Emirati MMA athlete is a fighter in many respects

A 25-year-old mixed martial arts fighter, Abdullah Al Baloushi, is preparing for a jiu-jitsu competition in Dubai next week.
Abdullah Al Baloushi practises five hours a day, five days a week to prepare for the jiu-jitsu competition at Al Ahli Club in Dubai next week. Reem Mohammed / The National
Abdullah Al Baloushi practises five hours a day, five days a week to prepare for the jiu-jitsu competition at Al Ahli Club in Dubai next week. Reem Mohammed / The National

AJMAN // Abdullah Al Baloushi’s fights have not been confined to the ring. He has also had to fight for his career and to defy the odds.

The 25-year-old Emirati, an Ajman native, started practising mixed martial arts, or MMA, seven years ago. He has since made it his full-time job.

He is training for the Dubai International Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championship that the UAE Jiu Jitsu Federation will hold next week.

When Al Baloushi was 18, he was drawn to MMA, a sport that incorporates martial arts such as boxing, Thai kick-boxing and jiu jitsu.

“In the beginning, I did not tell my family that I wanted to practise MMA because I wanted to see if I would succeed,” said Al Baloushi.

“I started looking for clubs that train in MMA and found one in Ajman, where I spent three months, and then moved to one in Sharjah.”

When his trainers told him he was excelling in the sport, he decided to tell his parents.

“My mother at that time told me: ‘You are wasting your time’, and my father said: ‘This field is for non-Arabs and it is better to find a good job instead of this’,” said Al Baloushi.

“My father expected that I would quit this sport soon, but after they started seeing my pictures and interviews in media and that I am achieving high ranks, they accepted it.”

Al Baloushi was paying costly club fees out of his own pocket, with no help from his family.

“We have a farm for poultry, and I used to sell my portion to get money and pay them to the club,” he said.

“After three years of training at the club in Sharjah, I moved to another one in Dubai, where I was training and participating in competitions for two years with no fees and not making money out if it.” With a blue belt in the sport, he now trains at Al Nasr Club in Dubai, where he participates in competitions and receives a monthly salary.

He is practising five hours a day, five days a week to prepare for the jiu-jitsu competition at Al Ahli Club in Dubai next week, as well as an international event scheduled to take place in April in Abu Dhabi.

To stay fit, he also does CrossFit training and swimming, in addition to visiting the gym and eating healthy food.

“Before any competition, our weights should not exceed 61 kilograms,” he said.

Al Baloushi also hopes to take part in the regional Desert Force MMA event in December.

“Participating in local competitions and winning them give me a push to be in the international ones and give me an expectation that I might win,” he said.

roueiti@thenational.ae

Published: September 17, 2016 04:00 AM

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