A Night in Armenia by Frank Hadley
|The pre-fight press conference|
I was privileged to act as the boxing commissioner , on behalf of the Australian National Boxing Federation, for a historic night of boxing in the Armenian Capital of Yerevan, at the recent IBO Bantamweight Championship defence by Vic Darchinyan against Evans Mbamba of South Africa. Mbamba had an impressive record of 18 wins and one loss, that loss being to Tomas Rojas for the WBC interim super-flyweight title and he is trained by colourful boxing trainer Mr. Nick Dorante.
Armenia is a small country of about three million people that shares its borders with Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Iran. The capital city of Yerevan is situated along the Hrazdan River near Mount Ararat and is one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities. Yerevan is a beautiful historic city with many shops, cafes, fine restaurants and buildings, displaying a unique blend of ancient and modern architecture. The people of Armenia were very welcoming and friendly to us all and we enjoyed the best of hospitality. The promotion was held at the magnificent Karen Demirchyan Sports Complex . Despite Armenia having a great tradition in boxing this was the first professional boxing promotion to be held in their Country.
Supporting me and also acting as officials on the undercard were ANBF South Australian President and ring official, Mr. Tom Ferrauto and ANBF Treasurer and ring official, Mr. Andrew Campbell. Three other Australians were involved in the night. Steve Austin was the IBO appointed referee and Garry Dean was one of the IBO appointed judges, the other judges for the main event being Marcus McConnell (England) and Giustino Giovanni (Italy).
Every one of the Australians did a remarkable job and the refereeing and judging was of a consistently high standard throughout all of the bouts. In the main event, Phil Austin did an excellent job of controlling the contest in the ring, in what was a hotly contested bout. The other Australian to play his part in the event was ring announcer, Mark Warren. Mark put so much effort into the night that he literally had no voice left by the end of the night, his vocal chords were completely shot but not before he had stirred the eight thousand strong crowd into creating the magic of a big boxing atmosphere inside the magnificent stadium. The atmosphere was deafening and remained that way throughout the entire bout. The crowd, which included the Armenian President, Mr. Serzh Sargsyan and several Russian dignitaries, erupted once the scores were announced with Vic Darchinyan winning 120-107 on two cards and 119-107 on the other.
Vic was very gracious in Victory thanking his opponent and all those who made the night possible. He then made his way up to the Armenian President in the stands and presented him with his World championship Belt. It was one of those great moments in boxing where you feel privileged to be part of the sport.
Supporting the main event the undercard had three Armenian boxers all of whom were successful. Particularly impressive was Gabriel Tolmajyan of Armenia who won a hard fought points decision over Evgeniy Fyodorov of Estonia.
It was extremely innovative of Angelo Hyder, Elias Nassar and Vic Darchinyan to put the wheels in motion in organising this event. The ANBF were only too happy to play their part and send a team over to assist them with this major event and the hospitality we received from the Armenian people and the people on Vic’s staff made the job extremely enjoyable.
Our team of officials carried out their roles superbly, in a quiet professional manner and were a credit to Australian Boxing and, in particular, the ANBF. All of the Australians involved in this historic event considered it a privilege to be involved in what was a very special night of boxing in Armenia.
(Frank Hadley is the National Secretary of the Australian National Boxing Federation.)