Suit? Check. Tie? Check. MMA fighters? Check. You would not always put these items together but so was the case Wednesday night Aug. 26, 2009 at Ruby Skye in San Francisco.
A who’s who list of Strikeforce fighters came out to support Fairtex boxing coach and fighter Tariq Azim. A native of Afghanistan, Azim is the co-founder of the Hope of Mother organization alongside his mother Mina Wali.
The purpose of Hope of Mother is to develop and maintain successful relations through their current and future programs in Afghanistan and the United States, achieving prominence and a high level of visibility both domestically and internationally.
A variety of Strikeforce fighters were in attendance to show their support. Among others, those present included Josh McDonald, Luke Stewart, Gilbert Melendez, Jake Shields, Mike Bruno (VP of Fairtex) Ryron Gracie, and Rener Gracie.
With all the negative press we see MMA fighters receive, it was nice to see these athletes getting behind a worthy cause and donate their time, equipment, and resources. It was a pleasure to see how many people donated without hesitation to a man and a cause. This was a reflection the type of person Tariq Azim is.
Not only did the martial arts world show their support, but Oakland Raider Sam Williams provided a gift package as part of the silent auction.
Hip Hop artist Zion I rocked the crowd with a private concert. They entertained the audience with an energy-charged set of lyrics from their recent album. While performing on stage, Zion I was joined by a traditional Afghan dancer who moved to the beats of the popular hip hop group. It was a symbol of cooperation that summed up the night perfectly.
Guests in attendance were treated to a sneak peak of the upcoming documentary Fight like a Man. The film documents the progression of the women’s boxing program started by Azim’s foundation. To say the film’s images were moving is an understatement.
Grasping his AK-47, Azim sat on the steps of a building that shows the effects of the years of war that have ravaged the country. Afghanistan is a country where young girls and women are not even allowed to learn basic skills like reading and writing; to learn how to jab and uppercut, is a revolutionary concept with possible adverse reactions.
Azim, along with Mina, went to the local “warlords” in the surrounding areas of Jalalabad along the Pakistani border, in order to ensure that his personal safety and the safety of his students would be secure. He stressed that communication with these native people is a stepping stone to change.
With the approval of the local leaders within the community, Azim has set forth with his vision to educate and empower the future generation of Afghan youth. This is how change starts for a country that is so resistant to such radical ideas.
With the critical focus mixed martial arts often receives from the mainstream media, it was refreshing to be exposed to such an amazingly positive endeavor. So, to the entire Hope of Mother family that worked behind the scenes to put this event together, we at PRO MMA (promma.info) salute you. To see photos of the enitre event check out the gallery.