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Tyson's Gym in Riyadh: Is Saudi Arabia Becoming Boxing's Next Mecca?"

In a surprising turn of events, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson has set up shop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with a gym that has quickly become the hottest spot in the city. The move has raised eyebrows and questions about whether Saudi Arabia is on its way to becoming the next big thing in the world of boxing.

Tyson’s gym, located in Riyadh, has become a training ground for renowned fighters, including Francis Ngannou, gearing up for high-profile bouts. Over the past year, Riyadh has emerged as a central hub for heavyweight boxing, with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia investing significant sums to attract some of the sport’s biggest names.

The gym, now a year old, was born out of Tyson’s visit to Saudi Arabia for the Tyson Fury-Ngannou fight last October. Tyson’s presence in the region has added a level of star power to the burgeoning boxing scene, drawing attention not only from local enthusiasts but also from the international boxing community.

Amer Abdullah, the director of boxing at Skill Challenge Entertainment, highlighted the impact of Tyson’s involvement, stating, “He just keeps pushing the bar and reinventing himself. Here we are in 2024, and he is still very relevant in the sport, a living legend.”

The decision to establish the gym reflects the growing significance of Saudi Arabia in the boxing world. Turki Alalshikh, an influential figure in the Saudi Royal Court, played a pivotal role in inviting Tyson and has been instrumental in turning Saudi Arabia into a prime location for major boxing events.

“Boxing is going to go where there is the most opportunity,” says Abdullah. And Saudi Arabia seems to be capitalizing on that opportunity, hosting two out of the four upcoming pay-per-view events, a notable feat for a region that hasn’t traditionally been associated with the sport.

Despite political complexities and logistical challenges associated with hosting fights in Saudi Arabia, the country is reshaping how boxing is perceived and consumed. The Tyson-endorsed gym is just one piece of the puzzle, potentially becoming a classic training destination akin to legendary facilities like the Kronk, the Summit at Big Bear, and the Wild Card Boxing club.

The Middle East is becoming a land of opportunity for fighters, offering the promise of prosperity in a sport where risks are high. While there are hurdles to overcome, the Saudi Arabian boxing scene, with Tyson’s gym at its core, may indeed be on the cusp of something monumental.

In a sport that thrives on spectacle and excitement, Saudi Arabia seems determined to rewrite the script, redefining how boxing is done both in terms of promotion and visual appeal. If the trend continues, Tyson’s gym could become an iconic symbol of the sport’s newfound home in the heart of the Middle East.

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