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Middle Eastern boxers


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Now, when strong boxing nations are mentioned, Middle Eastern ones are not usually among them, for several reasons. Firstly, boxing, modern boxing that is, was never too big in those countries and wrestling was always more popular. Secondly, due to the harsh economic conditions and even religious reasons, a sport like that could never flourish in this region. Few sports did really. HOWEVER, Middle Eastern countries still produced some boxers that are worth talking about and that is what I will do here. Let’s go.

First one is also the best, Syria’s own Mustafa Hamsho. I have already done a thread about him, so I will keep it brief. Born in Latakia, Syria, he came to New York in the 70’s and started boxing as a middleweight, standing only 5’8 but muscular and strongly built. His first noted victory was over Alan Minter in 1981, whom he outhustled to win a split decision in NY. He then fought Marvin Hagler the champion first time on 3 October that same year and lasted 11 rounds before being stopped by TKO. He also defeated then-promising Curtis Parker twice on points and also was the first to upset the young Bobby Czyz and won by UD, November 1982. After beating the over the hill Wilfred Benitez by UD, he fought Hagler again on 19 October 1984 and this time got stopped in 3 rounds. He would retire in late 1989, with a record of 44(28)-5-2. He was known as a rugged and dirty fighter who was willing to use all the tricks to get a fighter out of balance. He was later ranked no.3 among the most important Muslim boxers by The Ring.

We now travel to Iran, the largest Mideastern country, where Mahyar Monshipour was born, in the town of Bam, 21 March 1975. He was sent to France at the age of 11 by his father, due to the ongoing Iran-Iraq war and bad situation in the country. To make a long story short, the 5’5 “Little Tyson” won the European title by TKO6 against Tuncay Kaya in 2002 and then the WBA title next year by stopping Salim Medjkoune by KO12, both at super bantamweight. He defended it five times, all by knockout, before losing it to Somsak Sithchatchawal by TKO10, in what was named FOTY by all the most important boxing and sports medias. That was on 18 March 2006 and MM made a comeback in late 2008, but retired next year, after losing in the WBA bantam fight to Anselmo Moreno, by split decision. His record is 31(21)-4-2 and he was known as a dynamic and tough fighter with explosive power.

Our next guy also comes from Iran, Tehran, where he was born on 23 September 1975, under the name Merdud Takalobigashi, but later shortened the last to Takaloo, under which he goes today-just TAKALOO. This 5’9 muscular specimen fled Iran as well as a child but came to England and lived in Margate, Kent, for which he was later called “The Margate Rock”. After a short amateur career, he turned pro in 1997, fighting as a junior middle. He first appeared on the radar when he sensationally stopped the 26-0 Anthony Farnell in just one round, in 2001. Next year, he got to fight the WBO champion Daniel Santos at home and sent him down once, but ultimately lost by unanimous decision. He rebounded by stopping Ulsterman Jim Rock by TKO9 in Belfast to win the vacant WBU belt in 2003, but in 2004 he got knocked out cold by big puncher Wayne Alexander and stopped in 2 rounds. The rest of his career was pretty forgettable but he went down to 147 to win the WBU belt there as well, before retiring in 2011. His record is 26(17)-8-0. Takaloo was a brash and cocky warrior who hit hard and loved a good scrap.

Ahmed Abdin is the only Kurd on this list and was born somewhere in Syria, birthdate not known. This 6’3 heavyweight was known under the alias “Relentless” and was a tough guy, only getting stopped once and late. Abdin fought out of Houston, Texas and his full name was Ahmed Hisham Abdin. Turning pro in 1992, he drew against solid fighters like Quinn Navarre and Obed Sullivan and racked up a record of 23 wins and 3 draws, also beating Navarre in the rematch by SD10 and beating the huge Corey Sanders by PTS6 and stopping Marcus Rhode and Tony LaRosa. In April of 1997, he fought the slick Larry Donald for the WBC Continental Americas belt and dropped a clear unanimous decision. After scoring two wins, he was matched against the physically formidable and promising 6’7 Michael Grant, in January 1999. He made it a fight but had to quit after taking too much punishment after round 10. He returned to fighting journeymen until fighting the old but still game Tim Witherspoon in May 2002 and losing to him by a rather close UD10. He came back for one more fight in 2005, where he knocked out the debutant Tim Peterson in 1 round. His record is 31(16)-3-4. 

And last but not least, we go farthest south to Jordan, where Ramzi Hassan was born, in the capital of Amman. He stands 6’2 and has an equally long reach, which for that time made him a tall light heavyweight. He came to California to start his pro career in 1982 and won 7 of his first fights before losing to Clarence Osby on points in 6 rounds. He then racked up eleven consecutive wins, before fighting Slobodan Kacar of Yugoslavia and dropping a ten round decision to the man who would later that year win the IBF belt. In 1987, he scored his two probably best victories over Jeff Lampkin and Uriah Grant, both on points. He won the California State Comission title by beating Grant, but in November that year he was stopped for the first time by Tony Willis, the NABF champion, by TKO12.  Despite that, he got to fight the WBA champion Virgil Hill for his title in June ‘88 and went the distance but lost clearly on all cards. In December that year, he fought for the inaugural WBO title against less experienced Michael Moorer and got stopped by TKO5. He has also fought Mike McCallum, Fabrice Tiozzo and Frank Tate and gone distance against them. His last fight was in May 1996, where he got stopped for the fourth time by William Guthrie in 6. Hassan was a durable and tough fighter, but lacked the punching power. Today he lives in Campo, California and works as a boxing and fitness trainer. 


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