DUBAI // Ahmed Abdul Raheem Ahmed al Hosani will be hoping to strike a few blows for people with special needs when he enters the ring tonight at the Dubai World Championship for Arabian Boxing.
Al Hosani, who will be making his fight debut when he takes on Jordan's Obeida abu Sheikha in the second of five amateur bouts for the night, is speech and hearing impaired.
A member of the Abu Dhabi Club for Special Needs, the 32-year-old Emirati is excited about his first fight in a demanding sport, which is a form of kickboxing with both hands and legs being used in combination.
Placing his hands over his heart, he expressed the anticipation and tension building up inside before writing his feelings down on paper.
"I had always dreamt of becoming a fighter when I was young," he wrote. "But I started training only from the winter of 2008. I have never fought before; this is my first amateur fight and I am really excited."
Al Hosani has been training with Jumaa bin Jama at his World Gym in Abu Dhabi for the past two years and the Tunisian coach is really proud to see the Emirati's dream coming true.
"This is his first fight and anybody fighting for the first time will be a bit nervous," bin Jama said. "But we are fully behind him, encouraging and supporting him. We have been pushing him and he is in good shape.
"I am proud of him. I believe I have achieved something really great, for both of us."
When al Hosani first took up the sport, he struggled to cope and got injured multiple times. Every time he got injured, bin Jama admits he thought he had seen the last of him, but the Emirati kept coming back.
"He got injured many times and I thought he will not return every time he got injured, but he kept coming back," said bin Jama.
"But he really wanted to become a fighter. He came into this sport to prove that people with special needs can also fight, that there is no barriers for them. He will prove that people like him can live a normal life and pursue a challenging sport like this."
To communicate with al Hosani, bin Jama had to brush up on his sign language. If he struggles to get his message across through hand gestures, he writes it down.
The coach has had full support from al Hosani's family and they will be ringside at the Meydan Hotel tonight.
"His family is really happy," bin Jama said. "His father is busy, but he has promised to come and support and encourage him during the fight. Ahmed would always tell him he will fight internationally one day and that moment has arrived. So the full family will be here for the fight."
Bin Jama is also hoping Emiratis will come out in numbers to support al Hosani and cheer him on.
"I want all the Emiratis to come and encourage him, support him and cheer him on to victory," said bin Jama. "He wants to show that he is special needs, but proud to be an Emirati. His fight will encourage other people like him and other Emiratis to take up this sport.
"He is really quick and has a good combination, good coordination between hands and leg. You will see it in the fight."
Before al Hosani takes the ring, another Emirati, Adnan al Hout, will set the night in motion against Syria's Mohammed Waheed. The third amateur fight will see Mohammed Gawech face Ahmed Omar, while Tunisia's Ayman bin Ali will take on Ali Dahbia of Jordan in the final bout.
The professionals will then take the stage, with three 12-round bouts for the men and a battle for the women's middleweight belt between holder Maria Rodriguez of Spain and Turkey's Nurhayat Deniz.