On the eve of the Oct. 14-26 World Boxing Championship in Almaty, International Boxing Association Vice President and President of the Kazakhstan Boxing Federation Timur Kulibayev answered questions from The Astana Times about prospects for the Kazakhstan National Boxing School, as well as world trends in the sport.
How do you view the status of boxing as a popular sport in Kazakhstan?
This year we mark 80 years of systematic development of boxing in our country. On the initiative of Shohra Boltekuly, the first schools in this sport were opened in 1933 in Kazakhstan. In addition, in 1978, meaning 35 years ago, Valery Rachkov became the first Kazakh boxing world champion, having won the gold medal in Belgrade.
The Kazakhstan School of Boxing has been formed over decades by the efforts of several generations of talented enthusiasts who devoted their lives to boxing. The upcoming event is also recognition of their achievements.
Our boxers consistently show good results. During the years of independence, they have won Olympic gold medals, and the Olympics in London were no exception. Vasily Jirov, Bakhtiyar Artayev and Serik Sapiyev have also all won the Val Barker Trophy in amateur boxing. So, Kazakhstan has the right to host the world championship.
It is noteworthy that in 2012, the number of athletes involved in boxing in the country increased by 11,000 compared with 2011. Of course, in this case one cannot speak about a direct relationship of events, but I think that the success of our boxers at the London Olympics played its role. Victories of our boxers at the upcoming championship may also become an incentive for someone to go to a boxing club.
This championship will be a landmark in the world of boxing, as it will be held on the new rules of the AIBA – without headgears (helmets), and the fact that a new page in the history of boxing will be written in our country, is important not only for Kazakh boxing, but for all domestic sport.
What does success in the boxing ring mean for the country as a whole?
It is impossible to imagine a modern prosperous state without developed sports infrastructure. Sports and physical education are among the most important aspects of the formation of a modern, harmonious and competitive person. Equally important is the role of sport in patriotic education and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle.
The triumph of Kazakhstan athletes at the Olympic Games in London demonstrates success in the implementation of state policy in the social sphere, the most important components of which are sport and physical training. We are proud of the victories of our athletes at the Olympics. President Nursultan Nazarbayev, speaking at the ceremony honouring the winners of the XXX Summer Olympic Games, underlined the importance of achievements of Kazakh athletes.
The upcoming championship is one of the most important achievements of independent Kazakhstan in the world sport arena. An event at such a level is a major national image project, which will once again demonstrate the potential of our country and will further strengthen the prestige and authority of Kazakhstan, seeking to become one of the centres of world sport in the Asian continent.
The championship will certainly become one of the positive factors in Almaty and Kazakhstan’s bid to host the winter Olympics in 2022.]
What activities have been carried out in preparation for the championship?
The preparation has been carried out in accordance with the schedule approved by our Federation, Kazakhstan’s Agency for Sport and Physical Education and municipal administration of Almaty city. Despite the scale of the upcoming event (about fifteen hundred members and guests – athletes, team officials, referees, technical delegates, heads of AIBA, the International Olympic Committee, the national federations are expected to arrive in the republic), we are confident that we will hold the championship at the highest level. Our country has hosted a number of major competitions under the AIBA auspices and we have sufficient experience in the organization of international tournaments.
What are the main tasks of the federation in the near future?
Modern boxing is changing rapidly and the professional component is becoming an integral part of this sport. The Kazakhstan Federation cooperates actively with the AIBA in the implementation of innovative projects, including the World Series of Boxing (WSB) and AIBA Professional Boxing (APB), particularly since 100 licenses [needed to compete in the Olympic Games] will come from the AIBA professional leagues (30 from the World Series of Boxing and 70 APB (the AIPB’s professional division). This will open up an opportunity for both athletes and national federations to win licenses for the Olympic Games outside of the framework of just national teams.
In addition, these projects are very interesting because they allow boxers to pursue their career in professional boxing without losing the right to participate in the World Championships and Olympic Games, and the national federations can direct the earned funds for training and social allowances.
This means that the Kazakhstan Boxing Federation must prepare boxers capable of performing successfully both in professional and in amateur formats. Kazakhstan’s boxers have all the prerequisites to be successful in both formats.
This is evidenced by the successful performance of boxers from Kazakhstan at the Olympic Games in London, and the victory of the professional boxing club Astana Arlans in the third season of the WSB, which was the result of hard work by the team over three years.
I have repeatedly said that our athletes can win. Thus, at the recent Asian Championship in Amman having won seven gold and one silver medals and thereby showing an unprecedented result, they proved once again that they are the strongest on the continent.
Our task is to create all the necessary conditions for the preparation of world-class boxing masters, ensuring the continuity of generations.
In this regard, special attention is paid to the development of sport infrastructure and strengthening the material-technical base in outlying areas. For example, recently new centres of development of boxing were opened in the cities of Karaganda, Pavlodar, and Astana. These sport complexes with modern materials and technical know-how will become the foundation on which the future of national boxing will be built.
Also, we have developed a single unified project for small gyms with all the necessary equipment, i.e. a basic model that can be easily transformed, depending on conditions of each region. This year the construction of such gyms began in the cities of Turkestan and Semey. They will be put into operation in the first half of 2014. This approach helps save a lot of money and at the same time, effectively meet the needs of the federation.
I am confident that the creation of conditions for mass involvement in sports and targeted education and instilling in children the idea that physical training and sport are not an additional burden, but a vital necessity, could significantly improve the overall health of the nation. It is better to go in for sports than to visit doctors, and it is cheaper too.