Nicolay Valuev is one of the most famous boxers in the world. That’s because of his exceptional size (7 foot tall and 325 pounds) and for many other reasons. He is the first-ever Russian to become world heavyweight champion, he is undefeated in 43 fights (31 KOs) and is promoted by one of the best companies in the boxing business: Sauerland Event. They turned the giant into an acclaimed star and made him the WBA world champion. When Valuev defeated John Ruiz on points, last December 17, the Max Schmeling Halle was sold-out, Muhammad Ali was at ringside and the coreography was highly spectacular. The event was on the same level as Las Vegas shows. When I called Sauerland Event’s Media Director Haiko Mallwitz to get an interview with Valuev the answer was yes, so I flew to Berlin where I got the greatest cooperation from Mr. Mallwitz and also from Sports Director Hagen Doering. First, Mr. Doring showed me Sauerland Event’s offices and gym, then Mr. Mallwitz drove me to Kienbaum where they have a huge training center with every facility you can think of and so clean that you could eat on the floor (the same can be said about the streets of Berlin). In Kienbaum, Valuev was willing to answer to my questions with Mr. Mallwitz serving as translator.
Mr. Valuev, how did you get started in boxing?
When I was 13, in St. Petersburg, I entered a special program for gifted kids. This was a program of the school system in the Soviet Union: they invited the best athletes to live in a special training center (without the parents) and turned them into champions. I entered as a discus thrower and my dream was to excel in that sport. When I was 17, a friend brought me to a boxing gym and I was fascinated by the sweet science so I decided to give it a try.
Why did you decide to turn professional?
Because I really fell in love with boxing and a Russian manager proposed that I turn professional. I debuted on October 15, 1993 with a 2nd round TKO over John Morton in Berlin.
In the first part of your career, you fought in Germany, Russia, England, Australia, United States, Japan, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Korea and Belarus. Why?
Because my manager started calling everybody in the business describing me as the biggest heavyweight in the world. He was selling me as a special attraction and he brought me from country to country. I didn’t like that. I’m a boxer and I don’t want to be portrayed as the “Eight Wonder of the World.”
By the way, is it true that you refused to move to the United States because they wanted to promote you as King Kong?
Yes, that’s true. After my fight my John Ruiz, the biggest press agency in Germany wrote that I was going to America and be sold as King Kong. Sauerland Event’s people got a huge number of phone calls about that and I told Media Director Heiko Mallwitz to say to all the journalists that I’m a serious boxer and I’m not gonna turn myself into a clown. Of course, I would like to fight in the United States for a big amount of money. If Sauerland Event reaches an agreement with an American company, it will be fine for me. Right now, they have an agreement with Don King and they will promote my next four fights together. If one of these matches will be in New York, I will go to the Empire State Building as a tourist. I won’t go on the roof to pose for King Kong-style photos.
They call you the modern version of Primo Carnera, do you know his story?
So many journalists asked me about Primo Carnera that I looked into his lifestory, but my boxing idol has always been Muhammad Ali.
Before joining Sauerland Event, you became Russian and Pan-Asian champion. These titles made you famous?
Not really, I was known mostly in St. Petersburgh. I wasn’t making so much money either; it was enough to make a living. I became famous after joining Sauerland Event: they turned me into a star known all over the world. They also gave me the opportunity to win the WBA international and intercontinental titles and made me improve facing respected opponents like Paolo Vidoz, Gerald Nobles, Attila Levin, Clifford Etienne and Larry Donald. It is also thanks to Sauerland Event that I fought John Ruiz for the WBA world heavyweight championship.
Your plans for the future?
Defending the WBA world title and maybe winning the other major titles too, but you should ask to Sauerland Event about that.
HEIKO MALLWITZ ABOUT NICOLAY VALUEV
Since Nicolay Valuev told me to ask to Sauerland Event about his future, I asked to Media Director Heiko Mallwitz and he was willing to answer while we were going back to Berlin.
Tell us about Sauerland Event’s long term plans for Nicolay?
Sauerland Event would like to stage a fight between Nicolay and the other champions of the major sanctioning bodies. I don’t think that WBO champion Sergei Lyakhovic would be a problem for Nicolay, but we are not interested in this fight because Lyakhovic is not famous in Germany and the TV networks wouldn’t sponsor that event. You know, we were the first company to believe in Nicolay’s skills and we have big projects for him. He already filled 14,000 seats buildings and drew huge TV ratings in Germany. We believe that a fight between Nicolay and IBF champion Wladimir Klitschko would set new attendance records for boxing and draw at least 30,000 paying customers; in fact, we would promote it in a soccer stadium. Klitschko-Valuev would also draw 20,000,000 spectators on television. But right now, it’s too early to talk about this fight.
Also because Nicolay Valuev has to get past Owen Beck first.
He will do it. I think Nicolay will score a KO.
Why did some spectators boo Valuev after he won the WBA belt?
It’s hard to say if they were booing him or John Ruiz’s manager who took the belt from Nicolay’s hands. It all happened so fast. Sometimes, they boo Nicolay because they would like to see his opponent win. You know, everybody likes it when the little man beats the giant. Anyway, they always pack the arenas to see Nicolay Valuev in action and that’s what counts.
Born in St. Petersburgh (Russia), on August 21, 1973
Weight: 325 pounds
Trainer: Manuel Gabrielian
Manager: Sauerland Event
Record: 43 wins (31 KOs) in 43 fights
Debuted in 1993
WBA intercontinental champion
WBA international champion
WBA world champion
On December 17, 2005 in Berlin he defeated on points John Ruiz