After more than 30 years in boxing, Wilfried Sauerland will officially be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York this weekend. Boxing-Online.com has caught up with the German promoter to speak about the biggest honour in boxing, the celebrations and the future of Team Sauerland.
Q: Congratulations, Wilfried Sauerland. What does the Hall of Fame induction mean to you?
WS: “It is a great honour for me. When I got the call, I was very happy and also very touched – after all, this is the biggest honour in our sport, the Oscar of boxing! I happen to be the second German after the great Max Schmeling, which makes it very, very special for me. I am very grateful and I want to thank our boxers, coaches and everybody at Team Sauerland – they deserve the credit. But I also consider this a prize for German boxing. When we revitalised German boxing in the eighties, I would have never envisioned Germany to become one of the top boxing nations of the world!”
Q: So will you celebrate the induction in style?
WS: “Most certainly! We are already looking forward to the big induction weekend in Canastota with all the events. It will be so good to meet all the reigning and former champions, all the boxing experts and all the fans who love our sport. My family can´t wait to go. By the way, I really want to thank my wife Jochi for her support. We have travelled all over the world to watch boxing – it must be hard if your husband speaks about boxing all day long, but she is very understanding.”
Q: You have been in boxing for more than 30 years. What have been the best memories?
WS: “We have a lot of great memories. I started out in Africa, and the first highlight was John Mugabi´s fight against Marvin Hagler. Mugabi lost despite a great performance. I will never forget Rene Weller´s fights against Lucio Cusma. My first world champion was Graciano Rocchigiani, who defeated Vincent Boulware in 1988. The most special moments were when we celebrated new world champions – like Henry Maske against Prince Charles Williams, Sven Ottke against Charles Brewer, Markus Beyer versus Richie Woodhall, Arthur Abraham versus Kingsley Ikeke, Nikolai Valuev against John Ruiz, Marco Huck versus Victor Emilio Ramirez, Sebastian Sylvester versus Giovanni Lorenzo and Mikkel Kessler versus Carl Froch. And when Axel Schulz defeated George Foreman in Las Vegas but controversially lost on points – those were the biggest fights for me.”
Q: What were the most painful moments?
WS: “There were a few. Axel Schulz´ loss against Wladimir Klitschko, Henry Maske´s loss against Virgil Hill. Or when Markus Beyer lost his world title against Glen Catley in the 12th round despite leading on points. And of course the scandalous bout between Axel Schulz and Francois Botha when the fans threw bottles into the ring afterwards because of the strange decision.”
Q: What was the funniest moment?
WS: “I remember the world title fight between Chisanda Mutti and Lee Roy Murphy 1985 in Monaco. Both men went down in the 12th round after a double-hit. Neither man could beat the count, so the rule says that whoever gets up first is the winner. Murphy was lucky – he went down near the ropes so he could pull himself up and get back to his feet first.”
Q: What do you think about the future of Team Sauerland?
WS: “We are very fortunate to be in a great position. We have just extended our German TV deal with public TV giants ARD until 2015. We are the first boxing team to have agreed to comprehensive random drug testing in cooperation with the NADA. Over the last couple of years, my sons Kalle and Nisse have followed my path and become more and more involved in the promoting. Especially the Super Six tournament has been a major success around the world. Team Sauerland has established itself as a leading global promoter with shows in the US, Denmark, Russia, England or Germany. I believe there is a good chance that our business will become even more international in the future.”