Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 February 2020

Ilyass Habibali and Amine El Moatassime clinch Asian Muay Thai Championship golds for UAE

All seven fighters from Emirates win a medal at IFMA tournament in Abu Dhabi

Ilyass Habibali, left, defeated Khaled Tarraf in the 81kg final at the IFMA Asian Championship in Abu Dhabi. Ruel Pableo for The National
Ilyass Habibali, left, defeated Khaled Tarraf in the 81kg final at the IFMA Asian Championship in Abu Dhabi. Ruel Pableo for The National

Ilyass Habibali and Amine El Moatassime earned the UAE their first gold medals at the IFMA Asian Muay Thai Championship in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Habibali overcame Khaled Tarraf of Lebanon in the 81 kilogram final 29-28 after El Moatassime had secured the 71kg gold when his Iraqi opponent Shaker Al Tekreeti forfeited the final because of injury.

“It is a historic occasion for the UAE to host this championship for the first time and for us to present the nation with their first continental gold medals,” Habibali said.

“Overall, it was our best ever record in the Asian Championship with all seven elite fighters winning a medal each and youth and juniors chipping in with another 10 medals, including two golds.”

The UAE won two gold, three silver and three bronze medals in the main championship, and two gold, four silver and three bronze medals in the youth and junior sections.

Omar Samhan beat Amir Abbas Mahdavipour of Iran in the 81kg category for juniors (15-16 years) and Hazza Al Qubaisi got the better of Asaad Tourqan of Jordan in the 48kg section (12-13 years).

It was a remarkable performance given that the UAE Muay Thai and Kick Boxing Federation was created only two years ago.

“The future looks good when you achieve such good results in such a short period of time,” Habibali, winner of a gold medal at the 2018 World Championship in Mexico, added.

“For me, it was a personal milestone to win a continental gold following last year’s silver in Macau. I was super excited to reach the final again and I’m so happy I won gold.

“It is only our second time in the Asian Championship but it was a super effort from everyone, from the players to the technical staff, and of course the backing of our federation.”

Habibali, 28, had the final in the bag having won the first two rounds 10-9, 10-9 and then played it safe to hold on to the early lead.

“I knew I had the gold medal within my reach after the first two rounds and there wasn’t a need to take any undue risk going into the third round. So I played it safe to preserve my lead,” he added.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - winners from left (LBN) Khaled Tarraf (UAE) Ilyass Hbibali, (KAZ) Alexandr Tsarikov and (IRAQ) Mustafa Al Tekreeti with Sheikh Mohammed bin Mansour bin Zayed at the IFMA Asian championship at Breakwater. Ruel Pableo for The National
UAE's Ilyass Habibali, centre, after winning gold at the IFMA Asian Championship in Abu Dhabi. Ruel Pableo for The National

The UAE had five fighters in the final, including Ibrahim Bilal, who was reinstated in the final after a scoring error in the quarter-finals the previous night.

Bilal was the first of the five fighters in action but wasn’t successful against Kazakh Yerkanat Ospan, going down by points 30-27 in the 60kg category.

Nouredine Samir and Mohammed Mardi also failed to clear the final hurdle, both going down 29-28 to Kazakh Abil Galiyev and Thai Narin Wonglakhon in the 63.5kg and 67kg finals respectively.

Stephan Fox, general secretary of the International Federation of Muay Thai Associations (IFMA), said the UAE has raised the bar when it comes to continental championships.

“Abu Dhabi has set a new standard,” he said. “Without any doubt, this was the best championship we have ever had.

“They have raised the bar all-round that will now be hard for the others to match. The UAE and Abu Dhabi put up an amazing championship this year.

“We are about to decide on the next host for the World Championship with Abu Dhabi as one of the three cities. So fingers crossed.”

Updated: December 21, 2019 08:41 PM

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