Former boxing champion Mike Tyson announced the opening of the world's first Mike Tyson Academy in Dubai last week.

Business Reporter Shoshana knows her way around Europe and the Middle East with a notebook and video camera. She has worked as a multi-media journalist for Channel NewsAsia, Ruptly video news agency, the UN, and most recently, with 7Days in Dubai. She speaks Arabic and English and has degrees in Middle East History and Political Science.

Mike Tyson’s new boxing endeavor in the UAE could reawaken the sport in the MENA region, said Patricia Colombo- Beyeler, business development director at the Mike Tyson Academy.

“The history of boxing is young here, and were able to bring the boxing history to Dubai,” she said at the opening of the Mike Tyson Academy in Dubai last week.

The new global gym franchise, incorporating both fitness and boxing, would be headquartered in Las Vegas, CEO, Frederic “Frenchy” Madzimba, co-founder of the Mike Tyson Academy, said.

Dubai will be home to one of eight such franchises to open around the world by the end of the year.

“What we need to understand is that it’s a global franchise. Not just for the Middle East, not just for Europe…we have already signed contracts in France, Australia, New Zealand, and North Africa, including Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.”

Karim Hocine, COO and president of the Mike Tyson Academy, said that in the next few weeks, the academy’s franchises will open in France, Australia, and Cyprus.

These centers will feature cardio, strength, functional training and boxing facilities, including a full-scale boxing ring, Colombo-Beyeler said.

The team behind the Mike Tyson Academy said that they also hope to develop female boxing and spot the next rising stars in the world of boxing.

“Our goal as a whole is to have our facilities in all countries so we can find that diamond in the rough,” he said.

Colombo-Beyeler said that the partnership with Tyson is not just a business transaction and that the former champion is personally invested in the concept. “We actually are going to have Mike as our leader in all our academies.”

The locations for two clubs in the UAE, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have not yet been decided, Hocine said.

“We found two locations in Dubai and two locations in Abu Dhabi and we’ve been waiting Mike to show him and wait for his decision, because Mike will be the last one to take the decision.”

The 50-year-old former fighter said that the new heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, could make Dubai the next boxing hub if a big fight of his is held in the Emirates.

“Once it’s done, especially with the new champion [Anthony Joshua], if he comes here, once it’s done, this will be a main hub for boxing. It just has to be done once with the right person, and I believe the new heavyweight champion is the right person.”