By Jeff Emond Jeffrey
Meet the Chechen Wolf, a pure example of determination and courage. Already in his early age, this young man has learned to survive and adapt in his native Chechnya to become one of Canada’s greatest hope for a gold medal in this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Biyarslanov proved that this dream can come true by bringing the gold to Canada in the 2015 Pan Am games in Toronto. Earlier this week, the three-time national champion as agreed to talk to us about his goals and inspirations for the noble art.
Jeff Emond Jeffrey : How did your interest in boxing begin?
Arthur Biyarslanov : I never thought I would become a boxer. My brother Rustam brought me into this sport. I used to be a soccer player. At first, I hated it, but winning and getting trophies, medals and respect is what made me going and eventually made me fall in love with boxing.
JEJ : Who is your favorite fighter ?
AB: Mike Tyson. He knocked everybody out and was so fierce and vicious. I also like Roy Jones Jr. because he was so entertaining to watch, he would do something fancy to entertain the fans and was just so quick and tricky.
JEJ : What is your amateur record at this moment?
AB : I have 80 fights and 12 losses.
JEJ : What’s the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
AB: Well. Being a three times national champion is something I’m very proud of, but winning a gold medal at the 2015 Pan Am games in Toronto for Canada would be my best achievement. The best is yet to come. The crowd support was amazing, everyone was yelling my name, it was crazy.
JEJ: What can you tell us about this amazing moment?
AB : I was training so hard for this, knowing it was the biggest tournament of my life because it was in our hometown. Lots of countries took part in this contest, so I had to measure myself with some of the best athletes in the world. The last time a Canadian won a gold medal at the Pan Am Games was 40 years ago. It meant so much to me to bring back the gold to Canada, such a big accomplishment for me.
JEJ : Did you feel pressure at any point during the tournament ?
AB : During the semi-final against Luis Arcon Diaz, a Venezuelan fighter. Not because of the fighter, but my desire to be in the final was overwhelming, so I was a bit nervous. After this win, I felt no pressure at all during my last fight with Yasnier Toledo from Cuba.
JEJ: How did you keep your focus during the games?
AB: There were a lot of distractions at the village. I kept myself in a bubble and stayed in my room watching fights and analyzing them.
JEJ: What is your motivation to work so hard?
AB: I want to be the best in the world. To do that, you have to work hard, because nothing is given to you and life is not easy. If I give my best every day, I know things will go the right way.
JEJ: How do you describe your boxing style?
AB: I have different styles depending on my opponents. If I need to move, I will do it using my feet and if I need to exchange, I can hit hard and I’m quick too. Most importantly, I got a big heart.
JEJ: Did winning gold in Toronto help you in any way to get sponsorship for your career?
AB: I got a bunch of claps and a pad in the back, but I’m getting OTP (Own the podium) which is going to start in April. OTP will help me for my trips and accommodations. On the podium program supports the most deserving athletes according to their results, like having a gold medal at the Pan Am for example. Since I have a good chance to make it to Rio and win a medal, this program invests in me. Not every athlete on the national team has the opportunity to be part of this program, so it’s a big help.
JEJ: How did you get the nickname ‘’Chechen Wolf’’?
AB: It’s not just a nickname. It comes from when I was really young in Chechnya. My father always told me to be like a wolf from a very young age and when I was 4 years old in 1999, the second cold war started we were crossing one of the borders to reach the destination of Azerbaijan and war broke out in that area. The soldiers were carrying me and asking me what is my name. I told them I was ‘’Noxchi Borz’’, the Chechen Wolf.
JEJ: Do you have current sponsors to support you?
AB: Caroline Rhéaume, a tax-lawyer helps me with a few things, like trips and equipment to keep me going in my training. She is very supportive. She helped me for my trip to Hungary, got me shoes and added a financial support during my tournaments so I can focus on boxing. Also, the Chechen community gives me a financial help.
JEJ: Do you have other support from the government?
AB: Yes. It’s all going to start in April. It’s called the carding from Boxing Canada. It provides the elite level athletes in Canada with funding assistance. Most people on the national team get the carding, it’s a monthly income from the boxing federation for making the national team.
JEJ: How does Chris Johnson, an Olympic bronze medalist for Canada influence your way of training?
AB: It’s fun to learn from an experienced fighter like Chris. We connect very well and he’s the perfect coach for me. Chris is such an inspiration. After all, he won a bronze medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, also won gold at the Commonwealth Games and silver at the Pan Am games and went on to fight Antonio Tarver in the pro ranks. He’s a true superstar. His experience and motivation skills help me to grow as a fighter.
JEJ: Where do you want to go from here?
AB: My next step is to win a gold medal for Canada in Rio this summer. I just won a gold in Argentina and I am really happy about it.