More than BD60,000 was raised to support the good work carried out by the Royal Humanitarian Foundation (RHF) during the Royal Rumble II, a charity boxing event organised by the Bahrain Boxing Federation (BBF) in association with the Bahrain Rugby Football Club (BRFC).
Six items, including a pair of shorts signed by the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali and a pair of gloves signed by former two-time world champion British boxer Amir Khan, were up for grabs at an auction that took place halfway through the event.
A unique collection of Parachute Regiment memorabilia was bought for BD50,000 by an expat member of the several-hundred-strong audience.
The black-tie affair at the BRFC on Thursday night featured nine boxers from the Bahrain Royal Guard pitted against opponents from the British Army’s Parachute Regiment. The Royal Guard won the contest, 6-3.
The event was held under the patronage of Supreme Council for Youth and Sport first deputy chairman, General Sports Authority chairman and Bahrain Olympic Committee president Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa who witnessed the thrilling fights and presented the winners’ trophy to the Royal Guard captain.
Khan, who held unified light-welterweight titles between 2009 and 2012 including the World Boxing Association (WBA) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) crowns, was a special guest at the occasion.
Two more former British world champions – Michael ‘Rocky’ Fielding, who won the WBA super-middleweight title in 2018 and Lawrence Okolie, who held the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) cruiserweight title from 2021 to 2023 – were also present.
“The event was a great success and everyone who was there enjoyed it thoroughly,” the BBF’s technical development manager and national team coach Tony Davis, whose brainchild the Royal Rumble is, told the GDN.
“Amir Khan was there and was very supportive. He wasn’t in Bahrain just to attend the Royal Rumble; he visited schools, met people in an effort to help raise the profile of boxing in the kingdom.
“Rocky Fielding and Lawrence Okolie were also there and got a great reception too.
“And none of this would have been possible without the patronage and support of Shaikh Khalid – massive thanks are due to him. This event marked the first time he got in the ring to present the trophy to the winning team’s captain so it shows his unwavering commitment to promoting boxing.”
BRFC chairman Mike Cunningham told the GDN that it had been a great honour for the club to host the Royal Rumble II.
“We are very grateful to Shaikh Khalid for his support and belief in this event and we look forward to hosting many more in the future,” he added.
“This boxing charity dinner occasion was eagerly anticipated by anybody connected with the boxing fraternity in Bahrain and overseas also. And it was a massive success for the BBF and the BRFC and I’m sure everybody will remember the night for a very, very long time!”
Meanwhile, BBF president Rashid Feleyfel told the GDN that he had had a fruitful discussion with Khan about the possibility of creating more such events and hosting professional boxing bouts sanctioned by the four major organisations: the WBA, the IBF, the WBO and the World Boxing Council (WBC).
“My gratitude is due to Shaikh Khalid without whose patronage this event would not have been possible. And he was extremely supportive of the idea of possibly hosting professional fights in Bahrain and suggested that we start more grassroots programmes to unearth the next generation of Bahraini boxing champions.
“With Shaikh Khalid’s support, we will start by creating a boxing commission that will oversee professional boxing events and start sanctioning world championship fights hosted in Bahrain.
“Hopefully, this will further spread the passion for boxing across our kingdom and inspire children to take up the sport which, in turn, will serve to instill discipline, confidence and humility in them and create a health-conscious generation.”
At the Royal Rumble II itself, after Radio Bahrain host and the MC for the evening, Shannon Crockett had kicked things off by announcing in his inimitable style that the event was officially underway, an already spirited audience, clad in their finest formal wear, stirred in anticipation.
And as each bout progressed, the noise levels in the makeshift arena rose markedly with some urging the Bahraini pugilists on with others cheering for the British boxers.
There was a massive roar when the first bout was won by a Royal Guard boxer and an even louder when the second also went Bahrain’s way.
But, then, the next three bouts were won by the Parachute Regiment which meant that the British team led 3-2 at the interval – during which the auction, conducted by BRFC general secretary Allen Blake, was held.
“I thought, before the competition started, that we’d either be 3-2 up or 2-3 down at the break,” Davis explained.
“But I also thought that in the second half – which had four bouts – we’d have a better showing because those boxers are more experienced and follow my instructions better. And that’s how it turned out: a 6-3 win for us in the end after some very close contests at the end.”
The last four bouts featured boxers so closely matched that each one of them was won by a Bahraini pugilist via a split decision with the crowd, completely involved until the end, screaming themselves hoarse as they cheered for their respective boxers.
The first Royal Rumble was held at the same venue in February 2022 with the Bahrain Royal Guard taking on the British Army’s Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. The Bahraini team won that nine-bout contest, 8-1.