A Russian website recently posted a wonderful story about Ukrainian Work & Travel participant Iegor Plevako. Iegor is a 19 year old professional boxer that joined the W&T program in New York in hopes of improving his English as well as his boxing skills.
The article below has been translated from Russian to English. Please enjoy!
The amazing summer holiday of Ukrainian young boxer in the New York
On September 1st 2010, Ukrainian boxer Iegor Plevako came to the boxing gym Gleason’s GYM for his last training and to say “Good bye!” to my students, who became his new friends here in the USA. On the next day Iegor flew home to Ukraine. The summer for the boxer from Kharkiv had gone like one day!
At the beginning of the summer, just like yesterday, a shy 19th years old guy came to the legendary Gleason’s GYM and said that he would like to try his luck and improve his skills here on the territory of his future competitors.
First sparring fight Iegor Plevako had with my student, winner of USA Championship in youth category 2004 and in junior category 2005.
That fight showed me very poor footwork of Ukrainian boxer, and poor power of shots despite his good weight and height. Biggest part of Iegor’s shots was made only by moves of his arms, but without using power of feet and all bodyâ€¦
Sparring also showed that Iegor was not ready to fight with experienced heavyweight fighters. Iegor was asking me to arrange another sparring but I told him we had to improve his technique first and after that he could show at the ring what he is capable of. That process would take one month at least. I told him:” I don’t want to see like somebody will start strike and beat your head from the first fightâ€¦ you are the representative of the great boxing country, winner of the 2008 National under-19 Ukraine Championship and 2008 bronze medalist under-19 World Championship in Mexico and I don’t want to stay at the corner of the ring and blushing for you, and for our USSR school of boxingâ€¦”
When we started training with Iegor, he was skeptical about my comments.
At our early stage of work together Alexander Povetkin helped me very much! Rather, the interview with the Russian challenger for the World crown in the heavyweight division, which we watched on television, along with Iegor Plevako in my house. Leading this program, trainer Teddy Atlas, who is currently coaching Alexander Povetkin, invited the Russian boxer for a live interview. And one of the questions to Alexander Povetkin was about what he learned here in America, with Teddy Atlas? The first thing said Povetkin, was to learn how to pay attention to the defense … And he repeated almost word to word, the same things I was saying every day to Iegor after his first sparring.
Later, I made a test of Iegor’s physical condition which showed that Iegor Plevako was still behind from many parameters of physical strength of boxers at his age. So simultaneously with the above mentioned technique, we began to work on his physical training …
Even though Iegor wanted to fight with any local heavyweight boxer as soon as possible, it was a little too soon to plan the next sparring. Second sparring we had with dark-skinned,
heavyweight athlet named Leslie, who had first-class boxer level of training consistency. Iegor made chaotic attacks, hold an opponent or fell down on him… But it was impossible not to notice that despite his nervousness, Iegor heard me in the ring and sometimes tried to do what I suggested to him! ..
Realizing that the sparring was not successful, Iegor asked me, to have one more fight as soon as possible. He wanted to prove to me that he could do better. Because of that we had very hard conversation where I said to Ukrainian boxer, that sparring would not make him better, and that if he is not going to work seriously to improve his technique, he should better quit boxing … I told him again that he was lucky to meet here in America a coach who thinks about boxer more than anyone else in this country, but I neede
d a student, and not an adviser … If he knew himself what he needed to do, then he could go to another coach and tell him how he should be trained… I said that sparring showed me that Iegor was very promising and perspective boxer, but still he had to work very, very hard and it could take months, even years to learn… Which is why next sparring would be arranged only when he would be ready for it, not when he asks for it. That day was the last time he had such easy opponent, but not any more. Next sparring would be with more powerful and experienced boxer! …
After that conversation, Iegor Plevako became a model student … he improved his attitude and became more responsible during the trainings.
Early in the first round Iegor coped with the excitement and at the end of the battle controlled the situation in the ring … Ukrainian young boxer was a little faster in attack and much faster in movements… American boxer asked us to give him another sparing, revenge … We told him that we were ready for revenge at any time convenient for him. But until the Iegor’s departure to home, the American champion has not show up in our boxing hall.
A few days after sparring with Tor Hamer I asked Iegor: “Well, how about the fight with the former opponent of Alexander Povetkin, a former American Prospect heavyweight Taurus Sykes.”
– I will fight with anybody you say – I heard a confident, pleasant answer …
Sparring with Taurus Sykes was the easiest fight for Iegor in the U.S.
Almost all fight Sykes was “punching the shadow”, trying to knock out the young prospect. Iegor was constantly moving, spending exact solitary strikes from distance, and than began to strike two or three shot combinations with larger and heavier enemy … Sparring turned out, as we say scoring in one gates, in favor of Kharkiv Boxing school representative!
I am sure that if Iegor’s coach from Kharkiv, Vasily Afanasyevich Burmaka, with whom our paths crossed many times in many championships and tournaments, watched his student’s sparring with experienced American heavyweights he would be proud of him!
Edited by Michael Kozlowski
All materials were provided by Michael Kozlowsky from www.boxingcoachmike.com