AGBU Magazine Cover for November 2009


While Armenia's national chess team holds the honor of World Olympiad Champion won in 2008, the republic also prides itself on the performances of three world champions in the less-cerebral "sweet science": boxing.

They all had their different ways to the top of professional boxing, living and training abroad and performing for other nations. But the three brightest Armenians fighting in professional rings abroad have never lost touch with their numerous fans at home.

Armenia's offspring Arthur Abraham(ian), Susi Kentikian and Vic Darchinian have been champions in their professional boxing divisions feared and respected by opponents and venerated by fans in Germany and Australia, their adopted homes. Needless to say, all have enjoyed tremendous popularity in their native homeland.

"King Arthur" Abraham, "Killer Queen" Kentikian and "Raging Bull" Darchinian have been united in their desire to promote Armenia abroad. And, like Team Armenia in chess that got together at Dresden, Germany, late last year to successfully defend their Olympic champions' title, these sportsmen have granted many delightful moments to fans who, as one, have celebrated their victories achieved in foreign rings.

For the past several years, boxing fans in Armenia spent a number of sleepless weekend nights (Saturday nights or early Sunday mornings when professional fights in boxing usually take place Yerevan time), keeping their fingers crossed that Abraham and Darchinian would end their fights with knockouts, sooner rather than later. And the Armenian thumpers have indeed delivered. And Kentikian, the queen of exported Armenian boxing, has also been revered as news came online or through the media about her dazzling performances. (Armenian television has yet to feature live action from her bouts).

Abraham (Avetik Abrahamian), who goes by the professional boxing alias of "King Arthur," has been unbeaten throughout his professional career. His current record in the International Boxing Federation (IBF) middleweight division stands at a staggering 30 victories, including 24 by knockout, and no defeats.

The 29-year-old with a shrewd smile and a handshake of iron is a native of Nerkin Charbakh, a Yerevan suburb. He moved to Germany early on to start his professional career in boxing.

He captured the vacant IBF Middleweight title in late 2005 and has not relented.

The menacing athlete's latest victim was a fellow German citizen of Turkish origin, who was beaten into submission with a series of powerful knockdowns in the 10th round of the scheduled 12-round bout in Germany in June.

That victory was Abraham's last in the middleweight division. Having run out of serious opponents, the Armenian gave up his belt, unrivaled and unbeaten, to move to a higher weight class and possibly new horizons.

But he said of that fight: "I had been in serious preparations for that fight because I couldn't afford to lose to a Turk."

Berlin-based Abraham holds German citizenship and performs under that nation's flag. But he says "the Armenian tricolor has a special place in my heart."

Abraham said he was bound by the terms of his contract with a German promotional company until 2011 and therefore could not afford to perform under the Armenian flag. "I cannot change anything until that term expires. Otherwise, I would be breaching my contract," he said.

But he added: "I've never liked to be the only owner of my victories. I've always dedicated them to my family and to my nation."

Abraham's next challenge will come in the United States in late autumn when he embarks on a two-year Showtime TV Super Six Boxing tournament that will bring together the three best American and three best European boxers in the 76.2-kg division to decide the ultimate best.

But before that, he managed to spend about two weeks in Armenia during the summer.

"When I am in Armenia, I sleep no more than five hours, because otherwise I would be having less time than I need to socialize with my friends and relatives. As a rule, I don't train when I am in Yerevan. When I get up in the morning, I reach for my favorite yoghurt, but in a few hours I always ask for my favorite fried potatoes. Then, I visit my relatives and friends. This time I had decided to be in Armenia for two weeks and spend it in a particular way. For example, every day I invited my friends to different places to eat out," said Abraham.

While in Yerevan at the end of July, Abraham also unveiled his plans to open an amateur boxing school for boys in Armenia in his native Nerkin Charbakh. He said the prefecture of Yerevan's Shengavit district had already allocated premises for the future school.

"I am doing this from the bottom of my heart because I want to see kids in my country having more opportunities to engage in boxing and generally in sports," said Abraham.

While visiting Yerevan, Abraham, still a bachelor, announced his desire to marry an Armenian girl from Armenia.

"I've got a lot of fans in Germany. If I wanted to marry a German girl, I would have done so a long time ago. But I've made up my mind to marry only an Armenian girl from Armenia, that's why I am not married yet," he said on his latest trip to Yerevan.

And speaking about a wife... Abraham said he wouldn't want his wife to be a fellow boxer—ruling out potential Armenian ring royalty should the "King" and "Queen" catch a spark.

"If a woman wants to engage in boxing, I don't see anything terrible about that; simply personally I would not want my wife to come home with bruised eyes and a broken nose," he said.

But if there is someone who could disagree with King Arthur, then that would be the Killer Queen.

Unlike Abraham, Susi Kentikian, 21, moved to Germany as a child, when she was only four. She has a vague memory of what life was in Armenia in the late Soviet period and early independence.

Like Abraham, she has enjoyed an unbeaten status in professional boxing.

Susi, nicknamed after the famous song by the legendary British rock band Queen, is based in Hamburg. She began boxing when she was 12. Following a successful amateur career, she turned professional and won her first world championship fight in February 2007. She is the current World Boxing Association (WBA) and Women's International Boxing Federation (WIBF) world flyweight champion. She has registered 25 victories in as many professional fights, ending 16 of them with a knockdown.

Kentikian is as nice and subtle in life as she is furious and brutal in the ring.

The beauty was also in Yerevan in late July to meet her fans at home and rediscover her homeland anew.

"After trying karate, judo, jujitsu, gymnastics and swimming for some time, I finally got to know and become fascinated by boxing. So I decided to devote my life to this sport," she said. "I've achieved whatever I wanted by fighting."

Kentikian said she regretted she couldn't defend Armenia's honor in the ring after recently becoming a German citizen. But she said she wanted to develop women's boxing in Armenia instead.

Susi says she wants to stay in boxing as long as possible but also would like to have all the usual things that girls dream of having.

"In everyday life I am an ordinary girl who likes to work in the kitchen, preparing stuff. I especially like cooking dolma," she says, adding, though, she doesn't have much time left outside sport for personal life. "I am fully devoted to sport now," she emphasizes.

But while King Arthur and Queen Susi have mostly had a smooth career, Armenia's oldest champ, Vic (Vakhtang) Darchinian, has had a hard time in his career.

The Vanadzor-born southpaw, who until recently lived in and performed for Australia, has been known for his attitude of knocking out his opponents. He did so on numerous occasions before suffering a shocking defeat at the hands of a U.S.-based underdog Filipino, Nonito Donair, losing his International Boxing Federation (IBF) and International Boxing Organization (IBO) flyweight titles in July 2007.

With the stubbornness typical of Loretsis, Vic, dubbed the Raging Bull, returned three months later and won the vacant IBO super flyweight title, stopping another Filipino veteran Federico Catubay.

After several successful fights, Darchinian completed something unique in professional boxing to become World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council (WBC) and IBF Undisputed Super Flyweight World Champion with a memorable victory over Cristian Mijares. Darchinian became the first man in history to unify the titles in the weight class.

The 33-year-old Darchinian moved up to bantamweight to fight IBF champion Joseph Agbeko from Ghana in July, losing that fight but retaining his lighter-weight titles.

Despite the recent ups and downs in his career, Darchinian continues to enjoy a tremendous popularity in Armenia. Like Abraham and Kentikian, he has also used his bouts to promote Armenia, and wears the tricolor on his waistband.

While on his recent trip to Armenia, Darchinian said he was determined to give more dazzling performances for Armenia.

The great achievements of the Armenian representatives in professional boxing abroad are rooted in the traditions of the sport in Armenia. Armenia already had several world, European and Olympic champions in amateur boxing in the Soviet times, and Armenians continue to perform successfully at the amateur level in independent Armenia.

In appreciation of Armenia's achievements in and contribution to international amateur boxing, the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) named Armenia host of the World Junior Championships last May. The organization of the event in Yerevan was hailed as a success by the AIBA.

Originally published in the November 2009 ​issue of AGBU Magazine. Archived content may appear distorted on your screen. end character

About the AGBU Magazine

AGBU Magazine is one of the most widely circulated English language Armenian magazines in the world, available in print and digital format. Each issue delivers insights and perspective on subjects and themes relating to the Armenian world, accompanied by original photography, exclusive high-profile interviews, fun facts and more.