Ivan Sapun: Shouting “Glory to Ukraine” at the European Championships, I wanted to demonstrate that I am from a country fighting for its independence and future

Ivan Sapun: Shouting “Glory to Ukraine” at the European Championships, I wanted to demonstrate that I am from a country fighting for its independence and future

One of the hopes of Ukrainian amateur boxing is about career, achievements and war

The story of Ivan Sapun, who recently became the bronze medalist of the European Championship, is like a fairy tale or a real motivating sports film. The athlete, whose entire international experience fit in a few months, managed to become the winner of two European championships – among athletes under 22 and adults, get viral on the Internet and receive the unofficial title of the best boxer in Kyiv.

Unlike many of his colleagues, Ivan, at the age of 14, was thinking about what to devote his life to – sports or music, and having moved to Kyiv, he worked as a laborer at construction sites and as a security guard to realize his goal. So far, he is doing well.

– Over the past six months, several Ukrainian boxing videos have gone viral. The first is with your exclamation “Glory to Ukraine” and a powerful response from the hall “Glory to the Heroes” at the European Championships. Is this an impromptu or planned action?

“It’s not the first time I’ve done this. This is an old story. This is not a blank, I just wanted to demonstrate that I am from Ukraine, our country is fighting for its independence and future. I didn’t count on whether anyone would answer or not. It’s just a state of mind and a call of the heart.

We just have a very friendly team, everyone is very supportive of each other. There were a lot of our guys at my fight, they have replyed.

– Were there any consequences, given how the president of the International Boxing Association (IBA), Russian Umar Kremlev, treats Ukraine?

– Not. Perhaps they said something to the leaders of the delegation or the federation, but I didn’t get it.

– The second viral video is a training session of the youth team at the base in Koncha-Zaspa by the light of mobile phone flashlights.

– Yes, I saw him. Respect for the guys. Now everyone with blackouts has to adjust their workouts. Since the place where I train is the sports club “Vityaz” – an educational institution, the power is turned off in the afternoon. Therefore, in the morning we work in pairs, sparring, and in the evening – projectile work, general physical training. Two workouts take 4-5 hours.

But turning off the light has its advantages – people began to communicate more. We also have a very friendly team. After training, we often go to my house – we play board games, sometimes cards, we communicate.

– Do you rent an apartment?

– No, the Kyiv Boxing Federation.

– You yourself are from Zaporozhye. How long have you been in Kyiv?

– From the age of 14, in 2015 he moved. He graduated from the ninth grade and moved to Kyiv to enter a sports boarding school.

Actually, this is an interesting story. Speaking from today’s experience, I can joke: before moving, I didn’t really, or rather professionally, box. But my coach from Zaporozhye believed in me and offered this option for training and development. I thought: why not? If it doesn’t work out, then at least I’ll see Kyiv, take a walk.

I remember that I arrived at seven in the morning, and my sparring sessions were scheduled for 12 noon. At seven in the morning, by the way, my current coach, Alexander Stanislavovich Poznyak, also arrived. And all the time, all these five hours he was with me: he showed me everything, told me everything. He also joked: “They say, if you don’t know how to box, or you box badly, I’ll beat you. How much time did I spend on you? You have to do a good job.” But already after the first round of the first fight, the then head of the boxing direction at the boarding school, Viktor Pavlovich Khlystov, said: “We take you.” His words were conveyed to me by the coach, he said: “We take it, just box it up.” And I will say this: it was after the move that I began to seriously engage in boxing.

But wait, your first coach probably saw something in you that this development of your life advised you.

– In Zaporizhia, Igor Nikolaevich Bayrak and my own uncle, godfather Roman Nikolaevich Sapun trained me. He himself was engaged in boxing, a master of sports. I boxed three times a week and also went to music school. Played the cello.

– Unusual combination.

— Yes, I agree. But it not only did not interfere and gave pleasure, but also helped. The fact is that you hold the bow with your right hand. Since I am left-handed and do not box in an orthodox stance, I also developed my right, front hand in boxing in this way.

So I had a choice – I could also complete my studies at a music school and take the direction of double bass education. But I chose boxing because it happened as it happened. But the love for classical music remained. I train under rock, under classical – I rest.

– Did you study well at school?

– Fine. He was not an excellent student, but he studied well. After moving to Kyiv, the grades deteriorated. But already then, obviously, I realized that I should bet on sports.

– Did your parents just let you go to Kyiv?

– I think it was hard for them, but they understood that this is my chance for life, which I pah-pah, while using it. Uncle said something to my father, but dad, as the real head of our large family, made the decision on his own. I think he himself understood that there is a chance that needs to be used as much as possible. And then began these, so to speak, extreme training.

– What do you mean?

– First, the mode. You wake up at 8, go to class. At 11 you have a training session, then training again, and at 17 a second training session. And my coach and I came at 10 in the morning – an hour before the main training, then worked with everyone, and then again remained for independent work. In the evening – the same.

“It’s like some motivational boxing movie…

“To be honest, I thought about it myself. Previously, when there was not enough money, he worked part-time at construction sites as a laborer and as a security guard. But even with such a schedule, he did not miss training. I tried to pick up a mode so that I could be in time everywhere. For example, on Saturday I have one training session, on Sunday I don’t, then I tried to work those days. It was hard, but it had a purpose. And if you have a goal and a goal, you will find ways to achieve it.

My coach always told me: “We must work, we must endure.” He understood everything, but he just believed in me. Over the years, there were enough failures and there were quite a lot, therefore I appreciated and appreciate every victory. But he always went with his motto: “You need to get better and go towards the goal.”

– Why did your coach pay so much attention to you? Did he notice anything special? Someone asked him about it?

– Perhaps my coach from Zaporozhye said something. But I asked this question to other guys, they said that Alexander Stanislavovich Poznyak is such a person with such an attitude towards the guys and athletes. My friend had the same story with entering the Kyiv sports boarding school and guardianship from the coach – he is older and entered earlier.

Now the coach is like a second father to me. He believed and helped us always, even when there was no result.

Did anyone else help?

– I am very grateful to Alexander Vladimirovich Negoda, who is now the head of the Kyiv Boxing Federation, where they believed in me, when I, so to speak, began to swing, did not have good results. But already then, probably, they saw something in me: they rented an apartment, they solved various issues. Now I also have a salary from the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and since I won the European Championship, I will receive a presidential scholarship next year.

– Have you lost your musical skills?

I think it’s like riding a bike. Therefore, you just need to remember and contrive, and I think I will play. But now I can resist jokes about the mental abilities of boxers.

– Are your relatives in Zaporozhye now?

Yes, parents, uncle. My apartment in Zaporozhye is partially broken. Constant shelling. For the people who live there, judging by their relatives, this is already a common occurrence. Have adapted. It is difficult, but, as they say, this is our land, and we will not go anywhere.

I myself am from the Zaporozhye region, and our community is often shelled. Even talking with your own phone, you hear explosions.

– It is inopportune to ask about sports in the city …

Why not? My coach from Zaporozhye still conducts classes. The gym of the school where I studied is located in a bomb shelter, so it’s more or less safe to train, so to speak. Parents of children let go: no matter how it is a bomb shelter.

– How long did you study at the Kiev boarding school?

– Until this educational institution left my coach. He went to work at the Kyiv Sports Lyceum, and my friend and I followed him. A year passed there and entered the Kharkov State Academy of Physical Culture, studied for a bachelor’s degree.

– What specialty?

– Trainer. Now I’m going to get my degree in another university. Why the specialty of a coach? I have been in boxing for a long time, I have both theoretical and practical knowledge. Yes, now it was possible to learn, for example, not a rehabilitologist or a management specialist. But here, in my opinion, you already need to choose: either training or sports. To combine in order to achieve results in both directions, in my opinion, is very difficult.

– Do you have a solid experience in boxing?

– My first international competition was the Strandzha tournament in Bulgaria. And the first international fight was just against this Englishman – George Crotty, the video after the fight with which you mentioned. Then he lost to him, and quite naturally – the lack of experience affected.

After this tournament, the coach offered to go to the European Championship under 22, held in Croatia. But not in his weight category – above 86 kilograms. I thought: “No matter how this is a chance, I have to go.” Went, became the second. The final duel, as everyone said, was equal. But it happened, as it happened. And before the final was weighed – the weight was 81 kilograms. And this despite the fact that I went to the weigh-in after breakfast – I was worried that they might not be allowed at all. Fortunately, everything went as it should.

Kirill Shevchenko came to this tournament to support me – he became the president of the Boxing Federation of Ukraine. In a week – I have a new international tournament, in Romania, qualifying for the European Championship among adults. I won a fight against an opponent from Georgia, and in the last round he hit me so well with his head twice in the last round, so that my eyes closed. But I passed the selection. He left for the European Championship in Armenia, where he lost to the Italian in the semifinals.

– On business?

– Absolutely. In general, there were many complaints about refereeing at this tournament, and several of our boxers were simply killed. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s all about the case.

– But the rematch with Crotty was also a success?

– Yes. The coach even told me before the fight: “You are now not the same Ivan who was two months ago.” But I myself feel it, despite the fact that the international experience that I received and have fit in two months.

– You have an Olympic weight category, which one of the best boxers in the world, Alexander Khizhnyak, has moved into. Do you understand that it will be difficult to win a license for the Games in Paris?

– Yes. Now there will be the championship of Ukraine, then the European Games, where licenses for the Olympics will be played. Therefore, the number one task is to win the championship of Ukraine in order to get to the European Games. Next – to fight for a license. There will be other tournaments, of course, and the winners of Ukraine, too, I think, will get a chance to compete for Olympic licenses. The question is who will get this chance faster.

Alexander is a very good boxer. But besides him, in our weight category there are enough good fighters who need to be defeated, if, of course, you dream of the Olympics. The same Bogdan Tolmachev, whom I lost in the final of the last championship.

With Khizhnyak, we only crossed paths before in training – work in pairs. I boxed with Tolmachev: he defeated him in juniors, he defeated me – at the youth level, now – at the adult level. So the minimum task is to even the score with him.

– Are you already preparing for specific opponents for the national championship?

– Oh sure. Now the well-known Ukrainian boxer Evgeny Barabanov began to help my coach. He is also left-handed, plus a person with tremendous experience.

Do you watch your fights?

– Very rarely. I don’t like it. Perhaps very self-critical, I do not get pleasure from this.

– Do you survive defeats for a long time?

“I think about them constantly for four or five days. By the way, my coach also keeps this in himself. Then I come to the hall, meet with him, and he tells what needs to be corrected and improved.

Are you the tallest boxer in your category?

– One of. Does it help? Hard to say. I don’t always box at a distance, I can “hack” myself. In the same Croatia, where he competed in a higher category, he boxed at a long distance. At the adult European Championships, he went forward and put pressure. If you look at my fights, then, probably, in all of them – I lost the first round, then I went ahead and, as they say, gnawed. I understood and life taught me that the chance I got should be used to the maximum.

Source: Sportarena

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