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Undoubted success of boxing ring masters

Belarusian athletes claim four European Championship medals
By Dmitry Britikov

Belarus has won four awards at the European Boxing Championship, thanks to Victor Zuev, Vazgen Safaryants, Sergey Novikov and Pavel Kostromin. Three representatives of Belarus claimed bronze medals, and Vazgen Safaryants who had reached the final of the 40th European Boxing Championship took silver of the tournament. This absolute and unquestionable success for Belarusian boxing trumps any other to date. The first major success was in 1998, when the European Championship in Minsk saw three Belarusian boxers take medals. Meanwhile, the last time four medals were claimed was in 2010, at the European Championship in Moscow.

In fact, seven Belarusian boxers reached the quarter-finals of the European Championship but three failed to reach the semi-finals: Vitaly Bondarenko lost to Romanian Bogdan Yuratoni, Sergey Korneev was defeated by Russian Alexey Yegorov and Sergey Loban lost to Irishman Mike Conley. Let’s hope that, at the next such championship, they’ll be able to take revenge for their defeats.

The fact that seven Belarusians reached the quarter-finals shows that our boxers are among the best in Europe. After all, only the most decent can stand against the world’s recognised masters. Beforehand, the Belarusian national team’s coaches had predicted three medals from the European Championship (although coach Konstantin Makhankov hinted that more might be possible); the extra medal has been an unexpected bonus for fans and coaches alike.

Few expected medals from Pavel Kostromin or Sergey Novikov, just hoping that they’d show their fighting spirit with dignity against famous rivals. Both made their debut at the tournament so their placement on the team was risky for head coach Vladimir Shin and the Chairman of the Belarusian Boxing Federation, Dmitry Tikhomolov. One can only guess at how they found and considered them, but their decision paid off well in Minsk.

Our Belarusian boxers have won 19 continental forums, with the team’s current member Victor Zuev having claimed medals three times: silver in 2004 and 2010, and bronze in 2002. Meanwhile, Vazgen Safaryants earned silver in 2008 and bronze in 2010 while Sergey Korneev took silver in 2008.

Minsk Sports Palace gathered huge crowds for the European Championship, with seats free until the semi-final stage. Semi-final and final tickets cost about Br55,000-85,000 ($6-10) making them affordable to all true fans. Drama inside the ring (and beyond) made the fights quite unexpected and intriguing; without doubt, nobody left feeling they had wasted time in attending. Audiences were treated to real and colourful boxing, from recognised masters and eager novices. The fact that Belarusians stand among these professionals makes us proud.
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