Legends from the Black sea shores
By D.Mossienko: If nominating father and son from Eastern Ukraine, Anatoly and Vasily Lomachenko as the best coach and the best boxer of the year 2016 was a surprise for some boxing fans and even boxing pundits around the world, - it was not the case for the millions of Ukraine’s boxing fans and especially Ukraine’s boxing specialists.
This year brought new world championship belts to Anatoly Lomachenko’s son Vasily who won the WBO super feather weight belt, and to his another boxer Alexander Usyk, who won on points over 12 rounds against Polish fighter Krzysztof Glowacki in his own back yard of Gdansk,Poland to win the WBO cruiserweight belt. Everybody remembers the years, when Anatoly closely worked with Ukraine’s Olympic team, which was tremendously successful at the Olympic games in 2008 and 2012. However, his son Vasily, Alexander Usyk and many other boxers know that this success roots goes much deeper in history.
The family legend says, Vasily put boxing gloves on Vasily’s tiny hands back on 17 February 1988 when he was born in Belgorod-Dnestrovsky not far from the Black Sea port city of Odessa. For years Anatoly was developing his own boxing school in the ancient Belgorod-Dnestrovsky (Akkerman) which over the past two thousand years was part of the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Russian Empires. This small ancient place bears rich historical and cultural heritage.
Anatoly admits, that he and his wife who is an acrobatic coach initially did not see their son as a super-athlete, and acrobatics, swimming, playing ice hockey on in the winter on the frozen liman (bay ) of Danube mouth, running and other sports was intent to develop a healthy and resilient boy. However, Vasily won his first fight in 1994 in the age of 6, when he managed to beat an older boy. In order to protect the senses of the older fellow, Anatoly announced a draw. This is part of his wise approach and astute knowledge of the human nature. He knows when to support his kids and when to challenge!
Learning and working hard are his keys to success. However talented you are, nothing is achieved without focus and dedication. Their typical camp day begins at 8am, when his boxers line up (one minute late and it costs you 20 push ups). They run to the sea about 3km (less than two miles), - morning jog is a simple and important wake up routine.
9am breakfast is a very important element of boxers’ life, the biggest meal of the day, when athletes eat the most of carbs and proteins, vitamins, when metabolism is the most powerful. Athletes eat three times a day, but having light snacks like fruits and nuts is never prohibited, especially when they are not yet struggling to meet the weight limits.
Their morning training session begins at 11am and lasts 2.5 hours in the Ancient Greece style decorated gym, which Anatoly and Vasily received from the local authorities after his brilliant victory at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. A lot of tricks and punches they like to practice during this session, which they prefer to have in their own close circle without “unnecessary beholders”, which is quite understandable , as those tricks are boxers’ weapons. The training session ends with power lifting and other strengths building exercises. Vasily with his own weight about 60kg lying on his back pushes from the chest 110kg!!
The athletes rest between 2 and 5pm, which Anatoly also spends talking to the boxers, sometimes giving them psychological advise. The evening session is usually aiming to stimulate reflexes and coordination, the athletes play football or handball . There’s always an element of competition.
One of the important elements of Anatoly’s method is a big challenge. You can do it!! Vasily remembers swimming 8km three times in bad stormy weather across the Danube mouth. It was only the third time recently Alex Usyk was swimming with him, preparing for his clash with Glowacki. He also makes fighters run a marathon. There’s little use from the 42km run in terms of fitness, but Anatoly believes the challenge and developing mental strengths is essential .
Anatoly Lomachenko has a lot of boxing tricks up on his sleeve, however, what is always a trade mark of his fighters is brilliant defensive skills! It goes deep into the Soviet and Polish boxing schools. Boxing is the art of self-defense, insists Anatoly. Yes, Vasily Lomachenko and Alex Usyk are KO artists, but in their fights decisive victory typically follows technical and tactical domination over the opponents.
Versatile athletes and skillful fighters prove that the ancient, legendary tradition of gentlemen boxers gets new brilliant extension on the Black Sea shores in Ukraine
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December 30, 2016
Photos supplied by D. Mossienko