Elite Fight Force gym in Sefton is usually bustling with young children and teenagers taking part in Mixed Martial Arts classes.
On Wednesday night, the gym in western Sydney hosted kids boxing, a beginner’s class, men’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu then an advanced boxing class.
But the community hub now resembles a crime scene as hours later, at 6.30am on Thursday, 40-year-old dad Taha Sabbagh was found outside the Carlingford St gym with a gunshot wound and died at the scene.
He was killed in what police suspect was a targeted organised crime murder, shot at least six times as his screaming 12-year-old son sat “right next to him” in his luxury Mercedes.
Shortly after, the gym posted to its 11,000 Instagram followers that it would be closed until further notice.
“We are very sorry for any inconvenience, Elite Fight Force will be closed today and all classes will be cancelled for the day,” the post read.
“Please bear with us and stay updated with our stories for any new announcements.
Taha Sabbagh (right), 40, has been identified as the man killed outside the gym. He met and drove celebrities and recently posted a pic of YouTuber Logan Paul (left) with his kids. Picture: Instagram
The gym, according to its website, trains more than 300 students and has more six coaches on its books. It promotes itself as having more than 50 years of experience and 10 athletes currently fighting.
Of the 23 professional and 40 amateur fights completed, athletes out of Elite Fight Force had a 96 per cent success rate, the gym said.
The gym has six sponsors including Marvel Skip Bins, Prime Design Group, APH Group, Prestige Traffic Management, AMS Solutions Au and Masnad Health Clinic, according to its social profiles.
Prominent boxer Hany Sbat is one of Elite Fight Force’s biggest success stories, with the athlete having four professional wins to his name and zero losses over 12 years of fighting.
Khabib Nurmagomedov was another standout at the gym, winning 29 professional fights and 100 per cent of his rounds and amateur fights.
The gym has been shut down while investigations take place into the death. Picture: Instagram
Mr Sabbagh, 40, has been identified as the man killed outside the gym, with the man in the car with his 12-year-old son at the time.
At least 10 shots were heard before Mr Sabbagh was found injured by paramedics.
Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said he believed it was a targeted shooting but said police would be investigating whether he was the intended target.
“He was not well known to police, he was associated with some people who are well known to police and have strong criminal activity connected to them.”
Mr Sabbagh, a celebrity chauffeur, has been remembered as a “beautiful person who’s life was taken mistakenly and undeservedly”.
In August last year, he shared photos of himself with social media star Hasbulla – a 20-year-old man with dwarfism from Russia who rose to fame in 2020 during the Covid pandemic.
It’s understood his ties to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) community connected him with Mr Sabbagh during his trip to Australia last year.
Mr Sabbagh in February also uploaded a photo of social media influencer and professional wrestler Logan Paul smiling with his kids to Instagram but with comments deactivated.
He has also uploaded several photos of himself posing with Elite Fight Force mixed martial artist Khabib Nurmagomedov.
The gym told students it would be closed for the day. Picture: Instagram
Tributes have been shared online to the husband and father who was “loved by many”.
“With great sadness and shock we announce our beloved brother Taha Sabbagh has returned to his Creator,” one Facebook post read.
“Taha was a loving son, brother, father, husband, he was loved by many. He will be missed greatly by all who knew him.
“We ask Allah to give his family, wife and children comfort during this test.”
A witness told 2GB he heard about 10 bullets fired in the street outside his car workshop on Thursday morning.
Mr Sabbagh uploaded several photos of himself posing with Elite Fight Force mixed martial artist Khabib Nurmagomedov. Picture: Instagram
“I was in the back of the workshop just before 7am and I heard a series of bangs which I was hoping was a car backfiring, and as I heard a car speed off, there was another series of bangs,” David said.
“I hesitated to go to the front of the workshop obviously and then I slowly walked to the windows and saw people coming out.
“Within minutes there was a load of ambulances, police everywhere and then we saw a man on the ground not in a good way.
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“I’m glad I don’t open the door in the morning.”
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