Boxing: Leeds brothers on the comeback trail

FRESH START: Boxing star Ricky Hatton, centre, joins  Shabir Mohammed, left, and Kabir Mohammed at the official opening of KO Sports in Harehills.
FRESH START: Boxing star Ricky Hatton, centre, joins Shabir Mohammed, left, and Kabir Mohammed at the official opening of KO Sports in Harehills.
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When fire ravaged through several Roundhay Road properties in March, two Leeds graduate twins thought their boxing business dreams had gone up in smoke.

But six months on Shabir and Kabir Mohammed’s venture is looking smoking hot, thanks to a big helping hand from Ricky Hatton.

Twin brothers Shabir and Kabir began a boxing retail business whilst studying for a sports degree at Leeds Met University back in 2006.

‘KO Sports’ was born but six years on disaster struck when their shop – based on Roundhay Road – was ravaged by fire.

The twins lost everything and had no option but to look for a new business premises but six months later that new premises has been found.

Fitting also, that the star act at the grand opening was the subject of another comeback story – Ricky ‘the Hitman’ Hatton.

The Manchester boxer was invited to last week’s KO Sports re-launch – gladly attending as both the boxer and business duo concentrate on re-igniting their careers.

“Ricky knew about what had happened with the fire and we have worked quite closely with the Hatton camp before,” explained Shabir.

“So we sent an invitation to him and he duly accepted. He was happy to come to Leeds to KO Sports and to meet his fanbase. Now we are on the way up and so he is he! The fire we had in March started in a neighbouring property but it went right through the building and it was devastating.

“We lost everything but we have had a lot of help from the community and from the companies and professionals that we work with.

“We are back on our feet now and we are looking forward to the future and the new place is bigger.

“Bigger and better hopefully!”

Shabir, 28, also expects big things from Hatton as his sensational comeback gathers a head of steam.

Hatton will step up to the welterweight division to take on Vyacheslav Senchenko of the Ukraine at Manchester’s MEN Arena on November 24 and Shabir expects only one outcome.

“Ricky is in incredible shape and he is an amazing athlete,” said Shabir.

“He says he has got the eye of the tiger back and he wants to achieve for the British public, his fanbase et cetera and his family.

“I think he is really going to ignite the division again in the UK.

“Having him down at KO Sports was an unbelievable pleasure and a privilege.

“Ricky Hatton is such a gentleman, he’s just an amazing, amazing person and very relaxed and calm.

“He was really chilled out and really easy with everybody.

“And very open and I can’t say enough good things about him.

“He came up and he was relaxing and meeting people and shaking hands when he was walking in.

“He loved the fact that we are what we are in Leeds and that we are specialists in what we do.

“He’s from Manchester but he knows Leeds and he has been here a few times and it was a fantastic turnout for him. I would say almost 200 people were there.

“It was really busy and we even had to have the police down to divert traffic and for added security.

“It was a lot bigger than we envisaged.”

Hatton’s presence has certainly added gusto to the plight of KO Sports who sell pretty much anything connected with combat sports or fitness.

And the Mohammed twins can certainly expect to be busy with boxing and in particular Leeds boxing currently on the crest of a wave.

“Boxing in Leeds is on the map,” said Shabir.

“We have got fighters like Qais Ashfaq who we had down for the opening and we do a lot of work with Adil Anwar who is going really well and who is going for a British title light-welterweight eliminator against Dale Miles in October.

“Then we have got Olympic champion Nicola Adams who has achieved something that was just unprecedented.

“I think boxing generally with Olympic success is on the up.

“As a nation we have invested a lot of time, money and energy into boxing and people are starting to see the results.

“Go back to 2004 and Amir Khan was the only Olympian competing for the GB squad but this year we had five or six male athletes and two or three women. Boxing is definitely on the up.”

And so too once more is KO Sports though Shabir is not making any rash plans as yet about extending the business further.

One shop is enough for now but the part owner has promised that Hatton will definitely return to Roundhay Road.

Shabir added: “Ricky will definitely be coming back to KO Sports in Leeds.”

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