DUBAI // When he steps into the ring, Ethan Burgess, is fearless. He knows his hooks from his jabs, his wraps from his head guards and is one of the top fighters in the emirate.
And he is only eight years old.
He, along with several others, will take to the ring in Rooftop Rumble, a tournament of fighters from junior to adult, at Wafi Mall on Friday.
"I'm excited when I get in the ring," grins the Briton. "I don't even think about losing. I'd be scared if I was the other person though."
Four years ago Ethan's trainer, Zak Taumafai, coached just one child, a seven-year-old. Now his KO Gym holds twice weekly training sessions for some 40 pint-sized pugilists.
Many of their parents, he says, want to instill them with the discipline that comes with the art of fighting.
"You have to stress that what they learn in the gym can't be used outside," he said. "They can't go out and bully other kids but on the other hand it gives them self-confidence.
"Some of these kids could grow up to be fighting champions. Many of them have the mentality already. You need to start them young."
The British boxer, Ricky Hatton, began boxing aged 10, Mike Tyson around the age of 12 and Manny Pacquiao later, at 16.
Makhzuma Alieva, from Uzbekistan, believes fighting will help her son Ashraf, eight, develop a healthy sense of competition.
"It gives them goals and ambitions," she says. "They need goals at this age so they understand how to achieve them."
She says the sport has taught Ashraf, a prefect at his school, many life skills. "It's not teaching them cruelty - if anything, he is very kind and tries to help the other children to achieve better results."
Ethan's father, Alisdair, says the children learn team spirit and sportsmanship. "It's very character building," he says.
Marieke Van Eykeren's son Roel, eight, has been fighting for more than two years. "They learn to respect each other," she said. "Roel is more confident at school and it makes them stronger mentally. It takes a lot of guts to step into a ring."
Roel, from the Netherlands, says he loves to watch the mixed martial arts of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, picking up tips from his idol Anderson Silva.
But for Hamza al Sharif, who has been boxing for four years, his idol is of the old school. "I love Mohammed Ali and to watch his old fights," says the 11-year-old Jordanian.
"He showed that when you enjoy something, you can do well, but if someone's pushing you, you won't. You can see he loved what he did. He had such good technique and trained hard."
His mother, Rana Rashdan, says it helps stabilise his weight and keep him fit. "He loves to eat," she says. "He has a big appetite and this helps to give him motivation to control his portions. He knows if he's carrying too much weight he can't fight."
The children go through the same gruelling training as their adult counterparts, from press-ups to star jumps, squats to skipping.
And when school sports day comes around, says Mrs Van Eykeren, it is clear which children are the boxers. "They are very fit and it's very obvious the difference this makes," she says.
While many parents may be afraid of their child getting hurt in the ring, Mr Burgess, himself a boxing judge, says the club's emphasis on safety puts his mind at ease. The children are always evenly matched and wear all the necessary protection, from gum shields to head gear. "They're never put up for a fight unless they're ready," he adds.
But Mrs Rashdan admits it is natural for a parent to worry. "Of course as a mother I get scared," she says, "but Hamza loves it and I'm so happy when he wins."