For this particular gentleman, life wasn’t always as seemingly easy as people see today. His adventures kicked off exponentially in 2008 when he picked up and moved to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on a hunch. After having visited several times on holiday, he had been taken aback by the beautiful city which lacked Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) classes or gyms. For this fighter the new and fascinating city of bright lights and much talk, provided hope of a bright future where he could really start something for myself and sports enthusiasts in Dubai.
Dubai had all the answers to his dreams, which he shortly realized as he put in all his efforts working his way from teaching MMA classes, to representing the sport, and finally opening his very own MMA gym, which is said to be one of the biggest and well-rounded gyms in Dubai.
The man we speak of is none other than Tam Khan and his TK MMA and Fitness Gym (TKMMAFIT) located in Media City Dubai.
Tam Khan is an English fighter with Afghan roots with a professional record of 6-3. He is also known for his entrepreneurial skills; the man behind Dubai Fighting Championship (Dubai FC), Contender MMA, Glory, HM Fitness and now TK MMA.
MMA is a sport that has been gaining speed and popularity over the last couple of decades. In Dubai, however, it can be said that only recently has the trend and passion of MMA picked up, since this entrepreneurial fighter landed. He started off by teaching in the World Black Belt Center (WBBC), owned by Rio Altaie. Since his early days of Jiu Jitsu in the UAE, Khan was in the WBBC capable of tapping 4-5 guys a day he says, as he had received training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Vale Tudo in Team Sure Grip Mixed Martial Arts, Essex under the tutelage of his mentor and longtime friend Daniel Burzotta.
His talent and desire for MMA allowed him to bring MMA classes to the WBBC and it took off from there. Khan slowly built up the reputation and education of the sport while gaining fans and trainees. While MMA grew, there was only one thing to do; start his own gym and own brand, that allowed the space for more to train, more business to bloom, and better international sparring partners to come in and train freely while elevating the skills of those within Dubai.
“I call TK MMAFIT the ultimate training facility, because it covers everything under one roof. Usually those who want to do combat, go to one for combat, one for fitness, one for Jiu Jitsu, and another for cross fit. We have it all.” – says Khan.
For those who are genuine fighters, professional or amateur, as well as for those who enjoy it as a fitness routine, this gym caters to all. The massive space includes an indoor combat area with high end training mats, over 15 punching bags and training cage. The outdoors contain a second cage and a professional boxing ring.
There is also a Crossfit training area, an outdoor functional area with a running track, stations, infinite dumbbell racks and wheels, a fitness area with the latest equipment, and a unique outdoor swimming pool.
There is of course also a SPA center to relax and recuperate in after a hard workout. The one thing is stable across the different areas of the gym is the feel of Tam Khan’s very own brand; it’s seriousness and it’s combative vibe. It is equipped with some of the top coaches such as Benjy Zimmerman the current striking coach of Alistar Overeem and Abudul Malik Gadzhiev, a veteran of Muay Thai, along with some of the well-known international fighters. “When you come to this gym people will get to see the hard core guys as well as normal white collar fitness enthusiasts” he says. Fighters rumored to be visiting the facility are the likes of Alistair Overeem, Jimi Manuwa and many more. The possibility of Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor, and John Jones are also in the working along with various K1 fighters and WWE super Stars.
“Everyone knows my background. I come from real fighting. I’ve built up people like Mounir Lazzez, and many other guys in the region. I am going to hit on both, fitness enthusiasts as well as professionals. The classes will be split. Also any fighter from any team can come and train with us, when we have sparring sessions. They don’t have to wear my logo or anything of that sort. It’s good for the region; we want everyone to work together, train and improve together.”
One incredibly important aspect of this gym that will define it is Khan’s very clear vision of running it. Khan loves the sport and wants to elevate the whole of the sport not just himself, not just his fighters. Though it may come at what others call a cost, this is definitely the way to allow all types of fighters to up their game whether it be by sparring with fellow athletes from different gyms or just being around the right mind set.
“When guys represent you, it’s something you can’t buy with money” – Tam Khan
The focus is on talent training and breeding pure fighters without the emphasis of trying to cash them as a cheque. Fighters aren’t known to endure wealthy careers except for a select few who are submerged in the flashy lights of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) marketing. Khan says that “the passion is always there, but unfortunately fighters don’t pay bills. Even if you manage them, which I have done, I know what they’re paid so I never took commission.”
“I give good rates for pros or those who wanna compete under my banner. Every gym I run or own I let the pros train for free” he says. As a fighter himself and owner of TK MMA, his prime goal is just to be secure, pay his bills, and his passion is to always bring fighters. Otherwise he would open a CrossFit gym or Shisha restaurant, which would make more money he mentions.
“I just love the sport, I love bringing in the professionals around the atmosphere, and this is where all of my network in business and life has come from- through fighting. From where I started fighting from, to now here doing this, this is my passion and I love when I see guys improve and get to a higher level.”
The official opening of this gym is hoped to be the end of March, 2016. This entrepreneur not only has plans for physical expansion across the region to Abu Dhabi, Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Moscow , and London, but wants to get the first Arab bred fighter from this region and propel him to the UFC, which he says “I’ve said before and will again, I will be the first to do it”.
There you have it; a fighter from the UK has landed in Dubai, expanded MMA with his efforts and his own massive MMA gym. He plans to elevate the sport of MMA and its fighters through his vision of unity for the love of the sport, and his genuine old school emphasis on skills. Stay tuned for updates as they happen only on Arabsmma.com