Why Beast from the East could be out for the count
Sunday 05 February 2006
When hulking Nikolai Valuev won the title last December, President Vladimir Putin congratulated him and held up the boxer as a hero. But Valuev, at 7ft 2in the tallest ever world champion, is now mired in allegations that threaten to damage his carefully-crafted image.
The 32-year-old heavyweight has been accused of beating up a 61-year-old parking attendant, and murky reports have started to emerge of his moving in criminal circles in the "wild" 1990s. It is not the kind of PR that Valuev, who recently mused aloud about possibly taking on British boxers Danny Williams or Matt Skelton, needs.
Indeed, the champion's minders have tried to ensure that he does not come across like Ivan Drago, the machine-like Russian boxer played by Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV. Instead, Valuev is known as a man who reads Leo Tolstoy and Agatha Christie, and who is more gentle giant than Soviet-style killing machine. Much has been made of his family credentials: he penned poetry to woo his diminutive wife Galina and is devoted to their three-year-old son Grisha.
But Yuri Sergeev, the parking attendant, claims he was savagely beaten by the boxer for an imaginary slight upon Galina. Valuev counters that Mr Sergeev was rude about his wife's parking, and that he swore at her, making her cry. He claims he stepped in to defend her honour.
While admitting he grabbed Mr Sergeev by the collar, Valuev denies beating up an older man nearly half his size. "There was a lot of black ice in that parking lot," he told a news conference. "What can I say? He slipped and fell. If I were to have hit him, the consequences for this man would have been far more serious."
Mr Sergeev was treated for concussion, bruises to his face, and scratches. The police are investigating but have so far not pressed charges.
To compound Valuev's discomfort the Russian media have also started to expose details about his somewhat shady past in St Petersburg during the 1990s. Valuev's representatives have acknowledged that he was used to intimidate people in disputes between rival businesses and gangs. In police files he was known as The Sledgehammer".
Valuev was never charged, and there is no suggestion that he used his 24 stone to beat people up, but his golden boy image has been tarnished. The boxer's management claims the parking attendant and other ill-wishers are trying to extort money from him and that Valuev is being attacked by people jealous of his phenomenal success.
- 1 As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
- 2 The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
- 3 Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
- 4 New Zealand 'the best country to work as a prostitute', says sex worker advocacy group
- 5 Irish people are travelling home from all over the world so they can vote to legalise gay marriage
JK Rowling horrified by Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis's raunchy photoshoot
Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
The biggest ranch in America, larger than the whole of London, has gone on sale for $725m
Melissa McCarthy's brilliant response to one sexist question posed to her on the red carpet by a male reporter
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Labour leadership: Battle lines are drawn as members battle over party's ideology at first hustings of the contest
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...