Yurik Mamedov is a welterweight with an 11-1 record fighting out of New York City. Although he was born in Russia, Mamedov is an ethnic Yazidi, a religious minority based in Iraq. Because the Yazidis have resisted attempts to forcibly convert them to Islam, they are currently being brutally persecuted by Isis. Mamedov bills himself as the fighting pride of the Yazidis and wants desparately to build a successful ring career and then leverage that success to help the Yazidi people. Mamedov discussed his efforts with Boxingtalk's Justin Hackman and here is what he had to say:
Justin Hackman: Greetings, Yurik. Tell me a bit about your Yazidi (sometimes spelled Yezidi) heritage and the struggle your people are currently enduring.
Yurik Mamedov: The Yazidi people are a community with no country. We live in Armenia, Iraq, Turkey, Russia, Germany and of course the United States. My parents moved from Iraq, which is the main hub or holy land for the Yazidi, to Armenia which is where I grew up. Then I moved to the States in 2012. The Yazidi are not Muslim. So Isis pushes forces them all to convert against their will, or they will be killed. I have family friends that have been killed or become sex slaves. The daughter in this family has been kidnapped and we are unclear what has happened to her at this point. We don’t know where she is, or if she is alive or dead. That is my mission, to find her. It could’ve been my sister. And this is happening to countless families every day. The old ladies are killed, and the young women are taken and used as sex slaves. The Isis soldiers that kill the most Yazidis are given the sex slaves as a reward. It is very important for me to bring awareness of this genocide through boxing.
JH: What steps are you taking to bring awareness to this terrible situation?
YM: I’m trying to be motivation for the kids who have nothing – to show them that just because you are Yazidi, and people are against you, you can still do something with your life. I send clothing to Iraq, Syria and Greece. In becoming a professional boxer, they view me as a sort of idol. So it is a special thing for them to receive gifts, even something as simple as a t-shirt. I am also speaking at schools, at boxing gyms, in order to motivate kids and be their support.
JH: You’ve been living in New York since 2012. Do you enjoy it?
YM: The thing about New York is it gave me the opportunity to do what I’m doing today. No matter who you are, you will have the opportunity to succeed with hard work. I am lucky to be in New York City. But the fact that I am one of the lucky ones, I still remain sad inside because I am so emotionally invested in the pain and suffering of my Yazidi people; their struggle is my motivation. Every bit of suffering over there drives me crazy. I am trying to help in every way I can. I fight for more than personal glory. I can climb a mountain but what happens when I’m the only one celebrating at the top? I desire to help people along the way so we can all celebrate together.
JH: Tell me a bit about your professional boxing career to this point.
YM: I turned professional at the end of 2015. I am just staying busy all the time, getting as many fights as I can. I had a fight just two weeks ago in Atlantic City, and now we’re looking at fighting again in May or June.
JH: You have one blemish on your record, a split decision loss to Marcus Beckford in December of 2017. Was bouncing back from this your biggest challenge so far?
YM: Bouncing back was not so much a challenge, but more a learning experience. I believe I won. We got robbed in his hometown. That pushed me even more because in my mind, I was winning it easy. The mistake I made was to not push as hard as I could’ve late in the fight. I took it easy in the final few rounds. That was a big mistake on my part. I have learned that lesson and I will not do it again. In my mind though, there wasn’t even a second I felt I was losing—just a bad night..
JH: What are you motivated to achieve in 2019 and beyond?
YM: The only reason I’m in boxing is to be a world champion. When I’m a world champion, I will have a bigger voice for the people that need me. It’s more about just boxing for me. If it wasn’t for what the Yazidi people are going through, I wouldn’t be as passionate about boxing. Later this year I’d like to be ranked high enough to challenge for a title; I’d like to fight someone significant.
JH: Who do you like in the Terence Crawford - Amir Khan fight?
YM: Crawford is number one pound-for-pound in my view. Khan is a GREAT four-round fighter. He can beat anyone in a four-round fight. If he can do to Crawford what he did to Canelo Alvarez for the first few rounds, he can win this fight. But we all know the problem for Khan is the chin. Crawford’s ability to shift styles, and box with variety is what I believe will get Crawford the late-round knockout. The timing and adjustments, once he’s got you, you’re done. Crawford will take him out.
JH: Thoughts in closing, Yurik?
YM: Right now I’m considered the fighting pride of the Yazidi people and that means everything to me. Boxing is my platform to bring awareness. The pain and suffering of the Yazidi people is all the motivation I need. I want to become a world champion, not only because I love boxing, but because I am passionate about bringing attention to the Yazidi people on the highest level. Anyone who doesn’t know about the Yazidi, I want them to Google it, and understand what we’re going through.
Boxingtalk encourages all our readers to learn about Yurik’s people who are facing genocide in Iraq as you read this. To learn more about the Yazidi people, visit: http://www.yeziditruth.org/
To donate to the Free Yezidi Foundation, visit their site: https://www.freeyezidi.org/
Send questions and comments to: BoxingtalkJ82@yahoo.com