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Interview with Ukrainian boxer Elena Tverdokhleb

Русская версия

Welcome, Elena! Since our first interview passed four years. Your interview is one of the most visited pages in our WEB site; it has been reprinted by several other sites (sometimes without the reference to the source though).

Elena Tverdokhleb

Elena Tverdokhleb "Dangerous girl" escorted by London policemen

Where are you competing now? What would you like to say to funs of the female combat sports?

First of all, none of TV channels in Ukraine or Russia is able to pay for broadcasting sports events and there are not enough spectators who would be able to pay for tickets their real cost. Thus, local promoters don't have enough money and stimulus to hold high-level tournaments, so everyone is oriented to European and American tournaments. Besides, I don't see real opponent in Ukraine and Russia who would be ready to meet me in the ring.

How international bouts are organized, who invites you?

Organizing efforts and expenses of Western promoters for our participation in international bouts are quite high and they don't want to pay for my victories. Therefore, they invite me for fighting against the best boxers - of the level of European and world champions weighing 62-64kg whom nobody in Europe wants to fight against...

What is your own weight?

My permanent weight is 61.2 kg (135 LB).

In the light of the above mentioned, who are your real opponents now?

There are three such opponents in Europe: world WBA champion Myriam Lamare (France), European EBU champion Nathalie Toro (Belgium) and Jane Couch (Great Britain) - former two-time world champion. In 2004 a few months before my fight with her, Nathalie Toro defeated Jane Couch for the title of EBU champion by unanimous decision. Actually, there is a "local champion" closer, Agnieszka Rylik (Poland) with unbelievable number of victories in Poland and photographs on her private sites. However, her managers and she get depressed when hear my name and don't even want to hear about out bout, even a third party would pay

Tell us whom you have fought with.

I've had two fights with each of the two - Myriam Lamare and Nathalie Toro. According to common opinion of European boxing specialists, French promoters (for instance, the company of Michel Acaries whose name says everything to boxing specialists) and French TV channel "Canal+", which broadcasted my fights in prime time, that for the moment the bouts with my participation are the best and the most interesting among all female boxing events in Europe. So, our third bouts are not far off. On July 2004, our 8-round bout with Myriam Lamare in Le Cannes was held as the concluding event of the tremendous gala show, even though a 12-round men's title fight had occured before our fight.

Tell more detailed about your bout against Lamare, which we have the photo report about.

My bout with Lamare in July was held in the huge sports palace in Cannes. Spectators occupied all aisles even though we came out to the ring at 23:20pm. The bout was very tough, dense with lots of heavy punches. Nobody wanted to yield and each punch counted. Sometimes we boxed without moving just working with arms and bodies. Blow exchange series lasted up to 30 seconds; perhaps you can rarely see something like this even in the world level men's bouts. The audience, promoters and TV workers gave a 15-minute ovation to us.

My opponent handed the trophy over to me but nobody raised a victor's arm. After we watched the videotaped bout, we would see my advantage in the number of hits but in the sports WEB site we have read that Lamare won by scores. However, you shouldn't be offended; the hosts of such events, who invite fighters and pay for them, would never give the victory to a guest unless his or her advantage is obvious and her or his opponent stays on feet. The hosts spend money also for the promotion their local boxer, that's the reality. Nevertheless, I get the confidence that we will meet again because French spectators and TV need a real show and they are ready to pay for that. It instills optimism.

What was the status of your bouts? Did you fight for a champion title? How female boxers are selected for European, American and world championship fights?

They were 6- and 8-round rating bouts. There were just talks about championship bouts. Promoters hold bouts for champion titles only for athletes who have contracts with them, which they contributed money for their launching. Promoters just don't want to run the risk of their boxers' loses to ones able to do beat them. An opponent for a championship bout is usually searched among the first ten boxers by the rating where 3-4 artificially grown "boxers" always exist, who get to the group of ten by winning over unknown opponents for whom these fights are first or the second bouts in their career and the last ones. I guess the most of such bouts are virtual ones. However, the existing system of drawing ratings (especially in women's boxing) allows launching such boxers to high positions. And all managers are OK with this because such challengers guarantee their wards a victory in the title bout. However, you can't become a great fighter competing with such opponents possibly you will have to meet serious opponents in the future. Therefore, rating bouts are held by Western promoter companies for leading female boxers against high class boxers not backing by any promoter companies (as it happens in my case). I agree to participate though because it is the only real chance to make my presence felt.

What is your opinion about the existing system of determination of the best female boxers and how would you improve it?

While the fact of winning over opponents is the only factor counted for determination of the position in the rating and the level of opponents is not counted, there will be no real rating. I think a score system should be used for rating determination, where scores are counted for bouts with certain opponents. Then it will be obvious who costs what. In fact, if a boxer has decently fought (even lost) against such opponents as Myriam Lamare, Nathalie Toro, Christy Martin, Jane Couch or against any other athlete of this level, will be determined higher that any home-made champion, who win over totally unknown opponent staying in her home country (Germany, Italy, Hungary, Romania, etc.) But I don't believe it will happen in the nearest future, because it would stop the disorder in professional boxing allowing managers having money to push their favorites knowing how to hit a punch-bag in order to flatter their own pride.

Are serious women competitions held in Ukraine and Russia?

Only for amateurs. In Ukraine it's the national championship and the national Cup. Sometimes tournaments with Polish and Hungarian all-star teams are held.

Do you participate in amateur boxing?

No, I don't. Ukrainian Boxing Federation doesn't allow professionals to participate in amateur tournaments. Besides, it doesn't make sense for me in my age to be into amateur boxing - I don't want to hang up in training gatherings in cheap hotels - I don't have enough time for that, I have a family and a well-paid lawyer practice. Moreover, female boxing is not an Olympic sport yet and the earliest Olympics would be the ones in 2012. The reality is that even 18-year or 20-year old girls won't be there.

How long are you going to practice boxing?

I guess a couple of more years.

Why there are so few good female boxers in your weight category? Which categories have more of them, heavier or lighter?

Just my weight category and the close ones more female boxers exist in compare to other categories. As a matter of fact, there are too few female boxers in Europe now.

Do you think you would be able to fight on an equal footing with the most prominent contemporary female boxers in Europe and America?

Of course, I don't have a chance to fight with not prominent boxers.

Thank Elena for this interesting information. Wish her big achievements on the ring and beyond it.

January 2005

Exclusive of the "Female Single Combat Club"

Other material about Elena Tverdokhleb:

Interview to Female Single Combat Club

Photo chronicle of a bout

Interview to "Igrok"

Photographs by Jan Plitko

Click on an image below in order to get a full-sized photograph

Elena Tverdokhleb against Myriam Lamare

Tverdokhleb - Lamare

Tverdokhleb - Lamare

Tverdokhleb - Lamare

Tverdokhleb - Lamare

Tverdokhleb - Lamare

Tverdokhleb - Lamare

Tverdokhleb - Lamare

Elena Tverdokhleb against Nathalie Toro

Tverdokhleb - Toro

Tverdokhleb - Toro

Tverdokhleb - Toro

Tverdokhleb - Toro

Tverdokhleb - Toro

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