Follow Vogue Man Arabia

How Saudi Arabian Sensation Ziyad “Zizo” Almaayouf is Taking the Boxing World By Storm

Jacket, vest, Maison Margiela; inside shirt, Diesel; shirt around the waist, Tommy Hilfiger; pants, Givenchy; watch, Ferragamo; bag, Moynat; shoes, Tod’s

In the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, amid the shimmering sands and towering skyscrapers, emerges a trailblazer. Meet Ziyad “Zizo” Almaayouf, the first Saudi Arabian international professional boxer. With a just-begun but promising career of one year, Almaayouf has catapulted himself onto the global boxing stage, mesmerizing audiences worldwide with his personality and boxing style.

Turtleneck, Mango; vest, pants, Givenchy; jacket around the waist, Lacoste; shoes, Santoni; headphones, watch, Apple

Almaayouf made his professional debut last August, securing a win with a first-round knockout against Mexican powerhouse Jose Alfredo Alatorre. With that thunderous punch, he became the first fighter from Saudi Arabia to claim victory in a professional boxing bout. Since that night, he has crisscrossed the globe, participating in four more international fights, the latest being a dominant unanimous decision triumph in Poland this past August. “Being part of and fighting at such extraordinary boxing events is a huge privilege, but with that comes just as much pressure,” notes the boxer. “It’s all worth it in the end to represent Saudi Arabia and the Arab world on huge platforms in front of a worldwide audience.”

Blazer, Valentino; top, Zara; belts, Saint Laurent; watch, Hublot

Almaayouf, who trained relentlessly for four years before his debut, owes his ascent to none other than International Boxing Hall of Fame trainer and former two-time world champion, James “Buddy” McGirt, who has mentored him in Florida. Coach McGirt sees a luminous future for this young and prodigious talent. Almaayouf remembers that he played various sports from a very young age. “I loved it. What I stuck to most was tennis – it’s what my parents, especially my dad, wanted me to focus on. Time and again, I would observe the boxing sessions while warming up for tennis. I knew that was what I wanted to do. But at home, I got the quickest no. I was devastated and eventually, my mother decided that she would take me boxing but in secret. We continued that for a whole year without my dad knowing. After he found out, he saw how passionate and dedicated to the sport and cause I was, and he has supported my journey ever since.”

Blazer, Prada; watch, Hublot

“To many spectators, these achievements and moments might be small milestones, but for us, in Saudi and the Arab world, this is historical. No one’s done it before, and to be the first to do anything, is something that can never be taken away from us,” comments the boxer. “I’m blessed to be the one in this position to cement history for my country, even if it means I lose myself in the process; this is a tough career with a lot on the line. The amount of support and love from home and even the international audience has made this journey a very amazing one so far.”

Blazer, Gucci; shirt, Brunello Cucinelli; pants, bag, Dior; sandals, Ancient Greek; necklace, Dolce & Gabbana

Almaayouf and the Kingdom are determined to host the most significant battles on their soil. “My aim is not only to see my dreams come true, but more importantly, to make it easier on those who come after me in boxing from Saudi Arabia and the Arab world to achieve their own dreams. That’s the real goal of this career and story,” says the athlete. “Being the first to do something means I’ll be the first to make a lot of mistakes; my job is to make sure the fighters who come after me don’t make those mistakes, so they can achieve more and maybe be even better.”

Jacket, turtleneck, Fendi; pants, Massimo Dutti ; shoes, Puma; sunglasses, Gentle Monster

Coat, Louis Vuitton; blazer, shoes, Dior; top, H&M; pants, Loro Piana; necklace, Cos; hat, Hugo Boss

Jumper, Berluti; hoodie around the waist, pants, Dolce & Gabbana; gloves, Rival; shoes, Balenciaga

Coat, Loewe; shirts, CDLP; pants, Boggi Milano; belt, Michael Kors; belt bag, Longchamp

Originally published in the Fall/Winter 2023 issue of Vogue Man Arabia

Style: Mohammad Hazem Rezq
Grooming: R.Kavya
Photography assistant: Louis Patrick Azurin
Style assistant: Neymat Master
Producer: Sam Allison
Location: Spartans Boxing Club, Arjan; Chase Sports and Fitness Club; WrestlingME 

Read Next: Mohammed Yahya Will Be the First Emirati Athlete to Join UFC This Year

View All
Vogue Collection