Football legend joins stars to raise awareness of refugees and £10,000 for the Mo Farah Foundation
A whole host of celebrities, including ex-boxers Frank Bruno and John Conteh and footballers Tony Adams, Joe Cole, Tony Woodcock, Gary Mabbutt and Nigel Winterburn, attended a Gala Charity Boxing Match between Repton and Gabala (Azerbaijan). The event was organised to increase awareness of Azerbaijan's 875,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees and to raise funds for the Mo Farah Foundation. Bethnal Green boxing club Repton stepped forward to stage a special charity night to mark World Refugee Week and also raise funds for the Mo Farah Foundation.
The popular boxing event was also attended by Tale Heydarov, the President of the Gabala Sport Club in Azerbaijan. Tale has been instrumental in building boxing in Azerbaijan and in particular forging international links to help encourage sporting development at a grass roots level in his home country. One of the initiatives he has spearheaded was this charity boxing bout between Gabala Boxing Club and Repton – the oldest and most famous boxing club in the UK.
The night was hosted by the European Azerbaijan Society, in association with ex Arsenal and England Captain Tony Adams and Darren ‘Dazzling’ Barker, the IBF World middleweight champion and former European, British and Commonwealth champion, and commemorated World Refugee Day. The presenter for the night was Gary Newbon from Sky Sports and the evening also featured appearances from reality stars Chloe and Charlie Sims.
Leyla Aliyeva, Vice-President, Heydar Aliyev Foundation; Syed Kamall MEP, leader of the Conservative Group in the European Parliament; and Lord Addington, Member, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Azerbaijan and keen sportsman attended the match, together with around 800 boxing fans and promoters, celebrities and pundits.
The main part of the evening saw eight enthralling bouts, with Repton’s promising young hopes in various weight categories being pitted against their counterparts from Gabala. Boxing, wrestling, judo and other martial arts remain popular across Azerbaijan. The country’s national boxing team brought home two medals from the London 2012 Olympics. The night saw some close split-points decisions and overall victory was awarded to the home team of Repton.
Frank Bruno said; “Azerbaijanis are a tough group of people and you’ve seen this tonight. They might be amateurs but I think many could easily turn professional. That’s how good they are.”
During the interval, a cheque for the princely sum of £10,000 was presented to the Mo Farah Foundation with the remaining proceeds donated to charities assisting Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs.
Jorge Tommie Anderson fought and won on the night.
Jorge won his match convincingly. He said; I’m really happy with the result and glad to have supported charity and raise awareness about a good cause.”
Tony Adams said: “The event is in aid of Refugee IDP week. I spent 18 months in Azerbaijan and now advise and manage the sports club. We have a very successful shooting team, football, with qualification for the Europa League and a boxing team.
“I’ve bought the boxers over to face the famous Repton club in this great venue in the east end. Gabala Sports Club has got a fantastic boxing team that has been training very hard for tonight, and I am delighted to be their manager.
“It’s great to support the Mo Farah Foundation. Azerbaijan has 875,000 refugees and IDPs and they should have the chance to return home. Gabala Boxers are proud to have visited London and fought their Repton opponents. It’s been a very good night. We’ve raised a few quid for the Mo Farah Foundation and overall it’s gone very well I think.
“Everyone’s enjoyed the evening and we’ve seen some excellent boxing. Brilliant! We have raised £10,000.”
Gabala FK is an Azerbaijani association football club based in Qəbələ. They play in the Azerbaijan Premier League, the top division in Azerbaijani football.
The evening also highlighted the new TEAS ‘Many Happy Returns’ (MHR) initiative. This is an opportunity for members of the public and politicians to pledge their support to help Azerbaijani IDPs and refugees to return home. It also gives the chance to sign a petition requesting the re-designation of World Refugee Day – defined after World War II – as World Refugee and IDP day. The MHR website athttp://www.manyhappyreturnsidp.comalso uses graphic novel form to explain the background to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.