In a world of hard hits and lightning quick reflexes, Kazakh boxers are one of the best. Their Olympic track record is impressive: Since first participating at the Summer Games as an independent nation in 1996, these fighters have never failed to land a gold at every edition.
From light-heavyweight champion Vassiliy Jirov at Atlanta 1996 to gold medalist Daniyar Yeleussinov at Rio 2016, Kazakhstan boxing has reigned supreme. And with 22 medals, it accounts for nearly a third of the nation’s Summer Olympic medals.
Boxing is a tradition that goes back centuries in Kazakhstan. Back then, it was not for fun, but survival, when its people lived nomadic lifestyles that exposed them to constant dangers.
“Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world. This means that our ancestors put a lot of effort into keeping this huge territory,” head coach of the Kazakh national boxing team Myrzagali Aitzhanov once said. “Therefore, this force, endurance and courage were handed down by blood to the next generations.”
Soviet rule then harnessed this natural talent for sport when Russian immigrants settled in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, bringing with them modern training techniques that molded these raw but gifted boxers into efficient fighting machines.
Today, it is estimated that there are more than 30,000 amateur boxers in the country – a conveyor belt of premium talent that is a key reason for their sporting success.
Many of these amateur boxers have since made the sport their livelihood, with over 60 professional fighters currently active. One of their most famous exports is Gennady Golovkin, a two-time middleweight champion who is considered to be one of the world’s best pound-for-pound fighters.
It seems that this heavyweight nation is only set to punch its way up from here!
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