Riyadh Al-Azzawi's kickboxing career goes back to a very young age. He started his sporting career in Iraq where he became champion, winning the gold medal when he was 15 years old. After winning the Arab Kickboxing Championships, Riyadh moved to London and continued his kickboxing career and was able to maintain his championship title and challenged for the British title. In 2003, Riyadh successfully defended his British title and won the European Championship bringing him a lot of attention from international media. Then, in 2008, he won the World Champion title in Stratford, London.
As a result of his title, he became hugely popular in Britain, Iraq and the Arab World. Al-Azzawi has also worked in arts and promotions, appearing in advertising, sponsorship of athletic items and in a video clip as an athlete.
His brothers Mohammed and Ahmed Al-Azzawi are also sportsmen and Mohammed was a European champion in full contact.
In summer 2009, Al Arabiya Satellite Television reported that after a hiatus of almost one year, coming out of personal adversity, Riyadh Al-Azzawi had reportedly returned to training in order to defend his WKN and WKA world championship titles against challengers. On March 4, 2016 he will be defending his World Kickboxing Network world title against American-English Brian Connor in London, UK.
The kickboxing champion however passed through a turbulent period in his life because of his association with Lebanese pop diva Suzanne Tamim who was brutally murdered in Dubai. Riyadh Al-Azzawi told The Sunday Times in an exclusive interview that at the time of her murder, he and Suzanne were "married" (this despite vehement claims by Tamim's second husband and manager Adel Matouk that he and Suzanne Tamim were still legally married after she divorced her first husband Ali Muzannar. Matouk claims they had never divorced, despite the couple's bitter conflict and separation).
Riyadh Al-Azzawi had met Tamim, in Harrods in 2006. She was already receiving some threats to her life and he, a world kickboxing champion, had offered to help protect her. The couple became close and reportedly engaged in 2007. Al-Azzawi and Tamim stayed with each other for 18 months before she was murdered during her stay in Dubai.
Al-Azzawi said in the interview that Tamim was being subjected to a string of threats and that he warned the London police of these serious threats on Suzanne's life. "I was there to protect her [Suzanne Tamim], but was doing it all by myself", claimed Al-Azzawi, "I didn’t get any help". Al-Azzawi said his spouse's former lover, Egyptian business tycoon and member of Egyptian Parliament Hisham Talaat Moustafa had offered Suzanne Tamim $50m to lure her away from Al-Azzawi and marry him — and threatened to pay $2m to a hitman to have Suzanne killed in revenge if she refused to marry him.
Suzanne Tamim's body was found on July 28, 2008 in Dubai. The courts later found she was murdered by an Egyptian former police officer Mohsen al-Sukkari in return for $2 million from the business tycoon Hisham Talaat Moustafa, according to statements made by the suspected murderer to the investigators in Cairo. Consequently, the parliamentary immunity was dropped from Mr. Moustafa and he was arrested and charged. Both el-Sukkari and Moustafa were found guilty and sentenced to death by an Egyptian court on May 21, 2009.Iraq Champion World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO)
Arab Champion World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO)
British Champion World Kickboxing Network (WKN)
European Champion World Kickboxing Association (WKA) and World Kickboxing Network (WKN)
World Champion World Kickboxing Network (WKN)