Q & A: George Kandelaki

07.07.06 - By Per Ake Persson: Georgian heavyweight George Kandelaki was one of the biggest names on the amateur scene in the early 90īs and there were big things expected of him when he turned professional in 1998. After some problems adjusting to the pros he appeared to be heading for stardom but by 2002 there was a long layoff. He had one fight in 2003 and then he disappeared only to pop up as the President of the newly founded National Boxing Federation of Georgia.. Through its PR man Mamuka Bakuria I caught up with the former WBU heavy champ for an interview.

Q: Are you retired from boxing? You are only 32 ...if yes, why?

A: I am retired. I was forced to retire due to an eye injury. I tried to continue but eventually I had to call it quits. It was a very dramatic decision to make but I had to follow the advice of my doctors.

Q: Can you tell me about your amateur career? I know you did pretty well ...

A: Well, yes I agree, I did pretty well ... I was junior champ in the USSR 88-89, World champ at junior level in 92, silver in the World championships in 93, European champ the same year, I won a bronze in the 96 Olympics and Gold in the World Championships in 1997 and then I turned pro in 1998.

Q: Why did you begin with boxing?

A: Why I began with boxing? Well, I remember my childhood with a smile ... I was very restless and got into trouble everywhere. Eventually my father brought me to a boxing club and I kind of found myself.

Q: What do you say about your pro career?

A: I was pretty successful, I had 24 bouts and won them all, 18 by KO. I became the WBU champ. I wish I could say I had fought the very best out there but unfortunately that wasnīt to be due to my injury.

Q: Was it difficult to adjust from amateur boxing to the pros?

A: Indeed, it was some problems, you need to have a different level of conditioning in the pros and also be stronger psychologically but once you are passed the first test everything gets easier.

Q: You fought most of your fights outside of Georgia, what about your training, was that also done abroad?

A: Yes, most of it, I trained a lot in England and also elsewhere. I had only one problem with that and that was leaving my family, friends and hometown behind but at the same time it made me stronger as I knew that my success also would be their success.

Q: Any chance for a comeback? You were after all 24-0 ...

A: Unfortunately no, my eye problems make it impossible.

Q: There seems to be a lot of good boxers in the Georgian Republic, why would you say that is?

A: I agree, there is a wealth of talent here. There is also a big interest for sports in general among the youth here. Today itīs no problem to make sports a professional career and a lot of our youth go for that and that goes for boxing too.

Q: You are now the President of the Georgian Federation, what do you see as you most important duties in the position?

A: Well, my team and myself are working hard to promote and popularize professional boxing, help young boxers, look for investors and financial aid in order to help developing boxing. We also have contacts with Federations and organisations abroad. Itīs hard work but Iīm happy to do it.

Q: What do you do besides being the President of the Georgian Federation?

A: This is my fulltime job, there is no time for anything else, I begin work at 8 am and end late at night. Georgian pro boxing is young and we need to work very hard to make it grow.

Q: What do you do outside of boxing?

A: The little free time I have is spent with my family and friends. When thereīs enough time I take my family to the wonderful Georgian countryside. I am married since eight years and have two kids, my son Tarash is aged seven and reminds me a lot of myself in that age and have already taken some boxing lessons. My daughter Nataly is four years old and is a very pretty girl. After all I consider that my greatest achievment are my family and children.

Article posted on 07.07.2006

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