LONDON: Inspiring the next generation of Saudis to take up sport and become champions is one of the main goals in bringing top-class sport to the Kingdom, according to the rights holder of the upcoming heavyweight boxing rematch between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk.
Prince Fahad bin Abdulaziz, spokesperson for Skill Challenge Entertainment, spoke this week about the build-up to the fight in Jeddah as well as the legacy he hopes the bout will leave behind on Saudi youth.
The prince praised the Saudi leadership for their continued support in bringing major events to the Kingdom.
“Sport and entertainment play a central role in Vision 2030, the strategy behind the nation’s transformation,” he said.
“The country’s esteemed leadership are truly invested in the impact sport can have in improving the lives of its people and we are fully aligned to support the transformation. The changes already implanted have already had a massive impact on people in our country.
“You can really sense how excited Saudis are to see some of the world’s biggest sports events take place in the Kingdom.”
Prince Fahad also said he believed hosting the fight in Saudi Arabia aligned with the broader ambition of growing boxing in the Kingdom.
“One of the major reasons to host events like this here in the Kingdom is to inspire the locals and future generations at a grassroots level,” he said.
“Since the last fight in 2019, the ‘Clash on the Dunes,’ we’ve witnessed a 300 percent increase in men and women participating in boxing and the number of boxing gyms increase from seven to 59.
“Through hosting further events like this, including the first women’s boxing championships, we aim to inspire over 500,000 individuals to take up the sport in the next four years. A key achievement will be to inspire the nation and region to try the sport and hopefully fall in love with it like so many already have.”
He added: “Alongside this we want to showcase the true Saudi Arabia to the rest of the world, the wonderful people, the countries transformation, the beauty of the landscape on the Red Sea.”
He said hosting the world heavyweight championship was a culmination of the transformation happening in the Kingdom at the moment.
“The changes and transformation as result of Vision 2030 inspires us to host some of the biggest global sporting events like this. This was really behind what gave us at Skill Challenge Entertainment the ambition to deliver this event and showcase Saudi globally.”
In the build-up to the fight and at the press conferences announcing the fight, Prince Fahad said that putting Jeddah and Saudi Arabia on the global map had been a highlight.
“There was an immense amount of pride during the filming of the promo video. For the main part of the video, Anthony Joshua and Usyk met face-to-face in the historical part of Jeddah alongside 300 locals which gave a glimpse into the excitement the locals have towards us hosting this event in the Kingdom,” he said.
“The fighters embraced the moment and bounced off the incredible atmosphere created, they both commented on how amazing the historical area of Jeddah was, it felt incredible to be there for that moment and we hope everyone loves it as much as we all loved creating it,” he added.
Prince Fahad’s message for boxing fans travelling to Jeddah for the “Rage on the Red Sea” fight on Aug. 20 was to “expect the unexpected.”
He continued: “‘Rage on the Red Sea’ is set to be one of this year’s biggest sporting moments globally, happening right here on our doorstep, I encourage you to be part of history and come to the fight, you will have an incredible time.”