Wilfried Sauerland: 30 Years Of Boxing!

30.09.08 - Wilfried Sauerland celebrates a special anniversary today as it was 30 years ago that he staged his first boxing fight. Having fallen in love with the sport as a small child when his father took him to Dortmund´s Westfalenhalle to see Heinz Neuhaus in action, September 30, 1978 eventually marked the beginning of an astonishing career – a career he had never envisioned..

In the seventies, Sauerland had successfully started his own business in Africa where he owned bottling plants with offices in Johannesburg, Lusaka, Harare, Nairobi, Lagos and Cotenou. Then something odd happened. The Zambian foreign minister Banda made a special request for him to buy one of Sauerland´s manufacturing plants. He asked the German entrepreneur, who was living in London at that time, to use his connections and look after Zambian boxer Lottie Mwale to get him
international exposure. Unwilling to threaten the business deal, Sauerland agreed and promoted his first show in Lusaka on September 30, 1978, featuring Lottie Mwale.


Sauerland never looked back. Two years later, he staged his first show in Germany. In front of 600 fans in Cologne, his fighter Chisanda Mutti knocked out Uwe Meinicke in the third round. But the strong fighters from Africa, like Mwale and Uganda’s John Mugabi (who in 1989 won the WBC light-middleweight title), found it hard to attract huge crowds in Germany, leaving Sauerland in the need of local fighters. Germany´s René Weller, who later won the European lightweight title, and Manfred Jassmann soon pleased the German fans, as did Ralf and Graciano Rocchigiani, who under Sauerland won the IBF super middleweight title in 1988.

However, it was “The Gentleman” Henry Maske who then ignited a gigantic boxing boom in Germany. The fights of the IBF light heavyweight champion, who reigned from March 1993 to November 1996, as well as from heavyweight Axel Schulz generated record viewing figures for TV station RTL. Packed stadiums and reliable partners finally allowed Sauerland to make up for the financial losses he had suffered before. Things really took off from there, with boxing turning into one of the most popular sports in Germany, attracting an incredible fan interest.

Even after the retirements of Schulz and Maske, the boom would continue. Sven Ottke fascinated the German public by winning all of his 22 world title fights before retiring as the undefeated WBA/IBF super-middleweight champion in March 2004. Markus Beyer also won the WBC super-middleweight title three times. Nowadays, the likes of King Arthur Abraham, the undefeated IBF middleweight champion, WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev and 2004 Olympic gold medal winner Alexander Povetkin fascinate boxing fans all over the world. Alongside up-and-coming youngsters like Marco Huck and Karo Murat the trio, among others, will certainly continue Wilfried Sauerland´s success story in the future.

Article posted on 30.09.2008

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