Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Vasyl Lomachenko: 23 Surprisingly Cool Facts About The Ukrainian Boxer!

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Vasyl Lomachenko is one of the most lethal lightweights in the world right now. The Ukrainian native is the WBO and the WBA world lightweight champion, boasting a pro record of 14 wins and one loss. The Ukrainian professional boxer made his professional debut in 2013 and held the World Boxing Organization (WBO) featherweight title (2014-2015), the WBO junior lightweight title (2016-2017), the unified World Boxing Association (WBA) (Super), World Boxing Council (WBC), WBO and Ring magazine lightweight titles (2018-2020). 

Before turning pro in 2013, Vasyl had carved out a place for himself as one of the most successful amateur boxers of all time with a scarcely believable 396-1 win-loss record and he went to the Olympics! He earned himself the ‘Gold’ medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics (featherweight), the 2012 London Olympics (lightweight), the 2009 Milan World Championships (featherweight), the 2011 Baku World Championships (lightweight), the 2008 European championships (featherweight), and the 2006 Junior World Championships (flyweight). Today, he is represented by Egis Klimas. The pro boxer currently lives and trains in Oxnard, California, which he favours because it reminds him of the small town he grew up in. Seems like we’ve spilled all our juicy info right here, but keep scrolling down to find even more amazing facts about Vasyl Lomachenko! 

Vasyl Lomachenko: 23 Things You Probably Didn’t Know!

1. Family Tree:

  • Father – Anatoly Lomachenko (Former PE Teacher, Boxing Trainer)
  • Mother – Tetiana Lomachenko (Gymnastics Instructor)
  • Siblings – Anastasiia Lomachenko (Sister)

Vasyl Anatoliyovich Lomachenko (his full name) was born on February 17, 1988 in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union. 

Growing up, the young boxer was called Vasily or Vasiliy and he finished his education at South Ukrainian Pedagogical University. Although his father had always wanted him to become a boxer, he would also stress on Vasyl maintaining good grades in school as he felt that any sports person could excel only if he/she had undergone a complete cycle of overall development in his/her childhood.

2. He went to ballet, dance, ice hockey, gymnastics, football and MMA classes BEFORE boxing:

Vasyl Lomachenko’s father reportedly let him into the ring only after he attended ballet classes and took gymnastics lessons. If his father wasn’t a boxing coach, he probably would have been a professional ice hockey player, said the Bilhorod-Dinistrovskyi native. 

Suffice to say, his parents were both instrumental in his sporting vocation. His mother, Tetiana Lomachenko was a gymnastics instructor and his father, Anatoly Lomachenko was an ex-PE teacher and amateur boxing coach, who coached Vasyl from a very young age. Today, the 33 year old thanks his father for everything because his father did not let him train for boxing until he attended traditional Ukrainian dance classes, travelling the country with national dance troupes. 

The Ukrain born fighter then shifted to gymnastics before finally getting into the ring for the first time. Vasyl also played football, wrestling and the Russian mixed-martial arts of Sambo.

Vasyl also used to play soccer and hockey at school and compete in wrestling. He had revealed in an interview that if not for his father’s influence, he would have chosen to play ice hockey professionally. His father would also send him to learn traditional Ukrainian dances and train in gymnastics so that he could improve his footwork and upper body strength.

3. Born in Ukraine: 

The pound-for-pound Ukrainian fighter was born Vasyl Anatoliyovych Lomachenko on February 18, 1988 in the Black Sea port of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi in southwestern Ukraine. 

Did you know? Lomachenko says the 2,500-year-old town is mentioned in Greek mythology and has one of the largest fortresses in the region. This seems fitting today as Vasyl went on to become a sportsman with an impenetrable defence.

4. Awards and achievements:

Vasyl Lomachenko is the fastest professional boxer on earth to win three titles – featherweight, super-featherweight and lightweight 12 fights. 

When he won the WBO featherweight title in 2014, it was just his 3rd professional fight. This was a joint world record for winning a world title in the least number of professional fights.

The Ukrainian  fighter previously won silver at the 2007 World Championships, gold at the 2008 European Championships, two consecutive gold at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and two consecutive gold at the 2009 and 2011 World Championships.

5. His father didn’t let him fight until he was 9: 

He was just 3 days old when his father, a boxing coach, had put a pair of gloves in his hands. 

The now 33 year old doesn’t remember that but remembers how he first entered a boxing gym aged four but wasn’t allowed to have his first fight until nine-years-old. 

After his strict apprenticeship in dancing to traditional Ukrainian folk dances– his father finally taught him footwork first, punching after.

6. He once sold ice cream: 

Not just a sporting enthusiast, an extremely intelligent Vasyl graduated from the South Ukrainian Pedagogical University, and despite never needing a proper job, he did sell ice creams in the summer during his childhood – did they also function as ice packs to a young boxer? We will never know..

7. Nicknames:

When Lomachenko was a boy and his nickname was still ‘Loma’, his first foray into the sport was on a totally different kind of stage – one with music in the background! His father and future boxing coach Anatoly made sure Vasyl learned traditional Ukrainian dance lessons, as well as gymnastics, judo, and wrestling before he started boxing training.

Vasyl is also known as ‘High-Tech’ for his revolutionary new-age training drills – he can often be seen shadow boxing on a skateboard! Then, he was proudly given the name ‘NoMasChenko’ after forcing Cuban stylist Guillermo Rigondeaux to quit on his stool after the sixth round, the fourth opponent in a row forced to retire! ‘The Jackal’ only landed 15 punches during the 18 minutes of ring time. Vasyl’s other famous ring name is ‘The Matrix’, based on the Keanu Reeves apocalyptic science fiction trilogy, where he has the ability to see things before they happen.

The story goes that in the professional ranks, Lomachenko’s unpredictable footwork left his competitor punching air as if he was boxing in a different dimension. In fact, he had so much time in the ring on one occasion he taunted his opponent with a funny matador impression. Soon, a new moniker was born: ‘The Matrix’.

8. He has conquered British titles: 

The Ukrainian has several connections to the UK – In 2008, he bagged the European Championship in Liverpool, aged just 20; in the 2009 World Championships in Milan, he was victorious against Welshman Craig Evans with a wide score of 15-1 at the second series stage. 

Later he defeated British Lionheart Sam Maxwell in the World Series Boxing in Kiev in 2013, which completed a double over the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, having already beaten the London-born boxer at Bethnal Green’s York Hall prior to that. 

9. Vasyl Lomachenko’s height:

Vasyl Lomachenko’s height is 5’7″. Even though Vasyl is just an inch and a half shorter than the average lightweight fighter, the Ukrainian fighter uses a combination of excellent footwork and exceptional hand speed to control the distance and inflict heavy damage. He has deadly accuracy and is adept at slipping punches through an opponent’s guard. 

10. Style of fighting is all thanks to dance: 

Lomachenko’s footwork, in particular, enables him to dictate the pace and distance of his bouts extremely well. Especially against orthodox rivals, like Crolla, Lomachenko makes a concentrated effort to establish his front foot in a position just outside his rival’s lead foot. This helps provide Lomachenko a split second longer to read and counter his opponent’s incoming right hand. That split second is all Vasyl Lomachenko needs to throw off fighters and if allowed to establish the position, he becomes nearly impossible to beat. 

Perhaps those training sessions are the key to understanding Lomachenko’s prowess to glide round opponents in the ring with untouchable athleticism.

11. He belongs to Team Loma:

Vasyl Lomachenko is managed by Egis Klimas, who also manages Oleksandr Usyk, and promoted by Bob Arum. He chose Top Rank simply because “they offered the best deal for me”, according to his own words. He practices with fellow countryman Dmytro Mytrofanov (3-0-1), who is his personally preferred sparring partner and his cutman is Russ Anber.

The talented manager’s stable currently boasts an undisputed cruiserweight champion, triple-weight champion, two-time light-heavyweight world champion, and a combined record of 221-7-2 over 20 fighters.

12. Loma’s Hi-Tech Training: 

The new age boxing training techniques – conceived, orchestrated and monitored by his father, with help from a psychologist – is famously idiosyncratic. It comprises street skating and juggling, handstands and tennis, which Vasyl Lomachenko often plays solo, sprinting around the net to return his own lobs. 

Then he does marathons and 10K swims in open water. His practice in water 

includes holding his breath underwater and his father has openly admitted in interviews that he once held his breath for more than four minutes during his strenuous practice for the Olympics.

Meanwhile his sparring sessions consist of 15 four-minute rounds with 30 seconds of rest in between. Fresh sparring partners are allowed to enter in every three rounds, where the volume and speed of punches thrown are recorded and calibrated through computer chips placed within his hand wraps. The stats? Well, Vasyl has been known to throw up to 3,000 punches over 15-rounds of sparring.

13. Relationship:

Despite being a global superstar and having been seen in the public eye, Loma likes to keep his life private. 

Outside the boxing ring, he is a husband as he married his high-school love, Elena, and the two are living their dream life at this point. He is also a father of two as  Vasyl and his high school sweetheart Elena Lomachenko have 2 children together – a son named Anatoly Lomachenko (born November 17, 2011), and a daughter named Viktoriia Lomachenko (born August 26, 2012).

Both his sister and wife are keen gymnasts and acrobats. 

14. Hobbies:

Outside of the realm of boxing, he loves to fish and hunt. His father once taught him how to fish as well as hunt for pheasants.

He also likes to play hockey and basketball. But seeing as how he grew up studying many forms of sport and being a natural athlete, it’s tough to just limit his hobbies to hockey and baseball – we think he’d be a natural killer in any sport! 

15. Tattoos:

He has 2 tattoos on the left side of his torso including one that has the name and face of his father and trainer, Anatoly Lomachenko and he also has the ‘Olympics’ logo with the words ‘London 2012’ tattooed over his right bicep and a similar tattoo with the words ‘Beijing 2008’ on his left bicep. 

16. Vasyl Lomachenko often trains with heavyweight Oleksandr Usyk:

Fighters Loma and Usyk are managed by the same manager, Egos Klimas, and these two boys share a friendly relationship. Infact, the Ukrainian took some valuable advice from the cruiserweight best. While Usyk is also getting ready for a heavyweight challenge against Dereck Chisora, he might have had intense training alongside Vasyl Lomachenko.

17. Vasyl Lomachenko stats:

The accumulated record of his 13 opponents comprising forthcoming challenger Anthony Crolla stands at an impressive 411-31-16. He has stopped nine of his 13 ring rivals, only completing 115 of a scheduled 154 rounds, which makes it a 69% KO ratio.

The 33-year-old is 5 feet 7inches tall or 1.7metres, has a reach of 65 ½” or 166cm.

18. Featherweight king:

Prior to making a name in the lightweight section of boxing, Loma also had a successful stint in the featherweight division. Vasyl became the WBO International featherweight champion in 2013 and then bagged the WBO world featherweight title in 2014. Just 2 years after that, Vasyl Loma also became the WBO world super featherweight champion, before turning towards the lightweight division.

19. Lomachenko is made from his father’s lessons:

The Ukrainian lightweight champion’s father Anatoly Lomachenko is a renowned boxing trainer (and the ex-PE teacher) and has honed his son since childhood. That said, ‘Hi-tech’ Loma has frequently said that he gives all his achievements to his father.

The father-son duo has achieved world-level accomplishments throughout the years  – starting from his father insisting that Loma learned to dance back in the day. Before becoming a boxer, his dad got him into dancing classes to improve his footwork. There’s no denying that his father’s efforts are currently showing great results.

20. Lightweight titles:  

Vasyl Lomachenko began his lightweight title unification fight with Jose Pedraza looking every bit like a fighter making his return from a seven-month layoff and shoulder surgery. 

The Ukrainian ended it proving once again why he’s the pound-for-pound lightweight master! The fighter took his time before displaying why he’s considered the world’s best pure boxer in a unanimous decision victory against Jose Pedraza which saw him unify belts in the lightweight division. 

Vasyl was given the nod by all three judges (119-107, 117-109 and 117-109) after not being able to finish an opponent for the first time in four years. 

21. Who is Vasyl Lomachenko’s trainer?

Lomachenko’s trainer is his father, Anatoly Lomachenko. Anatoly was a former amateur boxer who started coaching Vasyl before he could even walk. While typically father-son duos and fight teams don’t yield the best results, Vasyl and Anatoly have cultivated boxing’s most impressive careers.

For example, using unorthodox coaching methods, Anatoly helped shape Vasyl into the elite, versatile fighter he is today. Even today, Anatoly has made his son focus on seemingly insignificant tasks meant to challenge him both physically and mentally. 

“If the work is hard, it’s never predictable.” ESPN’s Mark Kriegel penned down, “His father might have him kick a hacky sack 75 times before it hits the floor. It’s not just physical dexterity they’re after, but something cognitive.”

22. Vasyl Lomachenko’s record:

Vasyl Lomachenko’s record is 12-1 as a pro. However, Lomachenko is most known for a legendary amateur career that saw him win two Olympic gold medals across an incredible 396-1 run. One of the most decorated amateur and pro boxers in the sport’s history, the Ukrainian fighter was nearly granted a title shot in his first professional fight. Instead, Vasyl had to settle for dominating Jose Ramirez with a fourth-round TKO. 

After failing to win his next fight to Orlando Salido for the WBO featherweight belt, Lomachenko rebounded well and picked up a gritty majority decision victory over Gary Russell Jr. Since the Salido loss, the Ukrainian fighter has rattled off 11 consecutive wins, all either challenging for or defending a belt.  

Lomachenko picked up the two biggest wins of his career in matches against Jose Pedraza and Jorge Linares. The Linares fight, specifically, was an extremely strong showing as Lomachenko was able to drop the champ with a series of vicious body shots. 

23. Olympic career: 

A rare distinction, Vasyl has won 2 boxing ‘Gold’ medals at the Olympics. As of November 2020, Vasyl was one of just 12 boxers to have achieved the feat. The Ukrainian was nicknamed ‘Hi-Tech’ thanks to his electric hand speed and precision timing. With his stats of 396 wins and one loss – including two Olympic gold medals and two world titles – the athlete then became renowned as the greatest amateur boxer of all time.

Achieving his Olympic dream:

“When I was a kid, my dream was to win the Olympic Games,” the now 33-year-old said in a pre-fight hype video on Instagram. “It has always been my goal. I go to bed with my goal. I go to school with my goal. I go to train. The Olympic medal was always in my head.”

After taking home the 2006 Junior World Championships as a flyweight, it wasn’t long before Lomachenko’s dream became a reality… a double victory! 

The 1.70m (5-foot-7-inch) fighter was victorious during the featherweight Olympic gold medal at Beijing 2008, scoring 58 points and only conceding 13. The Bilhorod-Dinistrovskyi native also took home the Val Barker Trophy for the outstanding boxer of the tournament.

He took that momentum forward into 2009 to become victorious in the featherweight world title in Milan. When that weight division was ended by boxing’s governing body, Lomachenko transitioned seamlessly to the lightweight division and took out the 2011 world title in Baku to make himself a two-weight world champion.

In winning the lightweight title at the London 2012 Olympics, he guaranteed his legacy as one of the best amateurs ever to wrap up alongside Cuban legend Teofilo Stevenson and Hungary’s Lazlo Papp.

At the Olympics, the Bilhorod-Dinistrovskyi native, refused to do any interviews until he had won. This was the level of determination he had to not lose focus. His determination famously caused Hungarian Olympic gold medallist Istvan Kovacs to remark: “Thank God there was no Lomachenko in my division at the time, I never saw a fighter like him before.”

Joining the professional ranks:

The double Olympic champion decided to pursue the World Series of Boxing with the “Ukraine Otamans” team, where he amassed a record of 6-0 in 5-round bouts, scoring knockdowns on most of his opponents.

“After (winning the Olympics), my goal was to be the number one pound-for-pound boxer in the world,” the Bilhorod-Dinistrovskyi native continued.

Soon a shocking loss to Mexico’s Orlando Salido followed in his second bout served as a reminder that professional boxing was a harsher environment than he was used to in the amateur ring.

But in his next outing, Lomachenko rebounded to equal the record for winning a world title in the fewest fights, surpassing America’s Gary Russell Junior to seal the WBO featherweight title in just his third bout.

The European fighter has remained unbeaten since then, taking a 15-1 record into his unification clash with 23-year-old Teofimo Lopez. 

“I train very hard because I want to show my best skill every time, every fight. All my preparation is at 100%.”

“It’s not my job talking about who is the best. I don’t want to be famous, I just want to be the best at boxing. I must succeed by any means.” – Vasyl Lomachenko

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