Unhappy tales of stars with Olympic medals who couldn’t shine after the Video games. By Steve Bunce
HE had the ceremonial gown with the swan-feather lining prepared and the model to crossover and turn into an enormous boxing star. Nicely, that’s one model and it’s the one I like. He was simply 20 years of age; he had the gold medal in a field and his future was as vibrant as that beautiful medal. After which, on New Yr’s eve, only a few months after successful the gold in Sydney, he was killed in a automobile crash. The unhappy story of Kazak Bekzat Sattarkhanov just isn’t, in accordance with my Kazak buddies, an odd story. He was the nation’s golden boy, liked exterior the ring and distinctive contained in the ropes.
In Sydney, he beat the American idol Ricardo Rocky Juarez within the featherweight closing after Juarez had stopped the 1996 champion, Somluck Kamsing, on his method to the ultimate. Juarez was additionally the reigning world beginner champion and on the finish he barely acknowledged the child from Kazakhstan; Juarez and the USA group imagine that Sattarkhanov ought to have been warned for holding, and so they have some extent. The Chilly Battle was not lifeless in Sydney, presumably it can by no means die within the boxing ring at any Olympics ever. It was there in Tokyo final Sunday.
After the loss, Juarez turned skilled simply three months later and fell quick, agonisingly quick, a number of occasions in fights for main belts. He had a draw with Chris John and dropped a break up to Marco Antonio Barrera.
In demise, the Kazaks celebrated their misplaced boy; there was a e book, a documentary and a six-part dramatisation of his life. I’ve watched a little bit of the drama and it’s a magnificence, full of mountains, longing appears to be like and laborious classes within the health club and ring. The movie’s director recreated a scene, a well-known scene, the place medical doctors look at Bekzat after a two-hour session; a tough, gruelling session – might there be another variety in Kazak boxing? The shocked medical doctors uncover that his coronary heart charge is regular. “It’s like he has simply gone for a stroll within the park,” one says. I appear to recollect the identical factor being written about Gennady Golovkin. There was additionally a stamp, a sports activities centre and there may be an annual boxing occasion named after Bekzat.
After Sydney, he was welcomed again to Astana by a faithful flock, ready on the runway on the airport. He got here down the steps, was up on shoulders, smiling and waving his gold medal. He was then honoured and introduced with a medal by the Kazak head of state. He was their boy, make no mistake.
One of many highlights of the documentary is an interview with Sattarkhanov, filmed up a mountain subsequent to a river, and within the background the remainder of the Kazak boxing squad are choosing up river-bed rocks and throwing them as they throw punches. The Kazaks are mighty at this boxing caper. It’s well-known that deep contained in the highly effective Soviet boxing machine, the fighters from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan missed out on a whole lot of alternatives at main worldwide occasions. The blonde, blue-eyed boys from Russia and Ukraine have been favoured. Sattarkhanov was a part of the impartial motion, choosing up in Sydney from Vasily Jirov’s gold in Atlanta 4 years earlier. The Jirov gold medal was the beginning of the dynasty we nonetheless have.
After which he was in a automobile with two mates, it was New Yr’s eve in 2000. The automobile crashed, he died, his mates survived and the nation mourned. He has a shrine in demise, an attractive granite construction along with his medal carved throughout the flat floor. He’s nonetheless worshipped. Juarez would have liked a rematch of his 2000 Olympic featherweight closing.
Oddly, from the identical Olympics, there can be a rematch within the skilled sport of an necessary and notorious light-welterweight combat. In Sydney, one other American, Ricardo Williams Jnr, misplaced to Uzbekistan’s Mahammatkodir Abdullaev 27-20 within the closing. Williams had a brutal street to the ultimate, beating Ajose Olusegun from the St Pancras membership, the Russian and the Cuban earlier than the ultimate day combat. Nonetheless, Abdullaev needed to beat a younger Puerto Rican referred to as Miguel Cotto in his first sequence combat. The rating was 17-7 towards Cotto and his Olympics completed very early. It remained on his thoughts.
Within the professional sport, Abdullaev was 15 and one and Cotto was unbeaten in 23, and the WBO light-welterweight belt-holder, after they met in 2005; Cotto received within the ninth at Madison Sq. Backyard, an enviornment he made his personal. Abdullaev had a couple of extra fights and walked away from boxing in 2011. Not fairly misplaced, however usually forgotten.
Williams, in the meantime, is firmly one of many Olympians who misplaced his approach. After the Olympics, Williams Jnr signed a cope with Lou DiBella and obtained a bonus of $1.4 million. It was not, it must be stated, a ridiculous charge. Williams was simply 19 on the time and appeared made for the professionals. He was not, sadly. He clearly misplaced his approach very quick.
There’s a nice line from Ricardo Snr, his father and coach, on the issues of constructing a champion from a baby star: “You ever attempt to inform a 19-year-old millionaire what to do?” It’s a brutal line, I adore it. DiBella, as trustworthy as ever, admitted: “I by no means did sufficient analysis on him.”
He misplaced his tenth combat and was then arrested on cocaine distribution fees. He obtained 31 months, tried to combat once more three years later, after his launch. However it was gone, the flicker was gone. He lastly completed with boxing in 2014, a expertise misplaced to the professional sport and an Olympic silver medal winner.
It’s by no means straightforward to show these medals comprised of silver and gold into riches, happiness and fame. Males have died and vanished making an attempt.