In the run up to the friendly match between the champions of the third and fourth seasons of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) – Astana Arlans Kazakhstan and Cuba Domadores, which will take place in Astana on September 9-10 under the title “Clash of Champions”, we published last week an interview with the leader of the Cuban team, President of the Cuban Boxing Federation Mr Alberto Puig. Today we present to you an interesting chat with General Manager of the Astana Arlans team Mr Bolat Mankenov.
Mr Mankenov, tell us, how exactly was the idea to hold a match between the champions of WSB conceived?
In these four years, thanks to the WSB, Astana Arlans boxing team has become a major brand, which is known worldwide. In every season of the competition more than 500 boxers from different countries have participated, representing teams from four continents, thus, the geography of WSB fans is extremely broad.
We have been in close contact with every team. With some of them we have already gone through four years together, and that is a full Olympic cycle. It is true that outside the ring we are all friends, but within the confines of competition all the teams guide themselves by sporting principles.
This project gives the opportunity to create a healthy competitive environment, which is vital for athletes. Our common goal with all WSB participants should be to gain the love and respect of fans all over the world, because the geography of the project allows it. We say that, if we achieve the goal to instill passion in 1 billion of 7 billion inhabitants of our planet, it will be a resounding mutual success, and it is precisely this goal we should put in front of ourselves in the WSB.
According to our figures, during participation in the WSB the army of Astana Arlans fans reached 65,000 people in Kazakhstan alone, and we are very grateful for such significant support, because to find the love of the fans is the most important achievement of any athlete and any team. Therefore, we listen to their opinions and try hard to meet their wishes.
Strictly speaking, the result of the semifinal in the preceding season, when Astana Arlans went out of the competition, the criticism and dissatisfaction of our fans became the base for the organization of that match. It was really a pity that they could not see the match between their favorite team and the strongest Cubans in the final. I should say that from the very start of the season everybody predicted that precisely this matchup would be the decisive one. Then when we saw the interview, in which the Cubans themselves said that they were confident of meeting us in the final, we realized that this match was destined to take place. So, during the Season IV final in Baku, we went up with Sergey Korchinskiy (Head Coach of the Astana Arlans) to the Cuban delegation and proposed to hold a match between our two teams this autumn.
We already knew that the next season of WSB begins in January and there would be a long break, during which time we need to maintain the physical condition of the boxers and their competitive spirit. This match will help us solve these problems.
Tickets went on sale last week. Will this match, considering that it is not tied to the WSB season, be of interest to the public in Kazakhstan? What can boxing admirers expect during the “Clash of Champions”?
The main aim of this match, like I have already said, is to meet the wishes of our thousands of fans and show them the true beauty of boxing.
Of course, we could open the door to the event to everyone, make it free entry, but we didn’t do this. Why? The thing is that ticket sales for this game will show us how quality and competitive our product is for the supporters, the success of the ticket sales will be a litmus test, which will help determine, whether we have found the passion of 65 000 fans, which the statistics tell us at the moment.
Apart from that, since we represent a transparent company and publish all the expenses and income of the team, those statistics of the ticket sales for this match and all the significant income from it, including from the sales of souvenir products will also soon be published together with the other items of income and expenses. In other words, the sale of tickets will give a clear picture of everything.
Would it be possible to consider victory in the “Clash of Champions” as the motivating factor for the return of the Champions title to the Arlans?
I’m not going to claim that we will beat Cuba in this match and so on. I just want the admirers of boxing get enjoyment from what will happen in the ring.
At the same time, I really respect our Cuban colleagues, and personally Mr Alberto Puig. The Cuban School has really brought a lot to boxing and the success of the “Cuba Domadores” confirms that they are the strongest boxers in the world today.
But in regards to our guys, I told them, that they need to show all of their skills in the ring. Success depends on which goals and targets you put in front of yourself and of course, you need to reach them. It is possible to achieve anything; you simply need to work hard, sacrifice a lot, refrain from the majority of temptations, to progress towards your goals overcoming all hardships on the way, and just that.
And a little bit about next season. Tell us, which goals do you put in front of the team in the qualifying season for the Olympic Games, considering the position in the group?
As for me, it is still too early to talk about the potential of the team. Everyone will be put in their draft place, which the WSB will hold in November. Then it will be possible to see how much every team has strengthened their squads with foreign members and the right strategy for the season will be picked by the coaches.
Regarding goals, of course, gaining Olympic licenses will be an interesting topic in the upcoming season and of course, our main target remains the WSB Champions title.