For all boxers, victory in the ring is the main goal. However, to achieve it, one must not only possess technique, drive, and passion for the sport but also have a burning desire and strong internal confidence in one’s abilities, as well as the belief that the only correct outcome of the fight is to defeat the opponent. Behind every great boxer stands a great coach, whose mastery is best demonstrated through the championship titles of their protégés.
Today our guest is a titled athlete, a former professional boxer, and now a boxing coach, Arman Sargsyan, who knows all about the ups and downs of boxing.
Arman, the traditional question: how did you get into boxing?
I liked boxing since childhood. Probably, like most boys, I watched professional fights on TV with great pleasure together with my father. At the age of 6, my mother took me to a boxing gym. And already from the first training, I was finally convinced that I wanted to engage in this particular sport.
Tell me about your first significant victories.
I achieved my first significant victory at the age of 15. At that time, I became the champion of the city of Yerevan in the 48 kg weight category. At 18, I became a silver medalist at the Armenian championship in the 51 kg weight category. After serving in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Armenia from 2001 to 2003, I became the amateur boxing champion of the Central Federal District of the Russian Federation in the 60 kg weight category. I had 110 amateur fights, losing only 4 of them. During this time, I became a Master of Sports.
In 2003, I transitioned to professional boxing, where I continued my winning streak. Within a year, I won a match as part of the “Preparing World Champions in Russia” program. In 2006, I became the holder of two titles – the Russian Boxing Champion in the lightweight category and the Champion of the CIS and Slavic countries according to the WBC version. In 2007, I became the WBC Asian Champion, and in 2008, I became the WBL World Champion in the lightweight category. Overall, I had 14 professional fights, winning all 14, 8 of them by knockout.
You have been boxing as an amateur for several years and then transitioned to professional boxing. What motivated you to make this decision?
I wanted to be independent and achieve more than just diplomas and medals. Every boxer, and not just boxers, understands that professionals leave their mark in history.
What does an athlete need to do to enter professional boxing?
The first thing is athletic qualifications, titles, and victories in tournaments. The second is financial resources. The athlete must find the means or people who are willing to invest in them. The third is a good coach and manager. These are the main criteria.
Arman, do you think success in amateur boxing guarantees success in professional boxing?
I would say that amateur boxing is good experience and a good support. However, success in amateurs does not guarantee success in professionals.
Many athletes from post-Soviet countries move to Europe and the United States to build a professional career. Why?
Because there are more opportunities to become a good professional in the US and Europe. If a boxer is truly focused on achieving significant results, then sooner or later the question of relocation will arise.
Let’s go back to your boxing career. You had fourteen fights in the professional ring. Can you highlight one that stands out the most in your memory?
I remember every single fight of mine. Each match was interesting in its own way and different from the others. I always want to box and showcase beautiful boxing. If I had to choose one, I would say it was the fight with Ben Odamatti from Ghana. Perhaps, it was one of the most difficult and tense fights, a real slugfest. I won by points, but the Ghanaian boxer was also good.
Was there a fight that you regretted not happening?
I regret the fight that didn’t happen with the Mexican boxer Genaro Trazancos. It was supposed to be my first fight on US soil. But two days before the event, the opponent refused to fight. I don’t know why, as Genaro is an experienced boxer and at that time had almost three times more professional fights than I did.
What happened next?
I found a new opponent – Mexican boxer Leo Martinez. We had a fight in which I won by knockout in the seventh round and became the WBL lightweight world champion. I have already talked about it. In 2010, I had a non-title fight in Las Vegas, and then waited for two years for a title fight, which never happened for various reasons. So, I returned to Moscow and began my coaching career in 2013.
In 2017, I founded a boxing school where, in addition to teaching children and adults, we train competitive athletes. I was also a first-class sports referee for three years. In 2019, I moved to the United States, where I train Russian professional boxer Petros Ananyan, who competes in the super lightweight weight category. I also volunteer as a boxing coach at an elementary school in Burbank, Los Angeles.
In your opinion, is it harder to box or to teach others this craft?
Perhaps it would be wrong to compare the work of a professional boxer to the work of a coach. This is a topic that can be debated for a long time. Both professions are incredibly difficult. But as promoter Petr Kvyatkovsky said, “When they say ‘a boxer from God,’ I say ‘a boxer from a Trainer.'” And that’s true. No matter how talented a boxer is, without a good coach, he is unable to truly realize his potential. In world boxing, there are examples of great champions who were not able to become great coaches.
Arman, finish the sentence “For me, boxing is …”
Let’s delve a little deeper into what you said. It is known that many Eastern martial arts are positioned as a special philosophy and way of life. Do you think the same can be said about boxing?
More yes than no. If you think about it, every sport teaches the most important thing – discipline. However, in boxing, discipline holds a special place. In addition to toughening the character and fostering willpower, resilience, fearlessness, self-confidence, persistence, concentration – everything a boxer needs in the ring and is extremely necessary in the life of every real man, surprisingly to many, it also instills qualities such as modesty, respect, restraint, patience, and self-sacrifice. Therefore, it can be confidently stated that boxing is a great school of life. Many rashly think that boxing is muscle strength and that it teaches you how to hit. But that’s not true. Boxing is the strength of the mind, and it teaches you how to take a punch. Isn’t that philosophy?
You just said some intelligent and correct things. This doesn’t align with the opinion of the general public who believe that all boxers suffer from a lack of intelligence. What do you think about this?
I want to ask you a counter question: Is intelligence determined by a specific type of sport? Every person has a certain level of intelligence. Perhaps some people really lack it. But how can that be related to a particular sport, I don’t quite understand.
Thank you for your worthy answer. And finally, I want to ask a traditional question: What would you like to wish our readers?
I believe that every person, regardless of age, should find something they excel at, take it seriously, and never give up if something doesn’t work out. Only then can they achieve success and prosperity for themselves and their family. As Petr Kvyatkovsky said, “there are no weak people, there are those who do not want to become strong!”.