Kazakh boxing champions: punching one’s way up to the galaxy

In 2013, Astana is set to host the AIBA world boxing champion tournament for adults. Winners from all over the world are expected to be in for a tough ride in order to defend their titles, especially where their Kazakh adversaries are concerned. The latter’s performance at the London Summer Olympics this year has been most encouraging and is raising high hopes for Kazakhstan’s national boxing team Astana Arlans in upcoming contests. According to Timur Kulibayev, chairman of the Kazakh Boxing Federation which organises the 2013 competition, the team must hold out against Dynamo Moscow on March 23 and 30 in order to make it to the finals. It means no winter holidays but months of hard training in store for Kazakhstan’s rising punchers – male and female alike.

BY CHARLES VAN DER LEEUW, KZW SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR

Kazakh boxing champions: punching one’s way up to the galaxy“At the Independence Palace yesterday President Nursultan Nazarbayev personally handed state awards to the winners of [this year’s] Summer Olympics in London in a ceremony feting the National Olympic Team,” the Kazakhstanskaya Pravda reported on August 18. “Among those feting the Olympic winners were their coaches, family and friends, awaiting for the cortege carrying them and making its triumphant progress through Astana streets to arrive. On their arrival they walked on the red carpet to the blaring of triumphant fanfares and standing ovation. These are cyclist Alexander Vinokurov, boxer Serik Sapiyev, weightlifter Ilya Ilyin, who were awarded the Order of Otan, Weightlifting champions Svetlana Podobedova, Zulfiya Chinshanlo, Maya Maneza and track and field athlete Olga Rypakova, who were welcomed as heroes. Indeed seven gold medals, one silver and five bronze medals deserve the highest honors. Compared to the previous, Beijing Olympics, our Olympic gold yield has gone 3.5 times up. From the 29th place Kazakhstan rose to the 12th position in the medal standing.

Undisputed star of the event turned out to be earlier Olympic medal winner Serik Sapiev, who scored gold in a surprise victory over his popular British rival in London. “Serik Sapiyev of Kazakhstan won the gold medal in the men’s welterweight division Sunday at the Olympic boxing tournament, overcoming Freddie Evans’ home-crowd backing in a 17-9 victory,” The Associated Press reported on August 12. “Sapiyev earned redemption for his Olympic performance four years ago in Beijing, where the two-time world champion lost in the first round. Sapiyev dominated Evans, the cagey fighter from Britain who unexpectedly reached the gold-medal bout. Sapiyev took a 10-5 lead into the third round by soundly outworking his opponent, connecting with power shots from multiple angles. Sapiyev’s gold is the sixth for Kazakhstan in its Olympic boxing history. Sapiyev fought at light welterweight in Beijing before moving up in preparation for London.”

Sapiyev has an amateur background and won the world title in the light welterweight (-64 kg) division in 2005 and 2007 and Olympic Gold 2012 at welterweight, his official biography reads. The fleetfooted southpaw counterpuncher defeated Dilshod Mahmudov at the 2005 World Amateur Boxing Championships. He also won bronze at the 2006 Asian Games after losing to Thailand’s Olympic Gold medallist Manus Boonjumnong whom he knocked down in the fight but still lost 18-22. At the 2007 World Amateur Boxing Championships he reached the final by beating Manus conqueror Masatsugu Kawachi where he won against Russian fellow southpaw Gennady Kovalev 20:5. At the 2008 Olympics (results) he once again lost to defending champion Manus Boonjumnong 5:7 and moved up in weight. At the 2009 World Amateur Boxing Championships he was upset in the semis by Russian southpaw Andrey Zamkovoy and won Bronze. At the 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships he won Silver, losing to Ukrainian Taras Shelestyuk.

“Serik Sapiyev stunned a boisterous home crowd on Sunday when he pummelled his way to welterweight gold with a 17-9 demolition of Britain’s Freddie Evans and earned Kazakhstan their first boxing title of the Games,” Reuters reported on August 12. “Kazakhstan, a rising force in amateur boxing who will host next year’s world championships, pocketed a bronze a nd a silver el sewhere in the men’s draw but when Sapiyev bounded into the ring, it looked like he was fully intent on getting gold. […] The world championship silver medallist was much the quicker boxer in the opening exchanges, using his longer reach to keep Evans at bay with a right jab and scoring when he got in close with powerful right hooks. Evans, who had been improving with every round, beating Ukraine’s world champion Taras Shelestyuk in the semi-finals, looked shocked as the Kazak easily took the second round to open up a 10-5 lead going into the last. Any slim chance Evans stood of adding to Britain’s bumper Olympic gold haul evaporated when the busy Sapiyev landed all the powerful shots in the final round, one of them knocking Evans’s gumshield out of his mouth. After three rounds of absolute domination, Sapiyev threw his hands in the air and screamed as he returned to his corner. He left the arena draped in the baby blue Kazakh flag as a tired Evans exited with his head hanging.”

Apart from Sapiyev, three more Kazakh punching gentlemen and one punching lady took Olympic medals home from the bank of the Thames. “Kazakh boxer Ivan Dychko could not pip Anthony Joshua of Britain in men’s super heavy + 91 kg boxing event,” Kazinform wrote on August 11. “Ivan won bronze medal at the Olympic Games in London. “Anthony Joshua, at 6ft 7in tall, broke a scoring deadlock against the 6ft 9in Kazakhstan giant Ivan Dychko with a third-round spurt,” the Daily Mail reported on the fight. “World bronze medalist Dychko of Kazakhstan settled for bronze after a final-round thumping from second seed Joshua,” Novosti reported. “The fighters were inseparable in the first two rounds, tied at eight apeice going into the decider. The final round saw Joshua draw blood from Dychko’s nose, and used it to build up momentum that drove him to victory; the final score 13-11.”

Ivan Dychko was born on 11 August 190. As an amateur boxer he was to win a Bronze Medal at super heavyweight at the 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships and at the 2012 Olympics. He is 2,02m. At the AIBA Youth World Championships 2008 at Guadalajara, MEX he won silver at 91KG losing 8:10 to Erislandy Savon from Cuba, his biography informs. He moved up to Super Heavyweight a year later, winning his first of three national championships at the weight. At the 2009 World Amateur Boxing Championships he lost his second bout 11:15 to his Russian counterpart Denis Sergeev. At the 2010 Asian Games in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, he beat Sardor Abdullayev from Uzbekistan 8:1 in the quarterfinal, Rohollah Hosseini from Iran 6:4 in the semifinal but lost the final 5:7 to local Chinese favorite Zhang Zhilei. In 2011 he beat Roman Kapitanenko from Ukraine 9:4 at a local tournament. At the World Amateur Boxing Championships held later that year, he got past Zhilei 13:7 and Croat Filip Hrgovich but lost the semi final to eventual winner Magomedrasul Majidov 9:16.

The second one to score has been Daniyar Yeleussinov, born on 13 March 1991 in Astana who fought at the Olympics at junior welterweight. Yeleussinov won the Asian Olympic Qualifier. He also won a gold medial at the 2010 Asian Games. At the 2012 Summer Olympics (results) he won his first two bouts.  “Daniyar Yeleussinov of Kazakhstan ended U.S. Marine Sgt. Jamel Herring’s Olympic boxing aspirations with a 19-9 victory Tuesday in their opening light welterweight bout,” Faxnews reported on July 31, “Herring served two tours of duty in Iraq and even returned to boxing after his infant daughter’s death, becoming a captain of the U.S. team while reaching his first Olympics. But the Long Island native couldn’t keep up with Yeleussinov, whose aggression and quick hands repeatedly got Herring in trouble during the first two rounds. Yeleussinov mostly spent the third round avoiding exchanges, but Herring couldn’t score enough points for a comeback.”

Another promising name is that of Adilbek Niyazymbekov. “Boxer from Kazakhstan Adilbek Niyazymbetov took silver medal in Men’s Light Heavy (81 kg) final bout,” Kazinform reported on August 12. “The first round was won by Adilbek, whereas the second was overwhelmed by the Russian boxer. The third round was a decisive one. Adilbek lost to Egor Mekhontcev from Russia on points. This is the first boxing silver for Kazakhstan and the only one silver medal for the country.” Like Dychko, Niyazymbetov (born May 19, 1989) started his career as an amateur boxer who won Silver at light heavyweight at the 2011 World Championships (results) and the 2012 Olympics. He is a southpaw. At the 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships he qualified for the Olympics by winning silver. He beat Jeysson Monroy, Meng Fanlong and Elshod Rasulov but lost the final to Cuban Julio C?sar la Cruz.

“Marina Volnova clinches the second bronze medal for Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan’s boxing queen met with Claressa Shields from the U.S. in Women’s Middle (75 kg) Semifinals,” Kazinform reported on August 8. “In a tough bout 15:29 Marina lost to the American boxer.” Born 26 July 1989 in Kyzylorda, Volnova won the Bronze Medal in the Women’s boxing middleweight 75kg category in the 2012 Summer Olympics. “Great Britain’s reigning world champion Savannah Marshall suffered a shock 16-12 defeat in her opening bout to Marina Volnova of Kazakhstan,” the Daily Mail wrote in a report. “Marshall lacked a little timing in the early stages against the former world silver medallist, who lunged in with right hands and had some success in knocking the Hartlepool fighter out of her rhythm. Marshall began to land right hands in the second, but Volnova also stepped up the pace, bulling side and finding some success with uppercuts, and at the halfway stage of a nervy affair the score was level at 7-7.”

Among the women expected to score high in years to come is Nazgul Boranbayeva, a Kazakh bronze medalist at the 2006 Women’s World Boxing Championship and the 2010 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championship. On the male side, veterans like Galib Musayevich Jafarov, Bakhtiyar Karipullauly Artayev, Serik Samatovich Yeleuov and Vassiliy Jirov – nicknamed the Tiger of Kazakhstan. Artayev was born March 14, 1983 in Taraz, and won the only Gold medal for Kazakhstan in the men’s welterweight division (- 69 kg) at the 2004 Summer Olympics, according to his biography. He was also the Winner of the Val Barker Trophy for the outstanding boxer of the 2004 Olympics Games. After the 2004 Summer Olympics he became a living legend of boxing in Kazakhstan; one of the Taraz sport centres was named after him and a book was written. born 4 April 1974 in Balkhash, Kazakhstan) is a professional Kazakhstani boxer and former IBF cruiserweight champion, currently fighting out of Las Vegas under Thell Torrence. His record stands at 37 wins, 3 losses, and 1 draw with 30 wins by knockout. Jirov won the Olympic gold medal at Atlanta in 1996. Soon after, he moved to the United States, settling in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he married and began to train at the SAR Club’s boxing gym.

Jirov made his debut as a professional on 18 January 1997, with a two round knockout of Vince Brown in Las Vegas. He won eleven fights that first year, all by knockout, including wins over Exum Speight and Art Jimmerson. In 1998, he won eight fights, six before the final bell. In 2002 Jirov, by then managed by the Sugar Ray Leonard promotion company, had begun to have career problems, and he was able to defend his crown once that year, beating former world Middleweight champion Jorge Castro of Argentina by a 12 round decision on 1 February at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix. On 6 November 2003 he won the NABO regional cruiserweight title with a six round knockout of Joseph Kiwanuka in Phoenix. Jirov’s next fight was against ex-heavyweight champion, Michael Moorer. Jirov was beaten by Moorer via TKO in the ninth round. Over the next six months, Jirov defeated Forrest Neal by knockout in round 3 and defeated Troy Beats by unanimous decision. His next fight was against former heavyweight and cruiserweight contender Orlin Norris. Jirov and Norris fought to a draw. In his first return bout to the cruiserweight division (April 20, 2006) he defeated Luke Munsen in a unanimous decision. On 14 July 2007 Jirov defeated Kenny ‘The Raven’ Craven by TKO in second round of 10 round scheduled bout.

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