Prince Naseem punches hard for Yemen at first Saudi boxing match

Prince Naseem punches hard for Yemen at first Saudi boxing match
British-Yemeni former boxing champion Prince Naseem Hamed took an unexpected political stance at Saudi Arabia's first professional boxing event this week, highlighting the war in neighbouring Yemen.
3 min read
02 October, 2018
Prince Naseem is a British-Yemeni former boxing champion [Getty]

Former British-Yemeni superstar boxer, Prince Naseem Hamed took an unexpected political stance during Saudi Arabia's first professional boxing event earlier this week, where he highlighted the war in neighbouring Yemen to a packed out stadium in Jeddah.

The British-born boxer, who is of Yemeni origin, then went on to chant a popular Arabic nationalistic slogan while on the ring, stating "With our souls and our blood, we sacrifice for you O' Yemen".

"Yemen is going through some hard times, please do not forget to pray for Yemen," he added, speaking in Arabic.

Naseem, the Sheffield-born fighter to Yemeni parents, also said he wished to create a professional boxing academy in the Kingdom.  

"Now it’s time to take things forward. I’m planning to sit down with the government and create a Prince Naseem Academy, a boxing school of excellence, here. I want to produce champions from Saudi Arabia and throughout the region," he told Arab News.

"We have a great opportunity. I’m sure there are talented Arab fighters out there waiting to be discovered. We will have great trainers and great champions."

Saudi Arabia is currently leading a military coalition to drive out Houthi rebels from neighbouring Yemen, in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people and driven the impoverished state to near-famine.

Yemen has since descended into what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with thousands of people killed and millions at risk of starvation. 

The coalition has been accused of bombing multiple civilian targets, including buses and hospitals. 

The United Nations Human Rights Council voted to extend an international probe of alleged war crimes committed in Yemen despite strong opposition from Saudi Arabia and several of its allies. 

Nations voted 21 to 8, with 18 abstentions, in favour of a resolution that renewed the UN-backed investigation for a year. 

Last month, investigators detailed evidence of possible war crimes committed in Yemen by both the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi rebels supported by Iran. 

The coalition and the Yemeni government, which together are battling the Houthis, strongly criticised the probe's initial report, arguing that it underplayed rebel violations and Iran's role. 

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the vote "sent a clear message that it stands with Yemeni civilians".

"States at the UN Human Rights Council stood firm today, in the face of shameful efforts by the Saudi-led coalition to quash a UN expert inquiry," HRW's Geneva director, John Fisher, said in a statement. 

The vote came hours after the Saudi-led coalition strongly launched fresh criticism of the UN human rights mission.

Observers say Saudi Arabia, which leads the coalition that intervened in the conflict in March 2015 on behalf of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's government, is actively working to quash the international probe.

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