LOS ANGELES, Calif., September 23, 2019 – Gennadiy Golovkin still had the familiar smile on his face, but his words reflected a different story.
“Boxing has become such an ugly business, with so many ugly people.”
After a media roundtable in Los Angeles in advance of his October 5 fight for the vacant IBF world middleweight title against Serheii Derevyanchenko at Madison Square Garden in New York, Golovkin was slowly making his way out of the room when he recognized and approached me.
Reporters aren’t supposed to be part of the story; circumstances allow for this exception. Perhaps it’s the familiar face, having met Golovkin at his first West Coast media event in 2013 when barely a dozen reporters showed up. Perhaps it’s the different approach as one of few veteran female boxing reporters. Perhaps it’s the lack of a video camera. My best asset is the ability to shut up and listen.
Golovkin still loves the sport but hates the business
Asking Golovkin how he the person and not the public figure was doing, he exhaled, and honesty began rushing out. Before allowing him to continue, I stopped and specifically asked if he was on the record. (Note to the boxing media: look up what this means). He said yes, and expanded on his thoughts with assistance on the finer points from interpreter Sergei Zamascikov.
His expression and body language were universally understood. Golovkin has verbalized his frustrations now and then in recent years, but not with this air of introspection.
“I’ve been in this business for a while,” said Golovkin, now 37 years old. “I know there are some good people in this business, but a lot of bad people. And I have to deal with both. My comment is a reflection of what boxing has become. Because sometimes it’s SO ugly, you feel really terrible, just looking at it.”
Reflecting further, Golovkin explained, “Listen, understand me correctly. The people should understand me correctly. Because even those people who know I well, sometimes they behave in such a terrible way. It’s really hard to excuse all that.
“I want to thank almighty God that my children don’t know about people like that. Of course, they are around people like that but my children thank God don’t have to deal with them. At least I know my children and boxing are not compatible. They live in different worlds,” said the father of two.
Golovkin goes toe to toe with boxing reality
The happy warrior most fans know as “Triple G” who has always put the fans first is not an act. Golovkin loves his sport, but his cheerful nature has taken the beating he has delivered to his opponents over the years.
Earlier during the group discussion, Golovkin said, “No one promised me this would be easy. When I started in boxing ten years ago … Listen, I’m a professional. Nobody told me it would be easy to be a professional fighter. But that’s what I do.”
Golovkin didn’t name anyone specifically. It doesn’t matter. Throughout his boxing career as an outstanding amateur and then an accomplished professional, Golovkin has tangled with dishonorable judges, promoters, and reluctant opponents who delayed or outright denied matchups. Coming to the U.S. in 2012, Golovkin surely thought his fortunes would change.
But two disputed outcomes against Canelo Alvarez in the record books must feel like the movie “Groundhog Day.” Earlier in the day, Golovkin said to the collective media gathering, “Getting all those titles doesn’t really reflect the situation in boxing right now. To say I want these, I want that, it doesn’t reflect reality.
“Let’s talk about what reality is today. We’re talking about the IBF title; I’m very happy I can do that right now. The situation is, Canelo (Alvarez) refuses to fight. We were supposed to fight in September. But this is the situation I have right now … I have to be ready for everything, as you can see the last couple of years,” said Golovkin.
Opportunity to help the next generation of champions
With less of his career ahead of him than behind him, Golovkin wants the chance to right at least some of the wrongs done to him and hopes he will not be denied this opportunity.
“It’s very difficult to talk about. Nobody knows what the future will hold,” said Golovkin. “What I really want to do, as I end my career, I want to help, spend more time with my family, and spend time with those people who I can help.”
Golovkin plans to wage this fight in his role as a promoter. Under his GGG Promotions banner, he has signed young men who remind him of himself like Ali Ahkmedov, the 24-year-old unbeaten super middleweight from Kazakhstan, now also training with Johnathon Banks.
“Definitely, it’s a very big part of my plan. We already have one great prospect on my undercard. I suggest you pay attention to this guy, Ahkmadov. I will continue to develop talent, I will continue to work with them.”
Golovkin told later, “It’s a completely new generation. I can give a little bit more. I give them more – a better education, a better experience. They are probably going to be a new type of people. Complete new generation, I hope so.
“I do everything to protect them, so they don’t end up in a situation like for example, I am in. If not, it’s better if they just continue and I will play golf on the weekends.” Golovkin isn’t a golfer.
No one need feel sorry for Golovkin. He has made enough money to live well and take care of his family. When we first met in person in 2013, I asked him if he was ready to become famous. “Of course,” he said. Reminded of this, he smiled and said, “Oh, such a long time ago.”
But everyone deserves to be seen for the person he or she truly is, even when the spotlight is shining down. Golovkin isn’t the character Borat, any more than actor Sacha Baron Cohen. Cohen’s impressive recent performance as an Israeli agent in “The Spy” seemingly parallels Golovkin’s more serious turn. Peeling off a few layers reveals something that seems new, but existed all along.
“Let’s be honest, we all learn from each other, all our lives. I’m excited about that, to be learning all the time. That’s a good thing to happen, to let God to do,” said Golovkin. Boxing fans, hate the game, not the player. Then do your best to change the game.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter and Instagram at @PRProSanDiego.
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