Alexi Medvede & Valeri
of you guys out there the word "Belarus" doesnt say much. Only a few know
that this is actually a country and even less could point it on the map. Thats
how we were until recently
The fact is that the Belarus had already put
itself on the map of fighting sports and its time to wake up and notice
Here is a little geography lesson
you can use. Belarus formerly a part of the Soviet Union and located somewhere
right in between Poland and Russia, with the population of around 10 millions
and the capital city of Minsk. And so what?- you say. Here is the thing: for some
unknown reason (our guess: it has something to do with the water they drink) this
little city with population of less than 2 millions produced more Muay Thai champions,
K-1 fighters, wrestling and Sambo European and World champions than any other
city in the world!
See for yourself.
Here are some names you might recognize : Andrei Arlovski (UFC fighter, heavy
weight title contender), Vladimir "The Janitor" Matushenko (UFC fighter), Alexey
"The Scorpion" Ignashov (World Pro Muay Thai Champ, K-1 World GP 2001 Champion,
Pride FC champion), Sergei "The Bullet" Ivanovich ( MT Word Champ, K-1 fighter),
Sergei Gur (K-1 World Grand Prix 2004 France Champion), Dmitri Shakuta (2x Muay
Thai World champion), Dmitri Pesetski ( 2x Muay Thai World Champion), Vitaly Akhramenko
(MT World Champ ,K-1 fighter), Alexei Pekarchik (Muay Thai World Champ, Kings
Cup Champ), Sergei Karpin (MT European Champ)
And if this is not enough
here is another fact: April 2004 World Amateur Muay Thai Championship Chiang Mai
Thailand. Belarus had delegated 11 athletes and all 11 made it to the finals ahead
of any other country including Thailand itself!
at the Bangkok Fight Club we decided to investigate this mysterious phenomenon.
And what is the better way to find out than to actually visit the place
and so it was decided : the fittest BFC member Alex "the infodog" will be the
representative and the Bangkok Fight Clubs ambassador to Belarus. / I only
hope that other guys from the Bangkok Fight Club would skip this part /
The cheapest way to get to Minsk (Belarus) from Bangkok is via Moscow (Russia)
and the best fare was offered by the Emirates Airlines. Bags are packed and the
journey begins. Todd "The T-Rex" Barlow waved me good by at the Bangkok International
Airport and already cute looking flight attendants serving me drinks on route
to Dubai. 6 hours Bangkok-Dubai flight was quite pleasant and relaxing with lots
of food and drinks. Than another 5 hours in the Dubai International Airport before
the next flight to Moscow. Just a few words about the Dubai airport. There is
nothing you cant build if you got unlimited resources on your disposal.
And the DXB Airport looks just that. Another meal at the restaurant and they announced
my flight to Moscow. Sweet.
a plane again I decided that since I am a passenger than I will do what a passenger
is expected to do. Which are: eat, drink, watch movies and try to chat with stewardess
and so I did.
Moscow. We landed at
Moscow Domodedovo Airport, where I quickly got through customs and to arrival
hall. I was approached by few cab drivers, who looked unusually large to me after
their Thai colleagues- Bangkok taxi drivers. Luckily I was supposed to be picked
up and sent to the railway station and so I saved myself at least 50 bucks.
the up and coming Russian fighter was waiting for me at the Avis counter
as agreed. We shook hands. Vladimir was dressed sharp. He took me to his brand
new Mazda and put my bags into the trunk. He noticed my puzzled look, smiled and
replied that only a lucky few could make a decent living just by fighting, "but
for the rest of us there is also work and for some there is a hard work". We had
few hours till my train departure from the Belarussian Station and Vladimir offered
to show me "a little of Moscow" and than to have a dinner at some Italian place.
I approved the plan. We drove around Moscows avenues did some sightseeing
and dined at nice Italian place. Vladimir picked up the bill, I protested but
not too strong. In the evening Vladimir drove me to the train station which carries
the official title of "the Belarussian Train Terminal" and one of several (probably
6) large train terminals of Moscow. I thanked Vladimir and he offered to pick
me up again on the way back.
I got the ticket in a sleeping car in the "special express" train. Everything
inside was spotlessly clean (if any of you had traveled by trains in Thailand
than you know why I mentioned that) nice soft music played... Train moved, attendant
brought tea and biscuits. The other two passengers in my cabin were a girl
native of Belarus and now a student in one of the Moscows universities,
who looked more like a model to me and a guy in his twenties who works in some
PR company in Moscow. We chatted about politics, presidents, wars, students
life and some other stuff I cant even remember. Upon arrival to Minsk early
next morning we three were best friends.
My training was organized by Valeri Polukhine talented wrestler with multiple
national and international titles and once a member of national squad. The large
building of the Sports Palace located right in the downtown by the river and next
to the beautiful park. There are two huge halls for the freestyle and Greco-roman
wrestling, one almost as large for Sambo team, and another one with rings, heavy
bags and boxing equipment belongs to boxers. Thats where members of the
National teams are training and where I will be lucky enough to roll for the next
couple of weeks.
started at 4 pm sharp with about 20 minutes of pretty heavy warm up and than we
proceeded to some standup grappling drills, clinch, single- , double leg takedowns,
all the guys were super friendly and helpful and everybody
pushed each over hard. I loved the spirit of the place. Valeri said that the preparation
for the Athens Olympics is in the full swing and guys are training hard, but on
the other hand they always train like that. Last half an hour I grappled with
Valeri and it was quite an experience. His sensitivity developed by almost 20
years of wrestling is amazing! Even during pretty intensive grappling Valeri could
control his breathing so well that he even managed to talk and tell jokes and
funny comments to his opponents in the almost normal tone of voice. It seemed
impossible to see him tired. Thats for me a sign of the really skilled technician.
Next day we met again at 4 pm but instead
of mat work "we will play basketball" thats what I was told. I am
not a big fan of basketball I complained and cant dribble well. Thats
no problem, said Valeri, you dont need to
We were divided into two
teams with some wrestlers and boxers mixed in and game started. First thing I
need to say about their version of basketball is the only thing that relates the
game we played to its name is a ball and baskets to throw it in. It was actually
rugby on a basketball field and it was so intense and dynamic that after about
40 minutes I felt like I rolled for two hours. Than after the game we did some
grappling drills and weight training. Another game I was introduced to is a pull-ups
by numbers on a chin up bar. You start from one, than next person jumps in and
also does one, than you go two, your partners follows with two, than three, four
without pauses and lets see how far you can go.
we did another light training and went to the sauna which is located right here
at the building and only team members have a privilege to use. That was a treat.
Russian sauna is the great experience and also an important training tool or so
I was told. It helps your body to get rid of lacto acids accumulated in the muscles
after hard training sessions and a good aerobic exercise in itself. It was also
nice to listen to the old coaches sitting telling endless stories about fights,
Next day we
trained with Valeris friend and Sydney Olympics Silver medalist Alexey Medvedev.
This guy is scary! Really nice and friendly off the mat he could just smash you
with his strength and speed.
day my coach/training partner was Alexei Beliakovski, Greco-roman World
Champion, National champion and one of the coaches of the National team. After
the training Alexei insisted that I have to join their picnic on Saturday somewhere
just outside of the city by the lake and I happily accepted.
next weeks program was the training with the Sambo guys from the elite team
of the Police Academy and was also organized with the help of Valeri who seems
to know everyone.
The only condition
was that I cant take any pictures while training in that facility and this
was fine with me as well.
combat instructor Major Sergei Eremetko was really helpful and friendly. He invited
me in, stopped the training for a moment to introduce me as "BJJ guy from Bangkok
who will be rolling with us for the next week". I was given the "kurtka"
something that looks like a Gi top with some little differences and traditionally
used by Sambo practitioners. Also everybody wore wrestling shoes.
fighters dont use much of the chokes, but big on armlocks and leglocks.
They also spend lots of time perfecting their standup grappling and throwing.
We drilled nice flying armbars, rolling kneebars and some other Sambo trademark
techniques. The head coach of the Sambo Team is Colonel Anton Novik who is 3 times
Sambo World Champion and holder of many National titles. He took me under his
wing for the whole week of my training with the team and shared with me as much
as he could in such a short time.
afternoon session was a Combat Sambo which is actually what we call an MMA type
of training and also went pretty well.
flied and another week past pretty quick. I hope that my girlfriend isnt
reading this one but training wasnt the only thing we did in Minsk. It was
also some heavy partying on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday nights. We hit some
real hot night spots, clubs, discos, strip joint, even went to try luck in a casino.
Girls. Thats another story and its not for the training report but
take my word Eastern European chicks is something that will make you want to come
or even stay.
last part of my training program in Minsk was hosted by Michel Mozhar the head
coach and the President of the regional Muay Thai federation with whom we met
in Bangkok five years ago and who became my good friend. Michel introduced me
to some great young fighters whose names are to be recognized world wide pretty
soon, he said. Seeing their training I had to agree. These guys are training as
much if not harder than Thai pros in the camps around Bangkok. The sound of them
kicking the heavy bags bangs like gun shots
weeks past as fast as three days and here I am again: by train from Minsk to Moscow,
than to the airport and back home to Bangkok and already planning my next trip
This report was written specially for
my friends and training buddies from the Bangkok Fight Club just so I dont
have to tell the same story over and over again
Bangkok Fight Club