Bolat Mankenov, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan General Director
All fired up after signing two of the biggest talents in the World Series of Boxing, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan General Director Bolat Mankenov spoke candidly about his team’s chances this season.
With Derevyanchenko and Hrgovic now added to their ranks, the business brain behind the successful Kazak Franchise believes that they have the final pieces of the jigsaw needed to finally claim the much coveted WSB Team Trophy in 2013.
There have been several changes within the team. Tell us about them and why.
We are extremely focused on being successful this season and we have been working very hard behind the scenes to make our aims a reality. We think it is going to extremely competitive which should be fantastic news for the fans and spectators around the world. With the Arlans, we knew we had to bring in reinforcements in certain weight categories following some of our results last season. We decided that it was the best option to recruit to give us more opportunities to be successful. It has been a real challenge for our new head coach, Sergiy Korchynskyy, in fact he is almost creating a new team, with a totally new mindset.
You were not very active during the draft, can you explain why?
The teams get drawn from a pot in order to decide who gets first pick during the draft and WSB newcomers are automatically placed before and as a result we were ninth in line. I think however that our staff did an amazing job in scouting and choosing the right boxers to complement our squad, we now have an almost perfect group to challenge for honours this season.
What about the calendar, are you happy with the schedule?
We can have no complaints, there has been quite a lot of thought put into the fixture list and from our point of view we are extremely happy. Our first match is to be held in Ukraine so it is not too much of a long journey to get to and the conditions are similar to ours over there. Unfortunately we are currently having to negotiate a date swap fro week two with the US Franchise as our home venue, the Sport Palace in Almaty, is not available that weekend.
Why not to host some of your home matches in different cities in Kazakhstan?
One of our objectives is to grow our fan base and have all of the country supporting the Arlans. At the moment however TV production is an important part of the WSB project and unfortunately, TV companies cannot yet provide the high quality broadcast that we require from other cities around Kazakhstan. That part of the project is still in the pipeline.
Almost half of the boxers on your roster are non-Kazaks, why is this, especially for a country with such a tradition of producing top quality boxers?
This issue is a complicated one. Indeed, we have plenty of talented boxers who all want to fight at the AIBA World Boxing Championship in Kazakhstan in 2013 in order to get into the Olympic national team. WSB is a different beast all together. The WSB allow each team to have up to 40% of foreign boxers in their squad and we are trying to develop the Astana Arlans into an international brand, just like Manchester United or Barcelona so for us it is important to have these guys in our team. This season the Astana Arlans roster will have ten nationalities, including boxers from Israel and Iran. Our team ideally reflects the idea of WSB as worldwide project.