The Days of Boxing as a Poor Man Sport are Long Gone

We all know the famous movies about boxers. They grow up in the poorest parts of the city, with little education and low self-esteem. They learn how to box at an early age, usually for self-defense, and then turn it into a sport.

Eventually, they become quite skilled, enter a competition, win and advance to bigger and bigger matches, until ultimately they become champion of the world and make millions of dollars.

The story of Anatoliy Pshegornitskiy is a little like this, but without the world championships and riches. Anatoliy has earned good money, but not from his boxing fame. However, his beginning in what was then known as the USSR was modest. He spent 10 years in the Soviet Army and became a well-known boxer during his early years of service. For Anatoliy, boxing was a way to stay fit and also a way to demonstrative his combative skills.

It served him well when he left the Army, as his boxing reputation preceded him. Even though Anatoliy’s army career ended at the same time as the dissolution of the USSR and utter deconstruction of the Soviet army, he found himself with many offers.

Fortunately, he also possessed two degrees in electrical engineering and a degree in economics which laid a path for him to follow to economic and social success.

What is the true story of boxers?

The truth is that if you look at some of the more recent American boxers such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Mohammed Ali or Mike Tyson, you definitely see a pattern of the poor kid from the streets who turns to boxing as a way to make it out of the inner city and succeeds.

In fact, if you look across boxing history, there is a pattern of players coming from disenfranchised ethnic groups—Irish, Italian, African-American, and so forth. A kid growing up with money doesn’t need to risk his life in a boxing ring, hoping to make it out of poverty.

Further, not much money is required to take up boxing, unlike other sports which are expensive, requiring uniforms, equipment, coaches, fees, etc. To box one needs boxing gloves, workout clothes and access to a training facility. Essentially, one needs only determination and ingenuity.

Is boxing a way out of poverty?

Only a few rare individuals make it to the top of the boxing world. For those who succeed, the economic rewards are seemingly endless. Beyond the championship purse, there are endorsements which can reap additional millions. In an impoverished country, such as Nigeria, even a moderate purse can place you in an entirely different socio-economic status from where one began.  But to make simply a good living from boxing, one needs to fight, and win a match every couple of months. This schedule takes a heavy toll on the body, with no guarantee of breaking into the big leagues.

Anatoliy Pshegornitskiy take on Boxing

Anatoliy Pshegornitskiy would be one of the first to confirm that self-confidence is critical to being successful in life, no matter the direction you take. If he had not gained such a strong level of belief in himself, he might not have ventured out to start his own businesses, or to accept leadership positions with major corporations.

Anatoliy’s fiscal success did not come from boxing, but love of the sport has never left him and he still enjoys attending matches and watching the new crop of boxing professionals come up through the ranks.