He’s known for being pals with some of the world’s biggest celebrities and has an Instagram following of 1.9 million, but now Rashed Belhasa, better known as Money Kicks, is readying for a new venture that could win him over some new fans.
The Emirati influencer, who also has more than 3 million subscribers on YouTube, will step into the ring and make his boxing debut in an influencer combat event called Social Knockout, organised by TK Fight Nights in collaboration with Dubai Sports Council. It will also notably be one of the first events in the world to use cryptocurrency only for transactions.
Belhasa, 19, will square off against fellow influencer Anas Elshayib at Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena on July 30 in an event where YouTube star Adam Saleh also makes his Middle Eastern boxing debut.
The event was announced on July 1, almost a month after American influencer Logan Paul fought Floyd Mayweather in an exhibition match.
While boxing bouts between influencers aren’t new (Paul and YouTube star KSI famously fought in 2018), this will mark Belhasa's ring debut, although it's been on his mind for some time.
“I loved watching the sport ever since I can remember. I also know [UK boxer] Anthony Joshua personally and am a big fan of the new champions today. It’s always been a secret passion of mine,” he says.
Of course, watching the sport and participating are different things.
In preparation for the fight, Belhasa has been training for the last few months with Tam Khan, a former MMA fighter and the chief executive of Social Knockout, at Dubai’s TK MMA & Fitness. While Belhasa feels that the transition to the ring has gone well, he also admits it’s been tough.
“My coaches don’t give me any easy days. They don’t care who you are or what your background is, when it comes to work, we have to work. I love that way of thinking and it pushes me to areas I never thought possible,” he says.
“It’s all good throwing them on a bag or pads but when someone is hitting you back, then it tests your skills and limits. But I really enjoy it. It’s a humbling way to learn.”
During the press conference announcing Social Knockout, Khan described Belhasa as “young, enthusiastic, and full of energy”. Khan said Belhasa's boxing was “improving exponentially every day”.
“He is talented and I’m sure he will give his fans a great show,” said Khan.
While the event is just a one-off for now, does the young Emirati have plans to transition into the boxing ring full-time?
"I am taking this fight by fight," he says. "Of course, I have a dream to take this as far as possible. But I also understand it’s a process and I want to take it step by step and the correct way. I will train as hard as possible and [learn from] experiences I’ll gain on the journey there."
Fans who are interested in the event can either attend in person or watch via a live stream on TK Fight Night’s website. They can expect to see up to 10 exhibition fights on the night. The event will also have rappers Fat Joe and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie performing, as well as Indian singer Guru Randhawa.
As the fight date approaches, Belhasa has a message for his fans on why they should tune in: “I thrive off my fans. It’s because of them I am where I am and I appreciate them all. I hope I make them all proud and put on a great show.
"Actually, I guarantee I’ll put on a great show.”