Spoils of Call of Duty war go to Tairawhiti family
Never mind Fight Island, the proposed private location for Ultimate Fight Championship competitors.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and UFC fighter Shane Young and Gisborne-raised philanthropist/musician Mustafa Sheikh recently went into combat with each other with weapons of Esports destruction in their respective lockdown bubbles for a $1000 purse.
But instead of the victor pocketing his spoils of war, the winnings went to a Tairawhiti family.
Sheikh — the founder of The Bread Charity, a non-profit charity aimed at eliminating child poverty saw an opportunity to challenge Young to 10 one-on-one rounds of the video game Call of Duty.
A wager of $1000 was laid down, with each of the combatants playing in his own bubble and the winnings going to a family in need.
“We wanted to spread some positivity during this tough period,” said Sheikh, who is better known as Mussie or his musical alias Lil Mussie.
“Both of us have ties to the East Coast so saw it fitting to donate to an East Coast family.”
Mussie contacted Young, aka Sugar, with the idea of raising money for Bread and for the winnings from Call of Duty to go to a family in need.
“Mussie got in touch with me for this and to raise more awareness of his charity,” says Young. “I thought while we're in lockdown it would be a cool thing to do.”
Napier-born Young went on to beat Mussie and credited his experience in the ring, where a fighter needs fast reaction skills and scanning abilities to succeed.
“I got the better of Mussie because I'm skilled at scanning left and right.”
Under the terms of the virtual battle agreement, the vanquished was to find a family to give the money to.
Mussie contacted Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz, who helped locate a family who would greatly benefit from $1000 at this time.
London-born Mussie's family, originally from Pakistan came to Gisborne when he was five, while Young has strong family connections here.
The two men share a similar vision, says Young, who has family in Gisborne and, as a kid, spent holidays at Patutahi.
“In our lives we have had opportunities outside the East Coast bubble. We share the experience of coming to Auckland and seeing what the world had to offer and we have gone on to do things in our own way with success.
“With my connection with Gisborne, and with Mussie, who is of a similar age (Young is 26), I wanted to show people what people our age are doing.”
Having started his professional MMA career in 2012, Young made his UFC debut in 2017.
As the fastest growing sport in the world, MMA will one day be seen as a code with the same recognition as more traditional New Zealand sports, he says.
Centres such as Gisborne MMA school Te Kura Awhio are contributing to that growth, he says.
Mussie's philanthropic endeavours saw him last year visit his old home town and the East Coast with All Black and Coastie Nehe Milner-Skudder to talk to children about their respective journeys.