By Ruslan Chikov
It sometimes said that the sport is better served without politics. However, there are certain circumstances when the political upside/downside of the event just can’t be ignored. The recent show in Sevastopol with Dmitry Chudinov defending his WBA “interim” middleweight title against Mehdi Bouadla of France was just that type of the sportive showcase.
The show has been held this past Saturday in Sevastopol, the spiritual and naval center of Crimean Peninsula, a point of Russian Navy’s specific glory and pride, which is in turn situated not only on the shores of the Black Sea but also in hot political waters. Crimea, while previously a part of Ukraine, was unified with continental Russia following this March referendum, which hasn’t been recognized by a majority of independent states and countries. This major change provoked also major tensions between Russia and Ukraine, two fraternal Slavic nations, and also a military unrest in Eastern Ukraine, which is going on right now with hundreds murdered, thousands wounded and hundreds of thousands being forced out of their Homeland.
The show was promoted by well-known Russian promoter Vladimir Hryunov with the significant support of patriotic Night Wolves MC and Russian Navy. It has been sanctioned by the Professional Boxing Federation of Russia (PBFR). The show itself wasn’t without some political controversy as the debuting local heavyweight Pavel Doroshilov (who cruised to the UD 4 over shot Danny Williams) entered the ring under the anthem of Donbass and with the flag of non-recognized Donetsk People Republic, which is considered to be a stronghold of so-called “terrorists” (known as “local militia” in Russia) by Ukrainian media.
National Professional Boxing League of Ukraine, led by their president Mikhail Zavyalov, issued a letter to the European Boxing Union in a futile attempt to block the event. NPBLU’s letter, proposing sanctions to PBFR and personally to Vladimir Hryunov, after Zavyalov’s signature is presented below. According to vringe.com, the similar letter was also sent to the WBA headquarters but had no response (WBA I/C title was contested in a semi-main fight of the evening).
According to Vladimir Hryunov, who expressed his point of view to Crimean media, “the very fact that the show has taken place in spite of possible sanctions says just how correct the position of its organizers was”. He continued stating that the attendance was unprecedented in Crimean history as shows of such a magnitude had never taken their places in Crimea before. Hryunov also confirmed that his card was only the first step in terraforming local boxing landscape into a hotbed of prizefighting.
“I’m not a politician, I don’t want to be involved into this”, said Hryunov to “Argumenty Nedeli – Krym”. “I’m a toiler and a master. I’ve arranged a show that attracted so many people to the arena. I know firmly that we are one team and that we’ve performed well”.