Mozart of the Boxing!
SERIK KONAKBAYEV IS A FIRST KAZAKH BOXER WHO BECAME THE CHAMPION OF EUROPE (1979) AND USSR (1980), THE FIRST MEDALIST OF THE OLYMPIC GAMES (1980), FIRST KAZAKH MEDALIST OF THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (1982), THE FIRST SOVIET BOXER WHO HAD WON THE WORLD CUP TWO CONSECUTIVE TIMES (1979, 1980). S. KONAKBAYEV WAS RECOGNIZED THE BEST AMATEUR BOXER OF THE WORLD IN 1981. NO OTHER KAZAKH BOXER COULD NOT ACHIEVE SUCH LEVEL IN SOVIET PERIOD.
Serik could not become the Champion of the Olympics or the World Champion. But his reputation in sports was not less than of the champions of Olympics or the world. Why? Because Serik was not like anyone else at the ring and had his own specific style gifted by the God.
1979 was an especial year for the world boxing. Previously unknown young guy took the attention of the whole boxing world. The legendary coach Felix Stamm who had trained five champions of the Olympics said: “This boy is a boxing genius”, when he saw Serik at the ring. Not only Polish Stamm was wondered by him but also the Moscow specialists and commentators noted Konakbayev and highlighted him. Thus after the European Championship 1979 in Cologne all the people remembered Konakbayev when discussing the boxing.
We got very happy whenever a Moscow commentator Boris Gubin glorified Serik. So not only Kazakhs were proud of Serik. Even Kostya Tszyu’s mother from the Far East had become a fan of Serik. Once she said to Kostya: “Learn the basics of the boxing from Konakbayev”. That was told by Amateur Champion and eight-time Professional Champion of the World Kostya Tszyu during the 50-th birthday of Konakbayev (October 25, 2009).
In 1979 we were 17 years old and had not known that Konakbayev made a revolution in the boxing world. Felix Stamm, Alcides Sagarra (Cuba) and other boxing experts recognized that Serik brought the beauty to the boxing.
The Chairman of the USSR Boxing Federation of those time, the famous astronaut Pavel Popovich said: “I’d say that the mastership of Konakbayev is equal to the heights of the space achievements. His appearance at the ring was the significant moment of our nation’s (meaning USSR – K.R.) sports. I am proud of Serik like he is my son”.
May 9, 1979. Cologne, Federal Republic of Germany. Semifinals of the European Championship. German boxer, the medalist of the World Championship and the Champion of Europe Kruger and Soviet boxer Konakbayev were at the ring. 34 years ago Soviet Union had fought Germany at the World War II. It was felt that German fans were excited and showed how important it was.
But 19-years-old Serik Konakbayev was found by his competitive and strong mastership. Fans applauded to the Kazakh hero after his victory. That fight was one of the most difficult and the best one.
Konakbayev had fought Patrizio Oliva and became the Champion of Europe. That victory of Serik had risen the spirit of Kazakh people. The whole nation got inspired. But at that time not everyone knew that the gates of the golden period of Kazakh boxing were opened and Konakbayev had the key to this gate at that moment. But nobody could think that Serik inspired thousands of Kazakh boys to go to the ring after his European victory. Later we found the Yermakhan Ibraiymov, Bolat Zhumadilov, Arkadiy Topayev, Karimzhan Abdrakhmanov, Nurzhan Smanov and Bolat Niyazymbetov were among them. Even Kostya Tszyu from the Far East started doing boxing.
Mars Urkembayev, Rector of Zhambyl Hydro-Reclamation and Construction Institute reminded that after the victory of Konakbayev the number of people doing boxing within the institute had grown from 40 to 600, and those were successful not only in Soviet but in European boxing. In 1981-1990 such boxers as Serik Nurkazov, Beibit Yeszhanov, Assylbek Kilymov, Yerik Hakimov, Rashid Kabirov, Karimzhan Abdrakhmanov, Bolat Mankenov, Bolat Zhararov and Aleksandr Miroshnichenko became the pride of the nation. Serik started the number of gold medals of the Olympics for Kazakhs.
In 1980 Serik Konakbayev started his challenge for the gold medal of the Moscow Olympics.
He participated the USSR Championship in spring of 1980. The boxing team had a rest at the Black Sea after the Soviet Championship for two weeks. Many sportsmen got weight within two weeks of freedom. Serik and the team started “losing” the weight in Kislovodsk. They had trainings three times a day. Additionally they had political lectures of the Soviet ideological system. They visited lectures for several hours after the complex trainings. Leaving the lectures they return to the trainings. They psychological conditions of the boxers got lower and their physical conditions decreased as well.
The team arrived to Kiev after the trainings in Kislovodsk. They started special trainings at Dinamo football club base.
Serik ate a piece of meat and bread with one cup of tea. Then he did trainings two times and went to sleep after feeling tired. And every day he did that. Additionally they did training fights with Cuban boxers. In the hottest days of June Serik fought in warm clothing and competitors are in shirts. Three boxers fought against Konakbayev one after one. Round after round.
After the morning exhausting trainings they went to political lectures. There were no powers for any politics after such trainings. After several days those lectures totally enervated sportsmen. If those lectures were cancelled and guys could have a rest for an hour then they could have more energy to go on. Also the sportsmen participating the Olympics were announced a week before the beginning. And that also took the attention of guys and kept them nervous.
Being brief: Soviet boxers got weak before the Moscow Olympics.
So the Olympic Games started. Serik ate only a piece of meat and bread with one cup of tea. That was his meal for two months. Keeping all the strength he had Serik went through the semifinals.
His next opponent was Cuban Jose Aguilar. He watched several of his fights. He had great power, used both hands but did not have much mastership. “I can fight him by tactics. It should not be difficult”, – Serik thought.
He understood that he had been wrong right after getting the ring. Aguilar was strong like a tiger. He attacked Konakbayev in the first round and dropped him knocked down. Serik who never had such challenge gathered himself fast.
Jose knocked Serik down again. He lost control. Serik saw legs of Aguilar. Later he found the referee and saw the crowd. Serik could gather himself again before the count.
Serik does not remember how he was fighting the further part. He only knows that was fighting putting all his efforts. After the gong Aleksey Kiselev said: “Good job, Serik! Go and shake his hands”.
Serik went to the opposite corner. Then he slowly got the corner. Cuban coach Sagarra wiped his sweat and clapped his shoulder. Then he slowly moved back to his corner and sat down. He said to his coach: “If my hand is not risen I will get shame”.
And now let Serik Konakbayev continue.
“When the referee lifted my hand I kept staying. Because I had not power. Probably I understood that the good part of the Olympics was over for me, anyway I was exhausted.
Guys took me from the ring, and I got the changing room. That was a cold feeling. And once they said: “Serik, stand up, your mom is coming” and rose my head. The Olympic Complex was under the control the State Security Committee. I still wonder how she could get me.
The eyes of my mother were swimming. She hugged me as I was a little kid and sat next to me.
Aleksandr Koshkin entered the in thirty minutes. He was totally in blood. My mom was almost out. Sasha was excited and begged pardon.
“Son, is this happening to you often?” – my mother asked me when we were left alone. I tried to calm her.
I got up hardly next day. The whole body hurt. Both hands were weakened. There were doctors and massager. Either they had no time to see us or they ordered to do so but we have made a lot of efforts to recover.
We went to the restaurant with mom in the afternoon. I ate meat and drank a cup of tea.
The final was the next day.
“The capitalists boycotted that Olympics. And the only voluntary boxers from that system got the finals. I had watched the video of the fight of Serik and Patrizio Oliva at least ten times. Serik had not lost the finals of the Moscow Olympics. Several punches of Konakbayev was not counted. But the politics supported Oliva. Unfortunately…” – said Yuri Tskhai, Serik’s coach.
Serik Konakbayev was recognized the best boxer of the world in 1981. If Serik was from such great nations as the USA, USSR, Japan, Turkey or Germany we would say he achieved that by the efforts of his nation. Kazakhs were the tributary of the USSR those times and were totally dependent of the Moscow policy. Despite of that Serik could handle it and glory his nation before the whole world.
That year the greatest representatives of the US professional boxing wanted to arrange the fight between Ray Leonard and Serik Konakbayev in Tokyo. Look, that is not about fight between the capitalist’s and communists but they had chosen Serik.
Serik agreed. But Moscow declined. Moscow could do that but millions of Konakbayev’s fans always remember his career with warmth.
“Serik Konakbayev is a great boxer,” – said legendary movie actor Armen Dzhigarkhanyan.
“Serik’s hair fixed before the fight always kept the same after he left the ring,” – said well-known politician Serik Abdrakhmanov.
“Konakbayev is Mozart of the boxing,” – said the medalist of the Olymic Games, three-time Champion of Europe, seven-time Champion of the USSR Viktor Rybakov.
We do not want to overpraise Serik. Currently Konakbayev is the President of the Asian Boxing Confederation. It is the greatest honor and pride for our nation that yesterday’s star became the leader of boxing for the largest continent.
Author of article: Kydyrbek Rysbek
Kazakh language newspaper: «Zhas Alash»
September 28, 2017