Munich Ring with Mr. Serik Konakbayev


The AIBA World Boxing Championship is to start in Hamburg in a bit more than one month. Our legendary boxer Serik Konakbayev became the silver medallist of the first “German” championship in Munich 1982. Now he is the AIBA Vice-President and the President of the Asian Boxing Confederation.

Serik Kerimbekovich, it has been 35 years after the Munich 1982 AIBA World Boxing Championship where you had won the “silver”. Could you please share your memories?
— Even after such a long time I remember that championship with great warmth. First of all it is about the bright memories about the city itself which had held the Olympic Games of 1972. We were delighted to visit all Olympic venues. In fact I have very kind memories about Munich and Cologne. Generally Germany was friendly to me.
If we talk on the championship itself… I came to that championship as a quite awarded sportsman, after the Moscow Olympics in 1981 I was recognized as the best boxer of the world and had many other awards. I had been a captain of the USSR team for 4 years and as a leader I had an aim not just to win the championship but also to lead other guys.
I was confident that I will pass that championship as easy as pie. Actually it was so until the finals. I fulfilled all tasks for the fights and all my pre-final fights were normal.
Mark Breland of the USA was my opponent at final, I had never fought him before and he was “dark horse” for me. The only thing I saw that Mark finished all preliminary fights by knockout. Although he was thin he was found to be quite beating boxer.
Then our final started. I won the first round, and then I have passed the left-hand blow and knocked down. Of course I had to give a best shot in the third round in order to referees had no doubt of my victory. I started to actively attack my opponent, however Mark was quirky and he slipped all my tries to knock him down. And the passed knockdown had its effect on me, and my left eye couldn’t see and I spent the last round by intuition. I watched that fight many times, analyzed it. In my opinion I won the first round, the second was for Mark and the third one was mine again. But the referee’s’ decision was different. Anyway that is the story now, good and useful story. Who knows, that might be the result of my wishful thinking peculiar to young people.

Do you still meet with Mark Breland?
— We do, but unfortunately not at the ring. I had been expecting our meeting at the Olympics 1984 in the USA. The whole team of the Soviet Union had been preparing for that games but politics interfered and the USSR boycotted the American Olympics… In 1984 I retired and Mark Breland became the Olympic Champion in Los Angeles.
However we met in the USA but much later and in “peaceful” environment, not at the ring. It was found that my partner Mikhail Kozlovskiy from Zhambyl who moved to the US and became a successful coach had worked at the same gym with Mark Breland. By that time Mark had some professional experience, became the two-time WBA champion and had worked as a coach.
In 2008 I came to New-York where I was pleasantly surprised to meet Mark
In this regard I’d like to note the greatness of boxing, wonderful uniting power of the sport; we can be the vociferous opponents at the ring but we are all friends out of the ring.

You are going to attend the upcoming AIBA World Boxing Championships that is also in Germany as the Vice-President of the International Boxing Association (AIBA). What can you tell about the upcoming event?
— You subtly noticed this. Yes, if we look 35 years back, could I even dream to be present in the management of the International Association of Amateur Boxing? No way! That was something fantastic for me. However the lifetime showed that boxing is in my life for a long time, I’d say forever. But that is all irrelevant, let’s talk on facts.
This world tournament is the third world boxing championship among men held in Germany. 280 boxers from more than 80 countries will participate this year. It is of the prime importance that 260 participants have gained their licenses through the hard qualification pathway. Remaining 20 will be present by quotas – 10 for the host-country and 10 are issued by the AIBA for emerging states.
I would like to note that the championship is going to be hard because there the strongest athletes of the planet. That’s why all boxers should mobilize and do their best, coaches should work out the right tactics and strategy and referees should be aimed to fair and candid refereeing. All sport officials should always remember that their job results the fate of the certain person and sportsman. I would like to wish all participants the best of sport luck and successful Championship.

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Russian version of the interview: Russian version