve been all over the world … and everything they’ve got there, they’ve got here.”

Tyson converted to Islam while serving prison time in the 1990s over rape charges. He said he has performed the hajj pilgrimage required of all Muslims, as well as other trips to holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

Tyson, once known as the baddest man on the planet, was known for his explosive punching and quick knockouts. He said the heavyweight world had sagged in recent years, though Saturday night’s crowning of British boxer Anthony Joshua as the new champion in his win over Wladimir Klitschko should reinvigorate the interest.

Told 90,000 people attended the fight, Tyson said “that’s what rock groups do.”

“He looks like the guy,” Tyson. “The look matters. Especially if you fight it matters.”

Asked what he’d tell Joshua, Tyson offered simple advice: “Take it very serious.”

“In boxing, you have to be more chaste than you are with your wife and your girlfriend, because if you don’t, you’re going to be in a bad situation. It’s going to hurt real bad,” Tyson said. “It may look like entertainment, but Klitschko is hurt real bad. Right now he’s in pain. That’s what’s going to happen if you don’t train and get in shape.”

In Dubai, he and his business partners hope to open franchises of his new gym. Tyson said he will be involved with the gyms and their direction. His partners offered few details about when and where they will open, other to say one should be in Las Vegas in 2018.

Dubai is more known for being a city of superlatives, ranging from being home to the world’s tallest building to the world’s busiest international airport. But sports also play a role in the city, though not now as summer approaches with its days of over 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit).

Horse racing remains the passion of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who hosts the $10 million Dubai World Cup each year. Camel races see teams jockey their steeds with robots controlled by remotes from SUVs racing alongside them.

Outside of traditional Arab pursuits, long-haul carrier Emirates hosts the rugby sevens, golf tournaments draw top players and Abu Dhabi hosts a Formula One race. Pakistani cricket clubs, largely unable to compete in their own country over fears of militant attack, play in the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, galas and glamor regularly draw soccer stars and other athletes to Dubai.

Athletic endorsements deals also are common, as famed English soccer club Arsenal plays at Emirates Stadium. In Dubai, the most prominent athlete attached to a project is golfer Tiger Woods, who designed a course being built now that will be run by the Trump Organization.

Tyson endorsed Trump earlier during his presidential run and fought several times at an arena adjoining a Trump casino in Atlantic City at the height of his career. On Thursday however, a local radio host named Kris Fade who emceed the news conference with Tyson warned journalists that “we’ll eject you” if anyone asked about Trump. Public relations officials also stopped an interview with Tyson that had a question about Trump, though the boxer described the U.S. president as “a good man” when the camera went off.

But Tyson himself brought up Trump at the news conference after being asked by a female journalist if he refused doing interviews with women.

“What Donald Trump said: Are they your friend?” Tyson said. “I’ll talk to them. Bring your friend. I’ll talk to them.”

___

Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap . His work can be found at http://apne.ws/2galNpz .

Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Saanich seals history with time capsule

Saanich will re-open time capsule in 2067

Canadian military gains valuable disaster experience at RIMPAC

Naval, air force and army personnel practise war activities, humanitarian relief

Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson set to hit Rock the Shores stage

Other acts include Bahamas, Allen Stone and Bedouin Soundclash

Croatia loses in World Cup final, Victoria fans still jubilant

“We’re just a small little country, we only have 4.5 million people, and look how far we’ve come.”

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

Royal Victoria Yacht Club sends strong presence to BC Summer Games

Oak Bay athlete Max Chapman competes in sailing this week

Non-union construction industry fears exclusion in B.C.

Premier John Horgan imposes ‘project labour agreements’ for public works

Trump, Putin sit down a bit late for closely watched summit

Trump and Putin arrived Monday at Helsinki’s presidential palace for a long-awaited summit.

In TV interview, Trump claims queen called Brexit ‘complex’

Asked the queen’s view on Brexit, Trump said: “She said it’s a very complex problem.”

Exotic corpse flower begins to emit its putrid scent at Vancouver conservatory

A unique and exotic tropical plant, acclaimed for its size and abhorred for its smell, is blooming at a Vancouver conservatory.

CREA reports June home sales down 10.7% from year ago, but up from May

The Canadian Real Estate Association says home sales in June were down 10.7 per cent compared with a year ago.

Tens of thousands give heroes’ welcome to Croatia team

Euphoria gave way to a mixture of disappointment and pride for Croatia fans after their national team lost to France in its first ever World Cup final.

Beacon Hill off to Little League provincials after big win in district final

Victoria team goes 7-0 for the week in Central Saanich, beats host team 10-1 in final

5 things to do this weekend around Victoria

The sounds of summer Rock the Shores returns to the lower fields… Continue reading

Most Read