Portrait of the German World Championships team: Artem Harutyunyan (light welterweight)
Artem Harutyunyan has plenty of associations with the letter H. Not only that his surname begins with it, but Hamburg is also an H word. The location for the Boxing World Championships from 25 August to 2 September means home for our beacon of hope in the light welterweight class. This is where he grew up. As the “hero of Rio de Janeiro”, Harutyunyan was the only German boxer to win a medal at the 2016 Olympic Games. And it was the first Olympic boxing medal for Germany since 2004. H for hooray! At that time, the Germans Vitali Tajbert and Rustam Rachimow were successful in Athens.
The success of Rio gives self-confidence
Unlike in Rio, Harutyunyan does not want to be the only one who wins precious metal at the home World Championships in Hamburg, the first world championship title bouts in boxing on German soil since 1995 in Berlin. He is definitely hoping to win another medal. Following his Olympic bronze, the 26-year-old would like nothing more than to see a happy end as amateur world champion.
From refugee to champion
He already is a professional world champion: when the former refugee from Armenia won the title at the professional series of the AIBA world association in Hamburg in 2015, he was already writing history – an H word yet again. Harutyunyan is and remains the first and last champion of his limit up to 64 kilograms. The reason for this is that AIBA professional boxing association, APB for short, as a temporary third arm of this world association alongside the amateurs and the semi-professional team competition World Series of Boxing (WSB), was discontinued for financial reasons. This means that Harutyunyan can rightfully be proud that the title he fought hard to win – and would have loved to defend – remained with him, as he related in an interview with Oliver Jensen for the BoxSport magazine (issue 6/2017).
For Matthias Heidrich (starting with an H) of North German radio, Harutyunyan’s story is a “boxing fairy tale”, the title of his article about the path “from child refugee to the Olympic podium“.
Klitschko brothers reloaded?
During this rise to prominence, his brother Robert, himself a skilled boxer in the lightweight class up to 60 kilograms, was usually at Artem’s side. In the meantime, both “Harutyunyan brothers”, as they like to call themselves in social networks, once again live in Hamburg, where the family first arrived in 1991 after fleeing the war in Armenia.
Back then, Artem was one year old. The fact that today he is number one in his class is something he attributes to his father’s influence, his own talent, discipline and ambition and also his former coaches at the inter-culturally aligned Hamburg Eilbeck Gymnastics Federation, where there are a variety of fighting sports on offer. All over the country, Harutyunyan is regarded as a prime example of how integration can succeed through boxing.[/su_youtube]
Wearer of the Silver Laurel Leaf
He became known to a wider public when he was captured by television cameras with the German president at that time, Joachim Gauck, at the reception for Olympic athletes at the town hall in Frankfurt on 23 August 2016. Beforehand, Gauck had awarded him a medal – in the same way as all Olympic medal winners – the Silver Laurel Leaf. “That was a great honour for me,” the boxer told the NDR TV channel.
This eloquent popular figure is also held in high regard outside of his sporting discipline: when the best ski racers in Germany successfully completed a guest training session with the world championship hopefuls at the Rhine-Neckar Olympic training and performance centre in Heidelberg at the beginning of June, which attracted a great deal of attention in the media, the world-class slalom racer Felix Neureuther and the world-class boxer Harutyunyan came across as ‘old mates’ when they did some playful sparring for the TV Complete cameras.
Complete conzentration for a title in Hamburg
In the meantime, Harutyunyan has adopted a two-pronged approach to his training: in Hamburg, the former lightweight world champion Artur Grigorian supports the ambitious athlete of the German Army sports promotion group. For his direct preparation for a bout, he is working once again with Michael Timm at the federal training and performance centre in Schwerin, where Harutyunyan lived for some time and where he also laid the foundation for his Olympic bronze medal. Timm, a former winner of the ‘Chemiepokal’ and European champion as a light middleweight, is a successful coach of both professional and amateur champions. Harutyunyan knows how to profit from the strengths of both members of his support team.
At the high altitude training camp in Sölden in the Austrian Ötz Valley, he was obviously focussed on the highlight of the sporting year in 2017. Following the mountain bike tours with steep upward inclines in some pretty rough mountain weather conditions, Harutyunyan said: “No bad weather was able to stop us. It’s our aim to become world champions in Hamburg.” No question: our great hope in the light welterweight class from Hamburg is highly motivated for his home World Championships – to say it with as many H words as possible. H for Harutyunyan.
At boxing2017.com we introduce further top athletes of the German World Championship Boxing Team: Salah Ibrahim, Ibrahim Bazuev, Omar-El Hag, Igor Teziev, Silvio Schierle, Hamza Touba, Abbas Baraou. Follow us at Facebook or have a look at boxing2017.com regularly – there will be more news to come!
© Peter Jaschke