There are certain figures who influence both daily issues and the distant future. Some call them influencers or visionaries. Others call them trailblazers if they pave the way for others.
Vladimir Gendlin, who died yesterday in Moscow at 84 due to complications of a COVID-19 induced pneumonia, was exactly all of those things and much more.
For years, the patriarch of Russian professional boxing, was a voice to be heard and to be listened to. He was at the roots of prizefighting in Russia, doing his part in bringing the pro game to the country, which had previously possessed only amateur boxing.
Gendlin was one of those behind the Al Cole vs. Glenn McCrory IBF cruiserweight showdown, the first major title fight on Russian soil, which took place on July 16, 1993 in Moscow. He was also the commentator of the event, employed by another legend – in the sport of soccer – legendary broadcaster Vladimir Maslachenko.
That was a start of a very long road, which lasted for almost half a century. Gendlin was the voice of Russian prizefighting, commentating on almost all notable boxing events – both including and excluding Russian fighters. He did his work on the biggest stages and biggest channels in Russia. He was also an author and a producer for a number of documentaries on Russian prizefighting, including those about Sergey Kobozev, Sergey Artemiev, Kostya Tszyu and Oleg Maskaev.
The Russian popularity of four division world champion Roy Jones Jr. hit a sky high level when he secured Russian citizenship a few years ago – an act that would have never materialized if not for Gendlin, a big fan and a big follower of Jones in his prime. He stayed unbiased even despite his not-so-secret sympathies.
Gendlin, of Jewish ancestry, was himself a good amateur boxer, earning a record of 50 wins with just a single loss. He was also involved into the work of World Boxing Union in mid-90’s.
Vladimir Ilyich (Gilyevich) Gendlin will be sorely missed by entire Russian boxing community.