Boxer or artist? The Olympic champion Vladimir Safronov of
Melbourne of 1956 where played the XVI Olympic Games, became a guiding star in destiny 22 - summer Vladimir Safronov.
Its achievement was unique in the history of domestic sport. Judge for yourself: to arrive to the Olympic Games the first-rank sportsman on boxing, and to return the Honoured Master of Sports, passing a step of the Master of Sports! Such case in the history of Russian boxing was not yet and, perhaps, any more will not be.
Vladimir Konstantinovich Safronov was born on December 29, 1934 in Irkutsk. But if to speak only about the sports biography of this person, the picture will be not full. Vladimir since the childhood was fond of drawing, and after the 7th class came to art school.
Vladimir began to practice boxing in the city the Uhlan - Ude, here Alexander Rinchinov and Vladimir Nikolaev were his first mentors on boxing. Subsequently boxing and drawing forever intertwined in Vladimir Safronov`s life.
The famous Soviet boxer and V. Safronov`s friend, the two-time champion of Europe in boxing Victor Ageev noted that after acquaintance to already famous then Olympic champion he ceased to perceive it as boxer. Stirred it very gentle, intelligent disposition and continuous talk on painting which could be heard even in a locker room before fight.
Beginners of boxing, happened, were surprised, observing as on sports collecting Vladimir spent all free time outdoors with a sketchbook. According to Ageev, boxing existed for Vladimir Safronov only as the annex to the artist`s profession. Though Safronov in one year prior to the death told: “I am not inclined to overestimate the achievements in graphics, here to me is still far up to those Olympic heights which I reached in sport“.
But we will return to the Olympic Games of 1956 in Melbourne. How it turned out what the young and little-known athlete got to an Olympic team of the USSR on boxing?
Progress in boxing career came to Vladimir gradually: at first a victory among young men in the championships of the city the Uhlan - Ede also Drill - the Mongolian republic, then a victory in the championship of the city of Irkutsk and at zone competitions of Siberia and the Far East. Victories in 1954 in the RSFSR championship and in 1955 on superiority of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions in semi-easy weight category became most noticeable.
After an appeal in the Soviet Army in which the young boxer served in Chita, and then in Moscow Vladimir acted as a part of the national team of CSKA and in 1956 won a victory on the Sports contest of the people of RSFSR. Then the trainer`s staff of USSR national boxing team paid attention on 21 - the summer boxer and decided to include it in structure of the preolympic collecting which took place in Tashkent.
The Honoured Master of Sports, semi-easily weight Alexander Zasukhin was an indisputable favourite of the Soviet national team on boxing then, the sparring - the partner of which on collecting was Vladimir Safronov. But the sudden trauma of Zasukhin (a finger fracture) forced trainer`s structure to look for to it replacement. A choice was made in favor of Safronov.
It should be noted that else in youthful years Volodya Safronov differed in good natural data which were strengthened by a technical arsenal subsequently: after prompt multishock series and a master stroke right through a hand, many rivals of the boxer appeared on a ring flooring. Here it is necessary to add tactical thinking, ability to flexibly reconstruct tactics during conducting fight, and, of course, it should be noted the persistence of the young boxer sometimes adjoining on fanaticism.
Vladimir Safronov arrived to the Olympic Games “dark horse“. The trainer`s structure did not lay special hopes on it in a gain of a gold award. But, contrary to expectations, in the first three fights Vladimir won convincing victories: at first over Italian Agostino Cossia, then over the Frenchman Andre de Sousa who was literally crumpled and suppressed by storm shock series of the Soviet boxer. The third fight with the long-armed Pole (besides - the lefthander) Heinrich Nedzvedsky was more difficult, but high rate of fight and continuous attacks from an average and near distance inclined a bowl of scales in favor of our athlete.
The British, the champion of Europe Thomas Nichols was a rival of Vladimir in the last, final fight of the Olympic Games. Nichols did not attach to this fight special significance and considered that a gold medal already practically in a pocket of the national team of Great Britain. Our boxer had other plans. On all fights of British Vladimir sat with a notebook and something is constant in it is mute sketched. It turned out that, doing sketches during fights, Vladimir studied tactics of the terrible rival, analyzed its strong and weaknesses. Which else of boxers famous to you possessed such thoughtful approach to fight?
At the beginning of fight Nichols imposed to Safronov the well-known manner, and the first round was lost by our boxer. In the second round fight drawing absolutely changed, Vladimir began to use policy strokes of the rival against him, and, it should be noted, the British became puzzled a little and even managed to visit a knock-down after the unexpected passed blow.
In the third round, understanding that fight can be lost, Thomas Nichols went “va - bank“ and offered our boxer so-called “cabin“. The Soviet boxer famous as the fan of dense and rigid fight, accepted a call with passion and eagerness therefore judges gave a victory to our Olympian with the score 3:2. So unexpectedly and triumphally performance at the Olympic Games little-known 22 - the summer boxer who became suddenly a legend of the Soviet boxing came to the end.
Having returned home, Vladimir Safronov continued study in studio of military artists of Grekov though boxing did not leave and managed to win in the championships of the USSR in 1958 and 1962. But to boxing classes after the Olympic Games it did not treat with such fanaticism any more as earlier. Further life of the famous boxer was devoted to art creativity, several years he worked as the art editor in Physical Culture and Sport publishing house and during this time got many friends in the sphere of art.
Unfortunately, as well as many creative natures, Vladimir of the life suffered in recent years from alcoholic dependence which led him to premature death. He died all three days before the 45 - the anniversaries.
Now it is difficult to assume that served as the reason of tragic end of human life which forever became history not only the Soviet, but also Russian boxing. His life was full of paradoxes: the personality intelligent in every respect - and at the same time passion to victories in such truly man`s sport as boxing. The will to win in sport - and defeat in fight with life after sport. Artist and boxer.
P. S. I think that the real sport as expression of beauty and power of human spirit borders in these concepts on true art. Art demands the same devotion and dedication, as well as sport, in it they are close and similar.
Perhaps therefore many outstanding people of the time combined science, poetry, literature, painting and boxing classes: Pythagoras, George Byron, Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexander Deyneka.