LAST Saturday night in the Czech Republic, 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Mohammad Rabii experienced a rare “double” as he successfully turned pro and a few hours later became a father for the first time.
The 23-year-old Rabii, fighting out of Morocco, turned in a sensational professional debut, stopping Lazlow Kovacs II (11-6) at the 2:35 mark of the opening round at Sportovni Hala Kralovka in Prague.
Rabii entered the ring knowing his wife, Imane Imari, was in labour. “On the way to the arena,” Rabii explained, “I received a call that my wife was in labour and my son was coming soon. The fight couldn’t come quick enough for me. I was very excited but I had to concentrate on my first fight as a pro because it was such a big moment for me. The news later that my son had arrived was reason for a double celebration.
“Every time I connected on Kovacs, I could see that it was affecting him. I knew it was all over because I hit him with a big punch that me and my coach, Donald Leary, had worked on in training camp. I cannot wait for my next fight in April.”
Rabii’s son (unnamed at this writing) tipped the scale at 10 pounds, 3 ounces. He and his mother are both in good health.
Rabii was one of the leading pro prospects coming of the Olympic Games in Brazil. He had dropped a decision (0-3) in the semifinals to Uzbekistan boxer Shakhram Giyasov, the eventual silver medallist. Rabii captured a coveted gold medal at the 2015 AIBA World Amateur Championships, ironically, defeating 2016 Olympic gold medallist Daniyar Yeleussinov in the welterweight division championship final.
Rabbi had planned to make his pro debut prior to the arrival of his baby, who was due February 18, training in Cork, Ireland for his originally scheduled pro debut February 28 in Casablanca. However, due to reasons beyond the event organizers’ control, that show was unfortunately cancelled.
“I had to reschedule his pro debut for March 11th against the same opponent, Kovacs,” said Rabii’s manager Gary Hyde, president of Nowwhere2Hyde Management. “Kovacs fights between 154 and 168 pounds, which is much heavier than the 147-pound welterweight division in which Rabii fights.
“Mohammad learned during his warm-up for the fight that his wife was in labour and close to delivering his first child. He had other things to take care of before concentrating on his family affairs, wasting no time as he annihilated Kovacs until dropping his Hungarian opponent hard near the end of the opening round. Czech spectators gasped as Rabii’s thunderous punches connected. Kovacs somehow got to his feet to beat the count but he was visibly shaken and the referee wisely stopped the fight. Rabii had no time to celebrate, though, as he rushed to contact his family back in Morocco, happily learning his wife had given birth to the couple’s baby boy at 7 a.m. Sunday morning.”