07-Jan 2017: HUTKAY.fit Fight Night @
Karim Abdel Gawad
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
HUTKAYFIT, NOVUMENERGY, LEGENDHEALTHCARE COGNITIVEPSYCHIATRY,
PREMIERINCOLOGYCONSULTANTS TCFFOUNDATION, ONESTEPDIAGNOSTIC,
And it’s Gawad,
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.
A 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
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 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
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
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
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
Well done to both really. Excellent squash, intense, good
quality, shame Greg seemed to develop that back problem at the
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
"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
"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
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
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,
Squash Fight 2017
is reaching new heights by the addition of a brand new sponsor,
Novum Energy, owned by Mr. Alfredo Vilas, is a physical oil
supply and trading company operating in Latin America and the
Mr. Vilas, an avid squash player, runs his company similar to
the way I approach squash, with out of the box thinking and
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!
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 Hutkay.fit 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 Hutkay.fit 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
Listen to what the NewKid in SquashTown has to say...
THE FIGHT: THE CONCEPT
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.
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.
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
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 Hutkay.fit 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.
”If you don’t ask, then you don’t get”
“If you don’t fight for yourself, don’t expect other to fight