One More Fight: Interview with the Konecny's
23.12.03 - By Keith Terceira: There are times when we need to count our blessings here in America. The blessings we have concerning the opportunities in this great sport of boxing. To get started in this sport all you need is heart, practice, and commitment. What if you had all three of these things and you were one of the best in the Amateurs but suddenly had no where else to go? No professional outlet, a government that refused to allow you to even continue your amateur career because of age. That describes what happened to Milan Konecny of the Czech Republic, while his country was under the thumb of the Soviet Bloc of nations.
Article posted on 23.12.2003
Milan who recently turned 44, has been reported to have retired . That is farthest from the truth. Milan wants to fight one more time. In America, on the same card as his son Lukas, the European Union Light Middleweight Champion. It doesnít matter where, any venue will do, he thinks more on the symbol it would be for the Czech people and the sport of boxing in that country. We spoke to both Lukas and Milan through an interpreter and this is what they had to say.
Keith: What was Boxing like as an amateur in the Czech Republic before 1989, When the CSSR was a part of the Soviet Bloc. (CSSR- Split into two States in 1991, Czech Republic and Slovak Republic)
Milan: The sport was supported on those times, and everything was for free, Gym, equipment, and even transport for sportsmen. Professional Boxing was not allowed in all Eastern Europe in those times. Amateur boxing was not popular in CSSR but in 1980 Jan Franek received bronze medal in Olympic Games in Moscow, and people started being interested in Boxing. I started boxing when I was 24 and I started to be successful. I became Champion of Czech Republic and I was second at the CSSR championship, when I lost with Michal Franek, who became Junior World Champion. Because I was a Police Officer and boxing center was in Usti nad Labem, I moved there with my family. Since that I did boxing for living but I was still Police officer. In that time there were not many choices of training centers , Police had "Red Star", Army had "Dukla" and Universities had their teams. Boxing was in Usti and there were also National Team boxing Centre. If you were in Usti you could go for international tournaments where you could fight amateur boxers from all the world. At this time we had in CSSR two leagues, first and second. We had two tournaments every year. I competed one year against Cuba National Team and I fought with checkered success. I was working hard and I qualified for Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992. But a new rule that you had to be 32 or younger was applied, so I couldnít go and represent my country. After communist regime fell, professional boxing started in Czech Republic. It was hard for me because I was old and nobody wants me on team. Finally I started boxing for German manager Olaf Schroeder. I am Czech Champion, Austria Champion, and four times I fought for German title. In 1994 I fought in the USA. I do boxing because I like it and it allows me to travel.
Lukas: When my father came to Usti he did not have technique and won thanks to his big pugnacity and big heart. In Usti, he started to train regularly, and he learned the basics correctly. He had bad luck in Pro Boxing because he came into it late in life. So he fought mostly like an outsider and had to fight abroad, where he was harmed by many referees and bad decisions.
Lukas continued; I was thinking about switching to Professional Boxing for a long time. When I was 17, I received an offer from my fatherís manager, but I wasnít sure about it so I didnít make the switch. Now I think that I made the right decision because after that I won twice the bronze medal in World Championships. I started thinking about switching seriously when I was 24, before the Olympic Games in Sydney. I had only one motivation for amateur boxing in Olympics, so after not being successful in Sydney I was decided. I didnít want to wait another 4 years for Olympics. I sent offers to boxing clubs via email and received few answers. One was from Florida, so I send them videotape with my amateur fights and I got prompt specific answer, that he would make me World Champion. But at that time it was to far and I didnít want to leave my family. The second offer came from Poland, but it did not seem serious. I finally chose German Team SES in Magdergurg because it is just 170 miles from Usti nad Labem. As for my start in boxing, it was easy. My father was a boxer and of course I wanted to be the same and I saw a good example in him. I started to train with him sometimes and after a while I started to train by myself.
Keith: Compare the conditions in Boxing in the Czech Republic now and before.
Milan: It was something totally different. Before it was easier to start, everything was free and good boxers would get support from state so they didnít have to think about what will happen after they quit, but you could never make it to the top, no pro boxing. Now you have to pay for everything but if you are good, and work hard, you can do it. You can fight wherever you want. It is only about your skills and not about any government.
Keith: Why are you Boxing
Milan and Lukas; Boxing is excellent and most of all totally an all purpose sport. You need power, speed , good conditioning, you have to think, and be smart. You can compare yourself with other fighters. It is up to you in the ring, because it is only you and your opponent.
We both wish to fight in the USA so we can compare European style with American. Our dream is both of us fighting in the USA in the same boxing event.
After years in the amateur ranks and a decade in the proís Milan no longer dreams of big titles in boxing he wishes only one thing for Christmas. Opportunity! Something he often didnít have in his career. His dream is one more fight, here in the USA, in front of an American audience. He wants to introduce his son and fight on the same card. Milan told me that when he was growing up there was no televised events but everyone knew of Ali and Foreman.
Lukas is undefeated and moving up quickly, at 19-0 with 10 koís, and Milan is waiting, he did appear in the US on HBO "Boxing after Dark" show on the Barrera vs. McKinney under card. Milan has had some tough luck in his pro career. Often because of his age being the subject to some of Germanyís judging issues. We all know about their reps.
I wonder if somewhere in this land of opportunity, there is a promoter ,that in the spirit of Christmas can make this dream of the Konecnyís happen. Perhaps some promoter that believes that "Only in America" can dreams become reality. Maybe some other promoter whoís heart is in the right place. Someone that understands the struggle these men endured and the commitment of two generations to the sport.
If you the fan would purchase a ticket to see Lukas and Milan fight on an a card together please write me at [email protected] Cast a vote for freedom and dreams. I for one would support this dream.
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