At August 26, a few artists of the ring are celebrating their Birthdays, but one of them must be specially underlined. Until nowadays he has been estimated as one of the greatest and biggest punchers of amateur boxing. Being only the middleweight, he has been called as Mr. Knockout!
Valeri Popenchenko was born at August 26, 1937, in Kuntsevo, the suburb of Moscow. Started boxing at age of 12, he has won the Junior Soviet nationals, but even then doesn't really felt interested in boxing. That's why Valeri took up the track and field, specialising on hurdle sprints. Once, in 1955, on the stadium in Leningrad where Valeri was studying, he met the famous boxing coach, Grigori Kusikyants, who overpersueded him to turn back to the boxing gym. Popenchenko had the boxing style, which wasn't typical for then-Soviet boxing comprehension and it doesn't really fitted into the Soviet org-mans understanding of the traditional amateur boxing. He was always attacking, but his hands was still low and often he involved himself into the rough exchange. Such an open fighting wasn't popular in the USSR and despite of the fact that Valeri already was the national champion, he hasn't been taking on the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.
The first big success came in 1963, on the European Championships in Moscow, where Popenchenko confidentely won the Gold medal at middleweight (75 Kilo). One year later Valeri has travelled to the Tokyo Olympics as the leader of Soviet national team. In Japan, Valeri won the Gold, beating three of his four opponents inside the distance. In the final bout against Emil Schulz, the opponent's corner took The German out in the first round. During his carrier, the most of his victories Popenchenko had by the way of KO, he is considered as one of the hardest punchers in the history of amateur boxing. In Tokyo, Valeri has been awarded with Val Barker Trophy, as the Outstanding Boxer of the Olympic tournament.
In 1965, Popenchenko for the second time captured the European title in Berlin and near after that retired from the boxing. It was the really unexpected move for the boxing observers and fans, but Valeri decided to continue his studies and dive into the science. In the mid 1970s Bauman Moscow State Technical University commenced construction of some new buildings and sporting facilities. As the head of the culture department, Popenchenko would often visit the construction site to check the work. On February 15, 1975, Popenchenko was visiting the site and, while running down the stairs where handrails were not yet installed, he lost his balance, fell three floors and was killed; he was just 37 years old.
Valeri Popenchenko is considered as one of the best Soviet-Russian and also world's greatest amateur boxer of all time. Unfortunately, while Valeri was boxing the Soviet fighters weren't allowed to turn pro, where undoubtfully Popenchenko would also face the great success. This year Mr. Knockout would celebrate his 77-th Birthday!
Also in this day were born;
In 1901, New York. The 1920 Summer Olympics Champion at flyweight (50.8 Kilo) and later on, as pro, World, NBA, IBU and NYSAC champion, Frankie Genaro, in the full name Francesco Di Gennara. Frankie won the Olympics at the age of only 19, and later has defended his world titles for eleven successful times, winning his first belt in 1928 in Canada, beating by points, the local Frenchy Belanger. And for the last time losing the title to The Frenchman, Young Perez in Paris, by KO in the 2-nd round, in 1931. Genaro's final record was 79(19 KO)-21(4 KO)-8. Frankie Genaro pasted away in 1966, at the age of 65. This year he would be celebrating his 113!
In 1958, Almaty, Kazakhstan, was born 1979 Amateur European Champion in Cologne, Victor Demyanenko. Victor has the record of 267-13, and he also has been the runner-up at the 1980 Moscow Olympics at lightweight (60 Kilo). Clearly winnining the first four fights, in the finals he lost by the TKO in the 3-rd, bacause of bad cut, to the legendary Cuban, Angel Herrera. This year Victor Demyanenko becomes 56-years-old!
The former two-time WBA light-heavyweight champion of the world, Silvio Branco, was born 1966 in Civitavecchia, Italy. Branco has won his belts in 2003 and 2006. This year he becomes 48-years-old and still be active as the fighter. In his 26-years-long boxing carrier Il Barbaro had fights against the champions as Sven Ottke, Fabrice Tiozzo, Glen Johnson and Stipe Drews. Today, Silvio Branco has the record of 63(37 KO)-11(4 KO)-3.