KARACHI: Grandmaster Ashraf Tai on Thursday cleared the air over some of his quotes running around in the media that he had fixed a match during his kick-boxing career by saying that the fight he was referring to was a demonstration fight.
Tai was quoted as saying by several online news sites that he had taken $500,000 to lose a fight against Germany’s Howard Jackson. But the Grandmaster clarified that these fights are demo fights in which players get to choose their own fees for the show.
Tai further revealed that he was not confessing to anything but he was merely giving a lecture at a local event when he told the story of how he wanted to earn money in 1983 to support himself and get treatment for his injuries.
"It wasn't match-fixing," Tai told The Express Tribune. "I was giving a lecture at an event when I just said that I made money through martial arts and made a name too, and for this particular demo fight I asked for $500,000. Most of the karate demos are pre-set. Everyone knows about it. I never fixed any match. It is all a big misunderstanding. How can I fix a match and go back to my club and face by students. I've never done such a thing. All I was saying was that it was a demo fight and I got this amount of money."
Tai had an impeccable kick-boxing career where he lost just once from the 46 fights he fought during his career. His last major fight was in 1981 against American kick-boxer Don Wilson which, to date, remains his only defeat.
He said that in 1983 he was in dire need of money as he was running his own martial arts academy in Karachi and was going through a divorce and also raising his two children.
"I really needed the money," said Tai. "I had to take care of a lot of things. At that point I wanted to make sure my kids have a home and I accepted the offer for a demo fight. I even went to the US afterwards to get treatment for my injuries. I would never compromise my integrity for money.”
The 2003 and 2012 Pride of Performance recipient said that he is still busy running his martial arts academies.
After the revelation, one of Tai's oldest student Dilwaris Khan said that the allegations will not blemish his teacher's image in any way. "He didn't do anything wrong," said Dilwaris, while his own son Arbash Khan, who won the 45kg event at the World Muay Thai Championship in 2013, has been Tai's student. "He has always told us to be proud of being a Pakistani and he taught us martial arts. I don't feel that he compromised Pakistan's position in any way. In fact he served more by training thousands of children in his academy.”