After Germany’s 7-1 humiliation of Brazil the rest of the world will be casting envious glances toward the plethora of talent available to them on the football pitch. But what of their boxing?
Modern fans may associate German boxing with biased judging, champions refusing to leave the country and delightfully conservative fight fans, but such stereotypes only gloss over what Germany brings to the sport as a whole. Read on to find out how it shapes up in comparison to the Boxing World Cup’s other nations.
Today’s Pro Fighters
When it comes to the present, the German boxing philosophy appears to be “the bigger the better”. There is a genuine scarcity of quality German fighters the deeper down you go into the weight divisions, leaving a top heavy feeling to the spread of German pugilists, with most of them residing above the welterweight division.
On a more positive note, Germany has embraced and promoted its multi-cultural society through boxing, with many of its major stars of foreign descent. Cruiserweight bruiser Marco Huck left Serbia at the age of eight. Arthur Abraham originally hails from Armenia, Robert Stieglitz from Russia and new favorite Jack Culcay was born in Ecuador. It truly is a diverse melting pot of fighters from far and wide, all of whom attract large local, on occasion national, followings.
In terms of levels, many of Germany’s best fighters are to be found near the top of their divisions. Huck is a top cruiserweight contender and long-time titleholder, Felix Sturm is a middleweight veteran and the same can be said of Juergen Braehmer at light heavyweight. None of these are division champions though. The fact that these are probably the best fighters Germany has to offer suggests a dearth in elite level talent.
Fans & Venues
Big-time German fight events are spectacular. Say what you want, the Germans know how to put on a show. Whether it be holograms of former champions offering words of wisdom to the home fighter before his ring walk, or a live rock band performance, big time German boxing is about the event. It is difficult, however, to think of a single standout German boxing venue, with many of the bigger fights taking place at football stadiums or arenas.
A strange ambiance may tend to fall over a boxing ring when that ring happens to be in Germany. At least, that’s how it feels from a television set, appearing as a real contrast to the raucous hollering fans usually provide at fights in other countries. However, if the fans aren’t going crazy during a match, chanting continually as they may be in Britain or elsewhere, they show up regularly, and in force, and that showcases the true passion of the fans.
Top fighters routinely sell out large venues, even when they’re fighting against modest opposition. Even adopted fighters of the nation, such as current heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, have huge followings in the country. A Klitschko fight in Germany is basically a guarantee for 50,000 fans no matter who he’s fighting.
The Germany as we know it today was once divided by political ideology, with East and West at times competing separately in Olympics and amateur championships until reunification in 1990. As a result, the history of German performance in amateur boxing is fragmented.
Were you to combine the Olympic medals accrued by both West and East German teams, as well as those achieved by a unified Germany throughout history, then Germany would find itself settling in the second tier of medalists, behind heavyweight achievers USA and Cuba. The same can be said of its World Amateur Championship performance.
There has not been a German boxing medal at an Olympics since 2004, however, which does not look promising. It all points towards a solid, but unspectacular, amateur system.
When considering German coaches, only two stand out: Ulli Wegner and Fritz Sdunek. Those two though are legends, and maintain stables which attract basically every big name which comes up through the German ranks. Wegner has notably worked with the likes of Sven Ottke, Arthur Abraham, Robert Helenius, Marco Huck, while Sdunek has taken on both Klitschko brothers, Ola Afolabi and Felix Sturm over the years, to name but a few. Top German fighters tend to stay with their team and their coach for the duration of their pro careers.
History & Significance
Throughout history there has been a slight quiver upon the lips of title challengers that have had to travel to Germany in order to fight for, hoping to win, a world title. This is due to the at times favorable scoring that ‘home’ fighters have had there, perhaps an unfair assessment, given hometown judging happens everywhere.
Max Schmeling is one of the greatest German boxers of all time, and played a part in one of the most socio-politically relevant moments in boxing history. Schmeling had beaten the previously undefeated Joe Louis within twelve rounds when they had met in 1936. Louis was a heavyweight on the rise; a black American with power and a gentle demeanour. Nazism was at its zenith in Germany, and though Schmeling did not publicly align himself politically, his victory over Louis was propagandized in his home country. As such, Louis’ one round knockout victory in their rematch in 1938 was a powerful symbol, more than just a boxing match.
Alongside Schmeling, Germany has contributed fighters such as Sven Ottke, Darius Michalczewski and Henry Maske, though none of these would figure particularly high on an all time pound for pound list.
Number of ProBoxing-Fans Top 20 Pound for Pound
No German boxers occupy our top twenty – so no points here.
Bonus Points: 0
Overall Boxing World Cup Score for Germany: 14 points