PRESS RELEASE: Nikolai Valuev is one of those, who made their dreams come true. In December 2005 he won the heavyweight world championship as the first heavyweight from Russia and the first being promoted by Sauerland. Moreover he is the tallest boxing champion with his 7 ft and 150 kg of weight. On the 3rd of June Valuev will defend his title for the first time.
boxen.com: Did anything change since you had become the world champion?
Valuev: Well quite a lot has changed. It was my dream to get the title and as a result my popularity grew in Russia and abroad. I have a lot more to do with the press compared to the past and journalists from UK, the USA, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Norway and Italy, just to name a few, are requesting interviews photos or simply information about myself. Especially in connection with my two home countries Russia and Germany I feel a high responsibility concerning my behaviour and statements. For the Russians I am the very first heavyweight world champion and I feel they are discussing it. They are proud on my achievements and I want to keep them like that.
boxen.com: If you think of your everyday life, is it still possible to walk in peace through St. Petersburg?
Valuev: To tell the truth, no. I was already quite popular the time before but since I have won the title it is more than hard to describe. If I walk a minute in the city centre the people start coming to me with their congratulations, wanting to take pictures and getting autographs. Simply going shopping with my wife Galina – that is nearly impossible.
boxen.com: You always mention that your second home after Russia is Germany. Half of the year you live in Berlin, but you never decided to finally move to Germany. What does St. Petersburg and Russia mean to you?
Valuev: Both mean everything to me. I was born and raised in St. Petersburg. I have got all of my familiar roots here and that is the place my son was born. That is something no one can or ever will take from me. In addition I love the inhabitants; they are something special.
Valuev: They are friendly and open-minded. I recognise them everywhere I go even if I am thousands of miles away from home. It is hard to explain but maybe comparable to a huge family. You can see it in connection to our history, especially beginning with the time of Czar Peter the first. In contrast to most of Russia, St. Petersburg is influenced by the West since these times.
Therefore, mentalities were mixed up. The results are easy to see in the historical, cultural and urban development. That is why the people living here are something very special.
boxen.com: Some sportsmen like Arnold Schwarzenegger started a second carrier by becoming actors or politics. Could you imagine this?
Valuev: No, I don’t think so. But I already acted in some films and I enjoyed it. I respect those turning into a serious actor or politician. In Russia we are familiar with it because Minister Vjatscheslav Fetissow played hockey and president Putin is a former judoka..
boxen.com: Your bout against Ruiz earned lots of critics concerning your performance. What do you think about them?
Valuev: I know it wasn’t a very good bout. While boxing against Ruiz I had to come along with his way of fighting. I do listen to my critics and think about a possible way to improve my performance for the next time. For sure I should have used my right one more often. In the last weeks, I trained very hard and am ready to show the world a good bout against Owen Beck in Hannover on June 3.
boxen.com: How are you prepared for the bout?
Valuev: After my meniscus operation, and due to the postponed bout, I had a long time to prepare myself. I started to train with Coach Manuel Gabrielian in St. Petersburg and since April, I am back in the gym in Berlin combined with an intensive two weeks training camp in Kienbaum.
boxen.com: Do you know Owen Beck and the way he is boxing?
Valuev: We analysed him with some videos from his past bouts. He is a good and uncomfortable challenger, but, nevertheless, I am optimistic I will win.
boxen.com: Do you have a strategy?
Valuev: I am sure you understand that this is a secret. Probably I can tell you afterwards.
boxen.com: What do you think of the development that the East started to dominate the world championships? If we take the champions together, that is to say yourself, Wladimir Klitschko and Sergei Liakhovich, it would appear Eastern bloc fighters have taken over the heavyweight division.
Valuev: I think the boxers from the east of Europe have just started. In the future the US will have to accept that our broad sportive education and performance with their fully-fledged coaches are more than an advantage.
boxen.com: Lots of fans are thirsting after a bout between Wladimir Klitschko and Nikolai Valuev. Would you agree, if there is an offer?
Valuev: Yes, I would fight against everyone, but first of all that is a manager’s decision. A bout like this would for sure be more than an usual challenge because Klitschko is nearly as tall as I am and it is interesting to finally see how we come along with each other inside the ring and who is really the better one.
boxen.com: We know that you are not keen on hearing your nickname. The official one for the bout is “The Russian Giant”. “The Beast from the East” was your first one, in England they called you “The Power Tower” and Don King called you “King Kong”. What do you think about these namings?
Valuev: I still think that my parents gave me the name Nikolai. I am still Nikolai Valuev and everything to do with my nickname is quite childish. To call me “King Kong” has more to do with publicity than with good boxing. I am now fighting in Germany and if I go to the US to have a bout, I will not care what they will call me. I want to fight. I want to win.
boxen.com: Thank you very much. We wish you all the best.