The 56th WBC convention in Kiev, Ukraine, took place on September 30 – October 5, 2018. It was a major event for professional boxing, because the World Boxing Council is the leading organization in the field of prizefighting. But, the convention itself is of little interest for general audience. Therefore, let me tell you about some curious moments, which I witnessed or was told by reliable sources.
The convention was officially opened on October, 1. At this ceremony, I managed to get an autograph of Lennox Lewis – a legend of the heavyweight division. Well, it wasn’t easy as one might think. After entertaining the public, he hastily came down a platform. Surrounded by bodyguards and aides, the champion made his way to exit. In vain, I tried to draw his attention: “Mr. Lewis! Lennox Lewis!” Then, I sped up myself and boldly obstructed their progress. I presented The Lion with the below photo, while delivering a little speech.
“Mr. Lewis! Two years ago, I visited a Kazakh boxing and judo executive, Beket Makhmutov. At his home, two photos occupy an honorary place: one, where he stands next to Muhammad Ali – The Greatest – and your signed portrait”. Such information flattered his ego once again and Mr. Lewis gladly signed a book on boxing history, where I collect autographs of pugilists. Although, Lennox acts pompously like a king, he has proved to be quite an amiable person. On the other hand, a seemingly simple Evander Holyfield is a surprisingly arrogant fighter.
On October 2, the boxing celebrities made a charity tour of an Ukrainian orphanage. After its end, I attempted to interview him: “Mr. Holyfield, I am from Kazakhstan. Could you tell me about your encounters with Kazakh boxers? Maybe, you have friends in Kazakhstan?” But, the champion remained sullenly silent. Moreover, a few minutes later he refused to give me an autograph. As I learnt subsequently, he merely sells his certified signatures. Rather questionable practice, which surely doesn’t comply with a noble image of an athlete. However, more unusual happenings were still to come.
As the fate would have it, Mr. Lewis lost his passport. Of course, they refused to check him in at an airport. But, within hours the Canadian ambassador to Ukraine granted him a temporary document, which allowed The Pugilist Specialist to fly home. But, Evander encountered a check-in problem, too. He simply missed his plane. So, local team was angered at these signs of carelessness: “Guys, are you kidding?!” You know, how foreign diplomats are arrogant, slowly processing documents. An excellent US-French thriller Frantic, released in 1988, gives a telltale example of such bureaucracy, which treats haughtily even a compatriot under a tremendous distress. Two years later, there was an amazing Soviet-French-Austrian adventure comedy The Passport, which vividly portrayed long and complex misfortunes of a Soviet citizen, who lost his passport.
But, it is a rich man’s world. No wonder that Mr. Lewis relatively easy evaded the horrors of losing a passport abroad.