Not much room in the ring

Belarusian capital hosts Belarusian Boxing Championship, bringing together country’s best fighters for important selection stage of European Championship, alongside coaches and referees
By Vladimir Dmitriev

The news of hosting next year’s top European boxing tournament is certainly reason for joy, notes Dmitry Tikhomolov, the Chairman of the Belarusian Boxing Federation. Naturally, our boxers are eager to fight successfully in front of fans. However, their performance at the Olympic Games in London and at the proceeding World Championship suggest that some refinement is needed. Fortunately, their results at the recent Minsk event signal potential for improvement.

Belarus’ 2010 champion, Sergey Loban (52kg) lost to young Dmitry Strigelsky, while European champion Sergey Kunitsyn was obliged to withdraw due to illness, leaving the path clear for Ivan Baranchik (under 60kg). Meanwhile, Leonid Chernobayev (under 91kg), who caused a furore last year, was left without any title. Yevgeny Romashkevich (under 69kg), a prize winner of the European Championship, had to be content with bronze. The acting head coach of the Belarusian team, Yuri Chuiko, emphasises that those disappointed with their performance have the opportunity to make up for this at forthcoming events.

The appointment of a new head coach remains under debate, since Valery Kornilov’s disappointment at the Olympics resulted in his forced retirement. The Federation is in no hurry to appoint a replacement, although Mr. Tikhomolov explains that three specialists have been called in, alongside Honoured Coach of Russia Alexander Martynov, to support Mr. Chuiko.

The issue of refereeing is also at the heart of success. Two referees were suspended during the championship. Top level referees are essential to ensure the improvement of boxers’ performance, as Mr. Tikhomolov asserts. He tells us, “It’s a great mistake that close attention hasn’t been paid previously to refereeing. The decisions made by judges at international tournaments are often completed unexpected to boxers used to domestic judging. We must start preparing them for strict standards, fitting them for international level competitions. It’s the only way to count on success.”
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