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Rising welterweight prospect and current Australian welterweight champion
Victor Chernous is being expertly guided by trainer Ivan Rukavina, who took
charge of training duties after Chernous’ only loss in his pro career.
Croatian born Rukavina has been a long time Australian citizen who represented Australia as an amateur and had his professional career cut short due to injury. Playing the part of mentor as well as trainer, Rukavina is hoping to take his charge all the way to a world title within the next few years. Rukavina currently has no other fighters under his guidance because he wants to concentrate solely on working with Chernous and their goal of capturing a world title.
Cornerman had the chance to catch up with with Ivan and he had the following things to say.
Cornerman: Thanks for taking the time to chat with Cornerman Ivan. How are
IR: Yeah not a problem. I’m doing good.
Cornerman: Ivan, tell us a little about your fight career.
IR: Well, I started as a middleweight when I was amateur and fought for a little while as middleweight but most of amateurs as a light heavyweight. I won the gold medal at the kings cup tournament in Thailand. I was supposed to go to the Olympics in 1988 to represent Australia, but I broke my left knuckle a month before the Olympics. After my knuckle healed up I turned pro in 1989.
Cornerman: How many amateur fights did you have?
IR: I had 151 amateur fights and I won 125 of them.
Cornerman: That’s a great amateur career.
IR: Yeah thanks. I was upset I couldn’t go to Olympics because I think I was going to do very well.
Cornerman: How many pro fights did you have and your record?
IR: I had only 19 pro fights and I won 15 of them. I fought a guy called Magdeleno for a world title elimination and I lost that fight. He fought the German Henry Maske in a world title fight in Germany and was winning that but lost on cuts. I retired early in my pro career because I had injury to my shoulder. I made come back in 2000 and I had three more fights but I broke my wrist in a car accident and then I hang up the gloves.
Cornerman: Currently, you are training Australian welterweight champion, Victor Chernous. How did you come to team up with Victor?
IR: I met Victor through some of my friends when he was representing Ukraine as an amateur and he came to Australia. Victor is a very good kid. His background is from a poor family and he stays at my place and I just want to help him out.
Cornerman: How many amateur fights did Victor have?
IR: He had about 170 amateur fights and he was very successful amateur. He lost in world championships to Cuban fighters who won the gold medal so he was a very good amateur fighter and he knows a lot of boxers from the Ukraine when he trained with them in the national teams.
Cornerman: Have you been with Victor through all his pro fights?
IR: Yes but only working in the corner at first and I was not there when he lost his fourth pro fight and after that I take over as being his trainer because he was training by himself. I have been his trainer for seven fights and we have had seven wins. He is training full time now twice a day and we have improved a lot.
Cornerman: What are your plans for Victor at the moment?
IR: Well we want to have few more fights in Australia, maybe seven or eight more fights in Australia, a few more title defence and then maybe a commonwealth title fight and hopefully we keep winning and I will take him to America.
Cornerman: Any names in Australia that you would like to face?
IR: No, we don’t care. Anyone who comes up we will fight.
Cornerman: Do you have any contacts with promoters or fighters in America to help Victor land a fight there when you get the opportunity?
IR: Yeah well I am good friends with actor Mickey Rourke and also Lamon Brewster, who was ex heavyweight world champion. So I know his people and also I lived in America for nine years and I still have some good friends and contacts with people who know some of the promoters in America, so when the time comes I am sure that there will be no problem to get Victor some fights over there. So everything I do I do for Victor. I just want the best for him.
Cornerman: How often do you train with Victor and where do you guys do your training?
IR: We train mostly at Kingsgrove gym but we going to go to gym at Oatley. We travel around because Victor needs good sparring so we go to different gyms to get different sparring.
Cornerman: Can you name some of the guys Victor has been sparring with and how he’s been going?
IR: Yeah we sparring guys like Ryan Waters, who is going to be fighting Mundine next week and Kurt Bahram and Garth Wood and other guys but he’s always getting good sparring to help for his improvement and a lot of the guys who he’s sparring with like to work with him.
Cornerman: Victor looked very good in his last fight for the Australian title. What parts of his game are you mainly working on to improve?
IR: Well he needs to improve on doing more jabs and also his skills like slipping punches and ducking and weaving punches. Also we are working on using more body attack. I need him to attack more to the body because he is going to fight a lot of taller guys at this weight and he needs to work the body, you know because you kill the body and the head will die.
Cornerman: Very true. Is Victor an Australian citizen or permanent resident?
IR: No he’s only here on a sports visa but we have applied for permanent residency and we are working on it and I believe he will get it and if not then we will extend the sport visa.
Cornerman: What’s next for Victor? Do you have any fights palnned?
IR: Yeah we looking to get a fight on September 28 or 29 in Kempsey on a Billy Hussein program. He’s going to fight a fighter from Wollongong to defend his state junior middleweight title and then in November on Foxtel on Grange Old school program and then on 3rd January he might fight an Englishman when Australia fights England fighters. We don’t know opponent yet for that one but the matchmakers called me and asked me if we were interested and I will agree as long as we have the right opponent. I want to make sure that we get the right fights at the right time and I want to make sure that he is properly prepared for all his fights. I want Victor to do well and I am going to make sure that I look after him.
Cornerman: Well Ivan, thanks again for your time and best of luck with all your future fights.
IR: No problem. Thank you.
Note: Ivan was a true gentleman and Cornerman wish Ivan and Victor well on their quest for a world title.
Interview by Elyas Khaliqi
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