The UAE's mixed martial arts and boxing community has paid tribute to Seb Eubank after the son of former British boxing champion Chris Eubank was found dead on a beach in Dubai days before his 30th birthday.
Former boxing world super middleweight champion Eubank Snr confirmed news of his son's passing on Friday, though Dubai authorities are yet to comment on the cause of death.
The third-eldest of Eubank Snr's children, Seb is survived by wife Salma and one-month-old son Raheem.
Eubank made a winning debut in the UAE Warriors 10 at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena in Abu Dhabi on February 10 and was set to return in the promotion’s next edition in September.
Fouad Darwish, managing director of Palms Sports that organises the UAE Warriors, said he had spoken to Eubank only 10 days ago regarding his return to the cage.
“We have a common friend and he was in my office, and said Seb wanted to fight in our promotion’s next edition,” Darwish told The National.
“I called him and we spoke, and the plan was to bring him back. It really broke my heart to learn the sad news this morning.
“I’m a very emotional person. People die everyday but this guy was full of energy, being so young, and being a sportsman and a fitness trainer. He was such an ambitious and compassionate young man.”
Eubank’s debut for the UAE Warriors almost fell through after his original opponent Mohamed El Mokadem was forced out of the fight due to suffering an injury during training.
The organisers then drafted in Emad Hanibal and the catchweight 80-kilogram contest was re-arranged as an exhibition with three rounds comprising three minutes each. Eubank emerged the victor via a first-round knockout.
“I remember his first fight,” Darwish added. “His original opponent was forced out of the fight because of the injury and we had to find a replacement within 48 hours.
“His fight was changed to an exhibition but Seb didn’t back out and said that he was ready to fight any opponent. He was determined to fight.
“I knew many fighters but Seb left an imposing mark on his MMA debut. He had the pedigree as a son of a fighter. He had charisma and was always prepared to do the best for our promotion. It’s so sad because it was the beginning of his new career.”
Eubank grew up in Hove on the south-coast of England and boxed as an amateur and had two professional fights - winning both - before making his debut in MMA last year.
He moved to Dubai in his mid-twenties where he was well known for promoting fitness and a healthy lifestyle as well as being active on the combat sports circuit.
Anthony de Bruign, a professional Dutch boxer and personal trainer based in Dubai, says he spent time with Eubank hours before his death on Thursday.
“The crazy thing is that we sat together the day he drowned,” an emotional De Bruign told The National.
“We actually spoke about the future, about my career and stuff, and how to progress on my professional boxing. Our paths had split a bit because Seb had to take care of his wife and son and he really was focussed on it.
“The funny thing is that I said to him ‘no worries, no rush, we have being seeing each other enough, and we have a lifetime to catch up’ and to spend his time with his family, and we can still meet in the next 10 years.
“I was with him at 5.30pm and 6.30pm was his last. He was to drop-by at my place that night.”
De Bruign said he first met Eubank around seven years ago as they set out on their paths in boxing.
“We became very close when we started a training journey together,” he added. “He gave me a boost and was an inspiration to everybody in the health game, about nutrition, not just for a fighter but for a general healthy living. We also travelled together to the US and things like that.
“What I would like to say specifically is that he was caring even though he was a special, legendary person, but he was trying to be normal. He has a very big background being from a famous family in the UK.
“I really appreciated him for his humbleness and trying to fit in with the normal crowd. When I started my friendship with him I was only an amateur boxer but he never looked at me that way. That really stands out.”
Emirati boxer Sultan Al Nuaimi also paid tribute to Eubank, describing him as a "kind-hearted person" who would often offer advice.
“It’s really hard to swallow what we heard of Seb,” Al Nuami said. “Nobody could have imagined this would happen for a young healthy person.
“We use to train together when I was a beginner three years ago. In the last two years, whenever he dropped by at my training, he would come up to me to speak about the improvements in me. He was such a motivational person.
“In recent times, he would also tell me to come over to have a sparring session with him. He was a very friendly and kind-hearted person.”