MILAN KONECNY (43) ENDS HIS CAREER

21.10.03 – Veteran Czech cruiserweight champion Milan Konecny has finally ended his long and illustrous career last Friday (Oct. 17) in his hometown Usti at age 43 – and a grandfather since earlier this year! – in the most unlikely circumstance of boxing on a bill headlined by his own son, Lukas.

As the main support on this show staged by German promoter Ulf Steinforth of SES Boxing, Konecny senior successfully defended his title on points over 10 rounds against challenger Pavel Habr (14 years younger) while Konecny junior reached the highpoint of his young and so far undefeated career when outpointing Frenchman Aziz Daari over the same distance for the European Union crown at superwelterweight.

While neither Milan nor Lukas (in the latter case at least not yet) represents world class, this event can still be considered unique on a global level – or has anybody ever heard of a father and a son contesting championships on the same promotion? It indeed was memorable and even more so with Milan’s father and Lukas’ baby daughter being ringside to complete four generations of Konecny’s.

So let’s look briefly back on the career that closed down on Friday, because in his own right, Milan Konecny has served boxing considerably and carved his own niche in a sport that saw him battle the odds more times than not. He beat them in many a case, but even when he lost always conducted himself with dignity. He was a fighter. That should say it all.

Milan left it until age 33 to turn professional in 1993 after a successful amateur career of more than 200 contests. At first, his career-long manager Olaf Schroeder of Fight Production was resentful because of Milan’s late pro ambitions, however, he was persuaded by the fighter and his trainer Jan Cejna to sign a contract nevertheless, but decided to match him tough right from the start. And Konecny proved his worthiness: Of his first five pro victims, four had never lost before until running into the old Czech fox!

A career that now reached its final conclusion at 22-12-1 (11 KO’s) saw Milan ply his trade in 10 different European countries. He was respected so much that in 1996 he was invited in on the undercard of HBO’s inaugral “Boxing After Dark” show to support the Barrera vs McKinney superfight at Los Angeles’ Inglewood Forum. Milan did not disappoint, knocking out his local opponent with movie icons Michael Douglas and Dustin Hoffman as well as Sugar Ray Leonard watching on.

Konecny featured in many a small-hall classic, though title belts proved hard to come by. He won Austrian and Czech titles at lightheavy and only last year added the Czech cruiserweight crown. However, in three tries at the International German title he ended up empty-handed. Last May, Milan was finally awarded a shot at the IBO Intercontinental title, but had to travel to Belgium to take on local hero Ismael Abdoul. After six rounds with Konecny behind and showing the facial marks of a hard tussle, manager Schroeder compassionately decided to terminate proceedings. “His skin just doesn’t hold up anymore and I grew tired of patching up a 43-year-old who had absolutely nothing more to prove,” said Schroeder. While his warrior instincts led Milan to disagree initially, he saw the light the morning after, obviously thanks to a look in the mirror and the news that the same-night birth of Lukas’ daughter Anna officially made him a grandfather.

Nevertheless, he begged his manager to have a farewell fight as part of last Friday’s historic promotion just a few blocks away from where he lives. But Milan, 44 years in December, typically didn’t choose the easy way out. Battling through his own blood stemming from two eye and two ear (!) cuts for the entire 10 rounds, the old warrior closed the curtain in a way that served as a metapher for his 10-year pro career – and as a cheered winner!

“I feel privileged and honoured to have been his manager and am grateful for many wonderful memories,” said Schroeder.

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