Biyarslanov Aiming to Make History in the Olympics
By: Ed Hitchins
When Canadian Olympian Arthur Biyarslanov first took up boxing, he never thought of a gold medal. He thought of ways to get out of it.
“I really sucked,” recalls the 21-year-old. “I don’t like doing something I’m not good at.
“I was the worst one of all the guys there,” Biyarslanov says.
“I hated going back to the gym. Sometimes I would pretend I was asleep because I didn’t want to go. My brother boxed too. He would eventually catch onto my little tricks.”
Biyarslanov, born in Chechnya during the war with Russia in the mid ‘90s and emigrated immigrated to Canada from Azerbaijan when he was 10, would eventually start winning.
After the 2012 London games, he set his sights firmly on 2016.
“I felt that, my whole life I’ve been a fighter,” he says. “I have the fight in me. So I started to take boxing seriously. I just kept going and winning tournaments and got more motivated. So, I set a goal for myself for 2016.”
Biyarslanov, who has dreams of becoming a cop, put his degree in psychology on hold. Training 30 hours in the gym at a week, he simply doesn’t have time to study.
He also found a new trainer. Chris Johnson, who won a bronze medal at the 1992 Olympic games. Johnson feels Biyarslanov’s dedication to his craft is what will carry him into Rio.
“It seems like I’ve training him for 10 years,” says Johnson, who has been Biyarslanov’s trainer for the past six months. “He’s more confident and powerful. He hits the target.”
“This kid has all the attributes,” Johnson says. “He has power, speed and smart. He’s a wolf, he’s going to tear the opponent apart when he’s in the ring.”
Biyarslanov, who goes by the nickname ‘Chechen Wolf’ in honour of his roots, is aware of Canada’s drought in boxing. There hasn’t been a Canadian medalist in boxing since David Defiabagon in 1996. A Canadian hasn’t won a gold medal since Lennox Lewis took it in Seoul in 1988.
Having won Pan Am Gold in Toronto last summer and ending a 50-year drought at that competition, Biyarslanov would like to do the same at the Olympics.
“It would be awesome. It’s been a really long time,” he says. “Being in Canada, if I wasn’t here I would have never taken up boxing. I would have never had the opportunity to go to school.
“I want to work as hard as I can and return to Canada with the gold medal,” Biyarslanov says.