Hutkay Fight Night

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07-Jan 2017: Fight Night @ Houston

Karim Abdel Gawad 4-2 Gregory Gaultier  
                                    8/11, 11/9, 7/11, 11/9, 11/6, 11/7 (132m)     (Best of 7)  

An amazing and unique event has come to an end leaving us with a lot of superb memories.

Now, the loser of the fight is out for three years, so Greg Gaultier will not be eligeable for the next year event, whose prize money will zoom up to an extraordinnary $100k!!!

Gawad will face the Winner of the Houston Open 2017. He's also participating in the event and if he wins the title, then we will pick the players for the next fight....

So it's a great opportunity for all players who are going to come and participate in the Houston Open, as they have a chance to qualify for the 2018 Fight.

Please note that Grégory Gaultier will not be coming for the Houston Open 2017 edition...

Once again Big Thank you to



And it’s Gawad, again ...

A new concept, best of 7, we didn’t know exactly what to expect to be honest, although I knew from what promoter Jahanzeb had organised in Pakistan, it was bound to be a success. And to be clear, it was.

After a bit of a delay – we started the match at 11.45 exactly my time, 4.45 Houston time.

Media previewA free streaming that was a bit wobbly for the first 5m, but pretty perfect after that, I counted 3 camera angles but could be more, and slow motion. Good stuff, well done there, I was impressed.

A Packed crowd, seriously, up to the rafters! Good atmosphere, a very fair and knowledgeable crowd, with people were watching from the corridors!

A bit of a strange court, think Hong Kong, a traditional court with one side glass wall (right side), and very very very warm conditions, a very bouncy ball that at first sight wouldn’t benefit Karim’s attacking game.

And if I’m not exactly fan of exhibition matches, this one wasn’t. The huge amount of money at stake made this match as important and serious at it comes. No funny tricks, no pleasing the crowd with silly shots. No. Both of them were there to win.

The Match

The Frenchman was up for the battle from the start, and made very clear he was going to be hard to beat as he contained a fiery Karim 6/3, 7/4, scoring 6 points in a row to set up his first game ball 10/7, taking a long opener 11/8 in 15m. Intense pace that opener was, but Greg was on the T and Karim forced to attack from the back.

In my opinion, the second is crucial. Although Karim is famous for his love of five-setters, mentally he needed to take that game and not going two nil down. And funnily enough, the second mirrors the first, 6/3 Karim, 7/7! Was Greg going to clinch that game as well? This time, Karim was more assertive, hitting harder to find a length that seemed to elude him at the start of the match. He managed to put more pressure on Greg from 8/8, forcing him to make 3 errors out of 4 points, 11/9 Karim, 14m game.

A weird game the third, really, with Karim dominating the rallies completely, sweet and fast, 6/2 in no time, only to see the Frenchman score 8 points in a row, 10/6, taking the game 11/7 in 18m.

We had been playing for an hour. And to be honest, Karim looked drained and out in the 4th, trailing quickly 5/1, making 4 unforced errors. He cleverly asked for his 2m break – yes, in this format, players have 3 minutes instead of 2 between games, and they can extend that to 8m (+5m) once, and also take a two minute break during a game (twice in the match).

And boy was that a good idea! He clawed back to 5/5 but Greg was hungry and kept his nose in front, 7/5, 9/7. A few contacts between the players at the point – business end – but it’s the Egyptian who scores 4 points to equalise at 2/2, 11/9 in 23 minutes (21 minus the 2m break).

The 5th was going to be difficult for Greg. At 3/2, the Frenchman finds a superb drive deep in the right corner, Karim full speed tries to get it, big contact between the players and Greg shows signs of back injury.

He takes a 15m break, comes back, but seems to refuse the long rallies, going for a bit too much, making a few too many unforced errors to be able to apply any pressure on the Egyptian who takes the 5th, 11/6 in 24m (minus 15, a short game at 9m). at was 2 hours played at that point, and both players were logically showing signs of tiredness.

Karim dominated the last game, 6/1, 8/2, and although Greg gave it a big push, Karim wins the first edition of this Fight, 11/7, last game 12m, and a total duration of 132m!

Well done to both really. Excellent squash, intense, good quality, shame Greg seemed to develop that back problem at the end. But still, a very good match indeed.

"Always a good experience, unfortunately, I didn’t feel great after being hit in the back and I hope it’s nothing serious.

"The crowd was amazing, a very good atmosphere, thanks everybody that came tonight, thanks for your support, for both of us.

"Thanks again to the organisers for trusting the players and organising this kind of challenge, I’m very grateful to this new team, and hopefully they’ll keep organising more and more successful events like this one."

"I know that the support here in Houston is amazing, not only for squash, but for me as well, I have a second family here. So I really enjoy coming here every year, I enjoy playing here in front of this amazing crowd of squash fans.

"This match today is a great idea for the sport, and we need more creative ideas to move squash forward, we need that kind of initiatives more than once a year, and we need many more similar ideas also, so thanks Ali, Jahanzeb, and everyone that came up with this idea.

"I had a great run these last few months, at the start of that season, I realised I had to do a lot of work, that I had to make a few critical changes, in my performance, in my fitness, in my squash.

"So I worked really hard, and I’m really happy I managed to do really well in the last few months, and I want to keep this up, and keep doing well."


TCF started 20 years ago with a handful of schools and has evolved into a global tide of hope, resolve, and collective action. This academic year, it opened the doors of education to 175,000+ students (50% girls) in 1,202+ schools across Pakistan.

Website:  Our Facebook page

Moving towards its next milestone of reaching 1.5 million children, TCF launched its public-private partnership to revamp failing Government schools to TCF standard of quality education. Not only that, TCF has heard the demand for 11th and 12th grade programs and started a college for its highest performing students.

TCF graduates are enrolling higher education program in increasing numbers, into schools like IBA, LUMS, FAST, DOW, NED and other top tier institutes of learning in Pakistan. The brightest of our Alumni are starting to attend colleges overseas on scholarships including the USA, like Iqra Salim, a TCF alumna who has just finished a semester at the University of Saginaw, Michigan.

Diamond Sponsor

Squash Fight 2017 is reaching new heights by the addition of a brand new sponsor, Novum Energy.

Novum Energy, owned by Mr. Alfredo Vilas, is a physical oil supply and trading company operating in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Mr. Vilas, an avid squash player, runs his company similar to the way I approach squash, with out of the box thinking and creativity.

So, we are very fortunate to have Novum Energy as a Diamond sponsor for this first ever Squash Fight that is sure to blaze a new trail in the world of squash!

Venue Partner

Meet Jahanzeb Khan, a new brand of promoter, young, inventive and with a long term vision based on Players wellbeing. You have already heard the game a few weeks ago when signed Amanda “The Flash” Sobhy.

Byt you may remember an event that took place in Pakistan a few months back, called Pakistan v Egypt Challenge Series 2016. It was one of Jahanzeb’s events, which was a frank success with both the audience – extremely happy to see international squash back in the country, and the players – delighted to perform and earn a decent living at the same time!

Jahanzeb, based in Houston, is a very ambitious young man. Ambitious yes, but also caring, fully of energy, passion and drive. On top of being part of the adventure and his promoting activities, he is also managing Emperor Karim Abdel Gawad and Amazing Mazen... [actually, Mazen is recovering from his surgery in Houston, in the caring hands of Syed's dad, owner of]

Listen to what the NewKid in SquashTown has to say...


So, what the heck is that thing, "The Fight"??

JK: Here we go again with another new invention and another new excitement for the sport of squash…"

People kept asking me what will I do next after I finished the bilateral series in Pakistan where I arranged for the first time ever in the history of squash a Pakistan vs. Egypt Team Series. That event was so successful, that I had to think of something bigger and better to do. This is when I came up with a whole new and exciting concept for the game of squash that will hopefully change the way squash is viewed by the whole world!

Change the way squash is viewed? That's ambitious!

JK: Listen, I am just tired of seeing very few big companies attach themselves with squash and not help support our athletes that give so much to this sport. Our athletes need better exposure worldwide and this is where I know big companies can help and do their part.

You all have heard me say before how our squash pro athletes make next to nothing in their tournament earnings. They give up their lives for this sport and cannot support themselves enough.

Yes, agreed...

JK: The top 10 in the world can make some money but nothing compared to other sports and we all know squash pro athletes have to work extremely hard to keep up their game and succeed.

For example, if your ranking is between 90 – 100, you make around $3,000 a year. If your ranking is between 20 – 30, you can make $15,000 per year. If you are between world no. 11-19 you can make around $23,000 a year! I think it is such an insult for these athletes and for this sport! Only the top 5% of world players have any private company sponsorship.

We need companies to come in and sponsor for like half a million dollars, but even that is nothing compared to other big sports.

Then what happens if these players get injured?? There is no one that can help pay for their treatments to get them back as soon as possible so that their rankings do not suffer.

What is happening right now is that we are having events and promoters are making money, federations are making money, associations are making money…the only ones left out are the ATHLETES! To me this is such an insult, as an ex-pro player, I want to see them make millions of dollars, so that is why I am here with my crazy ideas to try and shake things up in the squash world…

Very few people I would say make money out of squash, that's a fact!

yes. This is why I came up with this new concept called SQUASH FIGHT. It is a battle between 2 players to fight and win a 24 karat Gold Belt along with some record setting prize money.

This will grow their fans & followers by giving them a reason to get more involved with their favorite player to win the fight! This is what we are missing in this sport.

I guess you are not on your own in this venture?

My very dear friend, Syed Sher Shah, who owns HUTKAY.FIT holds my hand through this event and shares my vision and passion to make things better for these athletes. He is such a generous person and I am truly blessed to have him and the Houston squash community surrounding me!

We will plan this fight once a year and every year after we will increase the prize money. In 2017, the winner will receive $30,000 and the runner up will receive $20,000. The winner of the 2017 fight will then qualify for the 2018 fight and the runner up will not be able to compete in the fight for the next two years.

But it's not a match in the best of 5, is it?

Absolutely! We have changed the game format to make it more interesting. This fight is now best of 7 games.

The winner has to win 4 games to win the fight. After each game, the players will receive a 3 minute break.

Each player will also have a choice to take an extra 5 minutes break after each game.

Also, each player will have two 2-minute breaks which they can use during a game in progress.

We all know how the momentum of a match can change in seconds, so I am making these new rules for the fight to challenge each player even more.

That is going to be interesting to see!

Well my friend, this is the new concept I have come up with and I am hopeful that all of you will like this new idea. We all want to see the players fan following reach into the millions, so our next generation of players won’t hesitate to pick up this sport and know that they can make a good living.

Last words?

”If you don’t ask, then you don’t get”

“If you don’t fight for yourself, don’t expect other to fight for you”


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