The Russian Professional Boxing Federation celebrated their twentieth anniversary this week. Nikolay Valuev was the host of a star-studded event in Moscow with legendary American boxer Evander Holyfield making a guest appearance.
It was a big occasion for Russia's boxers as stars, past and present, gathered at the Krylya Sovetov Sports Complex to honor fighters, trainers and promoters, who have all helped boxing in Russia to become the success it is today.
While the biggest treat of the night was the special appearance of four-time world heavyweight champion, Evander Holyfield, who made his first trip to Moscow to join the celebration.
“I'm honored to be here,” the American said. “A lot of great fighters came out of Russia, you know. At one moment in time they weren't fighting professionally, now they are fighting professionally, and you can see that they make the world of boxing bigger.”
The two-time WBA heavyweight champion, Nikolay Valuev, beat Holyfield, but lost to Britain's David Haye before his retirement from boxing three years ago to take up politics. The Russian Giant, who was among the guests, holds the sport that has developed at a rapid pace over the past two decades dear to his heart.
“This is more than just an anniversary for me. Professional boxing in Russia, as well as many other institutions, emerged with the collapse of the Soviet Union. But still it was a new sport and probably not everybody realized what it really was. The names of promoters and boxers weren't known to the general public – but were to those who were into boxing. Now, they are widely known,” he said.
Over the past two decades, the Federation has produced 18 world champions – thirteen men and five women, with the first coming just three months after the launch of the organization. Kostya Tszyu, the first undisputed world champion the country produced, was named the most successfulchampion as he grabbed the Best Boxer award.
Similar honors were given to the Best Trainer, Promoter and Referee acknowledging the Federation's gratitude for all their hard work and marking a milestone in the short but highly productive history of Russian professional boxing.
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