When German heavyweight great Axel Schulz stepped into a Las Vegas ring to challenge the legendary George Foreman for the World Heavyweight Championship in 1995, Hanna Hansen was just ten years of age and had barely any interest in the sport of boxing.
”Well, my dad used to watch the big fights. So I knew about the Tyson’s, the Holyfield’s, and of course about Axel and Henry Maske. I even watched the occasional fight with my family,“ Hansen said with a smile on her face. ”But I wasn’t really a boxing fan, no.“
Fast forward to 2021, 26 years after Schulz lost a scandalous decision to Foreman. Hansen is now a professional boxer herself, having just won her second pro fight two weeks ago – and Axel Schulz, the former star, might just be her biggest fans: ”Hanna is such a great person,“ Schulz said.
“I first met her around 18 years ago, when I judged a modeling contest she participated in. She was friendly, open minded, and you just felt that she is the kind of person who has the courage and discipline to fight for her goals.“ Schulz provided the German color commentary for Hansen’s pro debut in June – and was impressed by what he saw.
”She has great reach, she has a feel for her opponent. She’s a natural, she has a lot to offer when she steps into the ring and with Maurice Weber and his team in her corner, I think she has the right people around her to further develop her skillset and to take it to the next level. Of course, she’s not perfect yet, but I don’t see any flaws that cannot be worked out.“
Schulz strongly believes that the partnership with Weber, a former world-level boxer himself, will bring out the best in Hansen: ”I like Maurice. He’s a done a good job with Felix Sturm recently. I think Hanna and Maurice look eye-to-eye, and frankly, I think that’s what she needs. I don’t think she needs one of those classic trainer-dictators, she needs someone she can communicate with. She knows what she has to do and I think Maurice is the perfect fit for her. She definitely has the potential to archive her dreams and to become world champion, I have no doubt about that.
Hanna has the passion, the will, the guts to make it to the top. Her mindset is that of a champion, and that’s almost as important as physical talents.“
When asked about Hansen’s age, she turned 37 in June, Schulz was reminiscent of his own former opponent: ”Well, for once, she has experience in fighting sports. She’s been a kickboxing champion. So, in regards to age, I can only say two words: George Foreman.“ With a big laugh, Schulz added: ”She can be the female version of George Foreman. But in all seriousness, with age comes experience and experience can help you so much, especially in training. You just know your body and your limits better, you know what and how to do it, how to avoid unnecessary injuries and to be in great shape come fight night.“
Schulz is not the only German boxing luminary who holds Hansen in high regard. World-renowned trainer Ulli Wegner, who guided countless fighters to world title honors, took a moment to talk to Hansen after her second pro fight and was full of praise for the light middleweight prospect. ”Ulli came up to me and congratulated me on my performance,“ she recalls.
”Then he went on telling me that he sees a lot of potential in me and thinks that I am very talented. He basically told me that the sky is the limit for me. Of course, hearing that from a legend like Ulli, I was just so proud after I talked to him. That really meant a lot to me. Listening to him and, of course, to what Axel had said about me, it just makes me realize how far I have come and how far I can still go. I know that I need to take it step-by-step, but I know it in my heart that I will become world champion one day.“
Her promoter Ismail Özen-Otto, head of Universum Box-Promotion, who signed Hansen to a three fight contract in anticipation of her debut, is just as delighted by her development as Schulz and Wegner: ”Hanna is really talented. I was really happy with her performance in her first two fights. We will continue to step her competition up fight-by-fight and I do believe she can archive her dreams.“
Hanna Hansen’s third professional fight is tentatively scheduled for October, once again at the famous Universum Gym in Hamburg, Germany. The fight will be over eight two-minute rounds.