Coronavirus crisis: 'Everyone is touched by it' - Sauerland

Luke G. Williams
14/03/2020 8:50pm

Photo: James Chance/Getty Images

In the first of a series of BM articles examining the effect of the Coronavirus crisis on boxing, promoter Kalle Sauerland speaks to Luke G. Williams on the day the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight final was postponed...

With the Coronavirus pandemic in full flight, these are serious and troubling times.

No aspect, it seems, of human existence is being left untouched by the worldwide crisis, and the sport of boxing is no exception.

The great Hugh McIlvanney once termed sporting pursuits "our magnificent triviality", and to some it may seem perverse to consider the effect of a pandemic on sporting competition, but the carnage being wrought on the worldwide sporting calendar could have far-reaching human and economic effects.

It's a topic that leading promoter Kalle Sauerland addressed head on today in conversation with Boxing Monthly.

"How do I see [coronavirus] affecting us?" the 42-year-old World Boxing Super Series chief boxing officer pondered. "Well, I see it affecting every single person in the sport, from a kid who's starting out to retired pros to active pros, to trainers, managers, promoters, gym owners - you name it. It covers the full eco-system of boxing, everyone is touched by it. And it's just beginning."

"I think it's a time to keep calm and assess but it is affecting everyone. Today we had to postpone the World Boxing Super Series cruiserwight final [between Mairis Briedis and Yuniel Dorticos, which was scheduled for21 March in Riga, Latvia], Team Sauerland has also cancelled shows up to May and I expect a lot of other promoters are going through the same thing at the moment.

"It's going to hit the boxing industry in a big way over the next  months,. Let's just hope that the damage isn't long-lasting and we can get this industry back on track because we will be going through absolute turmoil in the next couple of months. Let's hope that we can weather the storm as a sport because professional boxing at least is a private sport - it's not funded by the government, we get no help from the government. The big families in boxing need to support everything at the moment and we need to make sure we're doing our best to get in back on track as soon as we can."

Turning his attention to the constant social media chatter, speculation and debate concerning how to combat the virus, Sauerland had some strong and sensible words.

"It's not our place to comment really or give advice because anyone who does that [from boxing] is stepping out of their pay grade. As boxing promoters if you want to be kind you can call us boxing experts, but we're certainly not experts on anything to do with the Coronavirus.

"We can simply go on what we are being told. Everyone's got an opinion but at the end of the day our opinions mean nothing and shouldn't be put in a public place. We shouldn't use our positions in the public arena to give our opinions. Our opinions are a private matter and I don't think its a good thing to come out with an opinion on something like this, which could be misleading.

"We should be listening to the true experts, not the bloggers, or online experts, or the sudden overnight doctors and professors. We should be listening to the people who have been preparing for a lifetime for something like this in terms of their studies and qualifications. Those are the people we should be listening to. The true experts."