Sauerland coach Uli Wegner turns 65 today

26.04.07 - Happy Birthday, Ulli Wegner. The charismatic Sauerland coach, who has guided Sven Ottke, Markus Beyer and Arthur Abraham to world titles, turns 65 today. But even at an age where others seriously ponder retirement, Wegner is far from calling it a career. "I have not thought a single second about hanging up the gloves," he said. "I love what I do and I need the daily work. I am still keen to accomplish something special. I want my boxers to be the best."

Wegner, who enjoys a two-day mini-break at the East Sea, has developed close ties with all of his boxers. His leaderships skills have been praised more often than just once - he is a coach, father, teacher and dictator all at the same time. "Authority is key," he said. "Without it, nothing would work in this sport. But confidence is just as important." His athletes are full of praise for him. "He´s a doctor of boxing," cruiserweight Marco Huck lauded. And IBF middleweight champion Arthur Abraham added: "He is certainly a special human being. We have a very close and an extremely good relationship."

There is nothing Wegner hates more than losing - the "worst possible punishment", as he calls is. The star coach is known for his meticulous fight preparations. That´s where his East German background comes into play. "Apart from my discipline, the well-structured training plans which basically organise the whole day are key to top performances," he said. He should know - he made 176 fights as an East German amateur before turning coach all the way back in 1971.

Like many of his compatriots, Wegner faced a period of uncertainty when the wall came down in 1989 and was fortunate to keep working as a coach - unlike most of his colleagues. His success continued as he helped Sven Ottke to European amateur glory in 1991 and 1995 and also won Olympic medals with Thomas Ulrich and Oktay Urkal in Atlanta. After the 1996 Olympics he joined Sauerland Event and guided Sven Ottke to the IBF super middleweight title as well as the WBA crown. When the Phantom, unbeaten in 34 professional fights, called it a career in March 2004, Wegner had tears in his eyes. The success story would continue, though. Markus Beyer, who first became world champion back in 1999 when he defeated Richie Woodhall, regained his crown for a third time and Arthur Abraham also made a name of himself by winning the IBF middleweight belt at the age of 25.

Article posted on 26.04.2007

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