Spectacular rise of 'Mr Chester' – migrant millionaire who lost on Judge Rinder but became a legend with racehorses
TO earn the nickname 'Mr Chester', chances are you need to be a bit of a character.
And in multi-millionaire businessman and racecourse legend Marwan Koukash, the north west city of 80,000 certainly has that.
Branded the 'migrant millionaire boss' when he appeared on Channel 4, Koukash used his genius business idea to leave behind an impoverished upbringing for a life of luxury instead.
Born on the west bank of the river Jordan in Palestine in December 1958, the Koukash family farm was bombed when he was seven.
Fearing more retaliation and with their livelihood in ruins, they walked barefoot for three days to relative safety in Jordan.
On the treacherous journey they were forced to hide in a cave as the relentless aerial bombardment continued.
Just three years later they fled Jordan for Kuwait before Koukash escaped again to settle in the north of England as a teenager.
He arrived with just £200, but went to university, got a PhD in electrical engineering and became a lecturer.
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A jack of all trades he worked as a waiter, mechanic, market trader and even nightclub bouncer to make ends meet.
His big break came in 1992 when he set up EuroMaTech, which went onto earn him a fortune at one time reported to be in the billions.
The company specialised in corporate training and financial services.
But if that sounds a little dry then it's best to focus on Koukash's other endeavours – some of which led to him being branded 'f***ing crazy'.
One of them is horses.
Koukash, now 63, told the Racing Post how over dinner one night he told friends he wanted 100 winners in a season.
He said: "I was having dinner with the likes of Luca Cumani, Ian Williams and Richard Fahey.
"They asked me what my ambition was. I said to have 100 winners in a year, and I think it was Luca who said I was f***ing crazy.
"A lot of people probably think I am but it made me determined to do it, and in 2012 I did it."
Overcoming adversity is something Koukash, who is famed for his close ties with Chester racecourse, has done all his life.
Mind you, there was one high profile case he lost.
In 2017, while owner of rugby league side Salford Red Devils, Koukash appeared on Judge Rinder to try to settle a dispute over the signing of a player with rival boss Derek Beaumont.
He claimed Koukash owed him £5,000 and Judge Rinder ruled he had to pay up.
In truth that sum of money means little to someone with Koukash's bank balance, and the whole thing was a bit of a stunt to raise the profile of rugby league anyway.
One thing that does mean a lot to 'Mr Chester', though, is victory in the city's biggest race.
Already a four-time winner, Koukash will have to rely on 28-1 outsider Reshoun to do the business on Friday.
But if there's one thing Koukash knows, it's how to defy the odds.
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