Interview: German Middleweight Dirk Dzemski
19.01.04 - While domestic middleweights like WBA # 2 Bert Schenk or WBO champion Felix Sturm have received bigger exposure on a bigger scale, they were Ė almost without notice Ė left behind in the German Ratings (see www.german-boxing.de) by a guy from East Germany who holds nothing more than the NBA belt. The talk is about undefeated southpaw Dirk Dzemski, who performs on DSF television, a pure sports channel, and has build a very solid fan-base indeed.
Article posted on 19.01.2004
In an effort to find out more about the Ďdark horseí of German middleweight boxing, contributor Olaf Schroeder spoke to the 31-year-old Dzemski about his life, his profession and goals and his national rivals.
To begin with, tell us about your amateur career, please, Dirk!
My father was an amateur boxer, so it came natural to me to pull over the gloves when I was 10 years old. My dad became my first coach, also worked in my corner and I took full advantage of the importance of boxing in the former East Germany. I progressed to become GDR national champion a few times and won quite a handful of medals at international tournaments. Later, I fought in the German Bundesliga and won the team title as well as the team cup. All in all, I won 210 out of 240 amateur contests and was ready to call it a career in early 2000.
Thatís when you stumbled by chance into Ulf Steinforth, who had just started in Magdeburg, where you live, the new SES Boxing team?
Correct. I knew Ulf from his involvement in the Magdeburg amateur club for whom I boxed. He told me about his professional plans as a promoter and because boxing was still in my blood, I liked what he said. Soon after, we signed a contract and I havenít looked back. I really liked the challenge and suddenly I had a chance to actually make money from my talent instead of just boxing for fun.
Your career today stands at 21-0 (12 KOís) and you have defended your NBA title four times already. What are your plans in boxing in the future?
Sure Iíd like to keep hold of my NBA title, but at the same time Iíd like to go all the way to the top, fight the top guys for the best titles. However, you know that I canít just call those guys and make an appointment and therefore (manager) Ulf (Steinforth) has to make a move now. I donít have the most time in the world and I demand to know where I rate with them. Purely as a sportsman, I canít wait to find out how I would fare and my desire is so deep that money honestly would not be the issue with me.
Boxing insiders donít really rate the NBA title as an achievement. How do you answer those critics?
Look, for me all that counts is the sport and in such context it nowadays is more important who you box rather than for what you box. I think I have competed in good company so far and it wasnít easy sometimes Ė you always have to win first before getting a title. So, honestly, I am proud of my achievements until now.
The two main rivals in your weight in Germany are Felix Sturm and Bert Schenk, who have a higher profile but are ranked behind you in Germany. Any chance to fight them in the future and how would you rate yourself against them?
Sure, I would be more than happy to fight them, but unfortunately boxing politics might not allow it to happen. How would I fare? Well, everything is possible in boxing and I know I can dig hard and I also know it will be difficult for them to avoid getting hit for all 12 rounds. Now Iím not so arrogant to say ĎI will winí, but one thing is for sure: It would be mightily interesting.
Who was your hardest opponent so far?
American Kippy Warren, against whom I won the vacant NBA title. He was taller than a lot of heavyweights and a southpaw to boot. He was always on the backfoot and I had to chase him all over the ring, a style that does not suit me naturally. I perform best when my opponent is coming at me, is strong, wild and wants to win.
When will we see you in the ring again? Any plans that you can tell us about?
Iím scheduled for another title defence in April, but have just yesterday told Ulf that I want to have a non-title fight prior to that. I had a lot of bad luck with injuries like the operation on my achilles tendon. Now Iím fully fit, raring to go and want to build on my record as fast as possible.
Finally, what about Dirk Dzemski as a private person? What job did you learn and do you have a family of your own?
Well, I learned to be a car mechanic, but outside of being a professional boxer I owe two solariums today, because I want to be financially independent from boxing, which can be over any minute. Me and my wife Anja are together for 13 years now and we have two beautiful boys named Tom and Marlon, whom I absolutely adore. Marlon just turned one year, but Tom is seven and mightly proud of what Iím doing.
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