Alexander Yagubkin is an outstanding Soviet boxer, world champion and three-time European champion. He was a favorite of three Olympics in a row, but in the end did not go to any. In 1980, he was considered too young, in 1984, the USSR national team boycotted the Games, and four years later, the athlete was expelled from the team due to the refusal to share the fee with officials, and he hung his gloves on a nail. Soon Yagubkin was offered a professional contract and a fight with the American Mike Tyson in Japan, but authorities refused to leave the USSR. The former athlete no longer tried to return to the ring, got involved in crime and died in poverty. The tragic story of the best boxer of the 1980s is in the material “Tapes.ru”.
The name of Alexander Yagubkin is now known only to those who in the late 1980s followed domestic and world boxing. Then he was one of the most talented athletes of the generation, an invincible weight – the main contender for the gold of the most prestigious international tournaments. He won the European Championship in 1981, 1983 and 1985, the world championship in 1982, but the Olympic Games did not work out. Yagubkin could go to them three times, but each time the circumstances were against.
At the request of “Alexander Yagubkin” in Google there are more than seven thousand results, but it is good if at least half of them are of value. The latest news about the boxer dates back to August 2013 – this is a three-note note on the website of the Russian Boxing Federation, reporting the death of a former athlete. No details, except that he was 52 years old, no.
It seems strange that the press is almost not interested in the biography of the boxer. He was forgotten, although he willingly agreed to rare interviews and, judging by them, was a rather sociable person. In addition, the story of Yagubkin is not only about the triumph in the ring, which many have sought; she’s also about the revenge of officials who didn’t let him go to fight with Mike Tyson, about the friendship with record-breaking athlete Sergey Bubka and businessman Rinat Akhmetov, about connections with crime … So what kind of person was this?
Yagubkin is from Donetsk. His mother came to Ukraine from Kursk, and his father from Orenburg, and both were simple workers in the mine. The boy stood out among his peers in physical strength, played football and swimming at the same time and, according to the coaches, was very gifted in both sports. True, at the age of 12, Sasha suffered a knee injury and did not return to any of the sections after recovery. And a year later, he first came to the boxing hall.
The Yagubkin family lived in the not very prosperous, outskirts of the city – on Petrovka. There you had to be able to fend for yourself, so boxing classes came in very handy. “They don’t go into boxing from the center, they go from mining areas. There are fewer mother’s sons. But not everyone will get into the mine, but only put these in a rack, teach them, and they will all how to do it, ”the athlete recalled later. He fell into the hands of a young coach Alexander Kotov, who remained his mentor throughout his career.
Kotov immediately discerned talent in the boy. Although Yagubkin attended training sessions irregularly and was generally not very enthusiastic about a new occupation, the specialist did everything to leave him in the section. To motivate the student, he even knocked out a new apartment from local officials with Yagubkin. He explained that Donetsk could lose a big champion. After that, the mother could no longer allow Sasha to skip classes. Yes, he himself was slowly drawn into it.
In 1980, the 19-year-old Yagubkin won the country’s absolute championship among adults in weight up to 91 kg. In the final battle, he defeated the current champion of the USSR Vyacheslav Yakovlev. So the Donetsk boxer drew attention to the leadership of the national team.
Yagubkin could well get to the 1980 Olympics, but they did not decide to save the not-so-experienced athlete, although the champion of the country, until the next Games. He was not upset, but began to stamp gold medals at domestic and international tournaments: it seemed he would never lose to anyone. For all the time, Alexander four times became the champion of the USSR, three times was the best in the championships of the continent, twice took gold at the World Cup and in 1982 achieved the main success in his career, having won the world championship in Munich.
Yagubkin deliberately went to the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and was her main favorite. However, the USSR national team boycotted competitions in the USA. Moreover, in the boxing tournament, the American Tyrell Biggs became a triumph, whom the Soviet athlete won in one of the match meetings a few months before.
Yagubkin took this fact painfully. He refused to understand why big politics was more important than his sporting ambitions.
However, even if there had been no boycott, Yagubkin’s trip to Los Angeles would still be in doubt. A year before the Games, he committed an act that angered Goskomsport officials. It was he who first broke his career, and then his whole life as a boxer.
The fact is that in 1983 Yagubkin, along with the coach, went to Ecuador. He was invited to a training camp – to raise the level of skill of the best local heavyweight Luis Castillo. For this relied on a decent prize, 400 thousand dollars. Just then, a powerful flood hit the country, and Yagubkin decided to donate all the money earned to the needs of Ecuadorian victims of the disaster. Although, according to the rules, he was supposed to bring the fee home and give most of it to sports functionaries.
The KGB officer reflected the actions of the boxer in the report, and in his homeland, of course, he was waiting for a debriefing. Now they began to follow Yagubkin more closely than usual. And when in 1987, he unexpectedly took silver, and not gold at the European Championships, put out of the team. This, of course, was only an excuse. So the boxer did not get to the 1988 Olympics, which was supposed to be his last chance, and hung gloves on a nail.
For several months after completing an amateur career, Yagubkin earned gambling. “There was no prohibition law: if you want, play, if you do not want, do not play. There was a warning nearby that it was a hoax, people read, but still didn’t pass us by. We made money easily, ”said the former boxer. Sometimes it was necessary to get into the police, Yagubkin recalled, but the main thing was that they managed to avoid fatal losses. Maybe they were all ahead, only in 1989, the American promoters entered the champion with a proposal to start a career in the professional ring. So the athlete tied with thimbles.
The fight with the legendary American Mike Tyson in Japan – this is what Yagubkin was offered. Professional world champion versus amateur world champion. Not a single Soviet boxer was previously offered a title fight in his first appearance in a professional ring. And after Yagubkin this also did not happen. Alexander without hesitation signed a contract and began to draw up documents for departure.
But it was not there! Goskomsport officials did not agree on this trip, and a resonant article appeared in the main sports newspaper of the USSR, “Golden Glove Under a Silver Thimble”. Yagubkin was refused exit from the country, and the agreement had to be broken. “In general, Tyson was lucky – we did not meet with him,” the champion ironically remarked years later.
In the 1990s, Yagubkin was engaged in business, in conflict with law enforcement agencies, kept in touch with crime … In general, he did not try to return to boxing. Then the first wife died, and the upbringing of the sons fell completely on his shoulders. It was not easy, but lonely Yagubkin never felt. In an interview with 2007, Alexander said that friends who appeared in those years turned out to be the most faithful. “Crime respects me. There are many familiar guys, among them there are athletes. I don’t look who is sitting and for what, ”he said.
He also recalled an interesting case: how he saved his friend Sergey Bubka from local bandits, as well as his fee. That’s because the athlete, according to Yagubkin, is a good person, “not a radish.” “Rogues drove in, they wanted to withdraw money. I talked with the crime, and he was left alone. Then, in gratitude, he outfitted me very well, ”said the former boxer.
Means for life in recent years were not enough. In the second marriage, Alexander had two more children, and everyone had to be fed. For some reason, Yagubkin did not accept the help of Rinat Akhmetov, a friend of his youth and a businessman who offered dusty work and good money. “I love freedom,” the former boxer explained.
He, the honored master of sports of the USSR, was also refused a higher pension. “They need my workbook. Why do they need a book if all the entries in the sports committee are? I’ve been in the national team for nine years and was awarded with such government awards that I wouldn’t need to work with a pension. ” He didn’t want to be a trainer either: he said that he didn’t have such a talent, and without abilities in pedagogy it’s better not to climb. So the champion lived in an old apartment without repair and asked for a loan at a nearby store. And he began to drink.
Only the summer house near Donetsk remained from the former boxer’s life. He went there sometimes, and in August 2013 he did not return from one such trip – he died of a heart attack. I felt bad suddenly, and the ambulance did not have time for him.
It is not audible that tournaments dedicated to Yagubkin are held in Ukraine or Russia, there is no school named after him – nothing seems to be connected with the figure of the champion. He often repeated: “In general, boxers do not live long, they have been going on for three years. Blows to the head, knockouts … ”But even so: why should the memory of prominent of them, even those whom fate itself sent to knock out, not have to live?