GENNADY GOLOVKIN ascended to the WBC’s middleweight crown on Thursday, once Canelo Alvarez vacated the title. Golovkin now adds that prize to the WBA and IBF world belts he has won in the ring. He is now unquestionably the dominant force in the middleweight division.
He has sold out arenas in America, his ‘Mexican style’ has won him fans in Canelo’s homeland but nowhere is Golovkin more loved than in his own country, Kazakhstan. On Wednesday I touched down in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, for the AIBA Women’s World championships and have already spotted plenty of Golovkin fans wearing ‘GGG’ caps. Boxing, as well as ice hockey, is one the most popular sports here. A football country this is not.
“Everybody knows him,” a local tells me, “everybody loves him.”
While the streets haven’t (yet) erupted into spontaneous demonstrations of joy, there is a clear sense of pride in their man’s achievements.
He is not the only fearsome fighter to come through the Kazakh Olympic programme but Golovkin may be the most famous and their most dominant professional prizefighter. I asked Bekzhan Bektenov, the executive director of the Kazakhstan Boxing Federation, what “GGG” means to his home country.
“First of all I would like to say that in the world of professional boxing I think Gennady Golovkin is among the top three and of course the results that Gennady Golovkin is showing at the world level, I think this demonstrates the strength and position of Kazakh boxing in the world arena. As you know Gennady Golovkin has gone to professional boxing from amateur boxing, you know his success at the Olympic Games and of course the results that he’s shown in the international arena, this demonstrates the strength of national boxing,” Bektenov said.
“Nowadays I think Gennady Golovkin is one of the most important ambassadors in the world arena for the republic of Kazakhstan.”