Unified heavyweight champion Artur Petriev and heavyweight Arslanbek Makhmudov were in for a nasty surprise when they hit the gym at the Claude Robillard Center at the start of the week. They learned that they had to find another place to improve their physical condition as soon as possible.
The Montreal Sports Council (CSM) has determined that Montreal’s premium gymnasium can only be used by high-level amateur athletes developing in all disciplines.
It was CSM athlete and director of team services, Frédérik Laberge, who made this decision. He gave the athletes and their physical coach, Andrzej Kozliza, a week’s notice.
Kulesza and Laberge spoke briefly, but there was no way they could reach an agreement to allow Beterbiev and Makhmudov to continue preparing for their next fight.
“Laberge has not loved us for a long time. He is jealous of our successes, and this is frankly confirmed by Andrei Koleza. Overnight, he told us that we could no longer come and train in this gym.
“It’s personal. It’s a political decision. It’s discrimination.”
What goes wrong is the short deadline given to the two boxers to change their plans.
“We wanted to get a few weeks to get around, but that [Laberge] Kulesza said. We do not understand the reasons behind this decision.
“Artur and Arslanbek have always been model clients who paid everything they had for access to the gym.”
Upon his arrival in January, Laberge confirmed that he had nothing against boxers. He wants his gym to regain the profession for which it was founded.
“We really want to dedicate our limited resources to the athletes who train after school or in the evening,” he explained. We want to put our energies on it.
“According to my reading, Tarbiyev and Makhmudov do not end up on the street. There is another gym in Center Claude-Robillard and they can go to the club associated with Marc Ramsay’s boxing club. They are better equipped than we are. There are other options as well.”
Why were Petrebiev and Makhmudov so comfortable in this small gymnasium? The reason is simple.
They found their roots in the amateur ranks while training with the Russian national team. They can practice away from prying eyes.
In addition to weights and dumbbells, they had access to athletics platforms to run or work on their stability in the long jump pit. This kind of place is rare in Quebec.
Why did Laberge choose to announce his decision this week and not another? For both boxers, this is the worst possible moment.
Makhmudov in the midst of training camp for his fight July 1 in Toledo, Ohio. Whoever will be in his first fight in the United States should make a good impression on people of higher rank, but also in front of the ESPN cameras.
The same for Peterbiev, who began his preparation for the mandatory defense of his WBC belt against England’s Callum Smith. This duel can occur during the summer season.
“We need a gym and fast! On the other hand, it is not easy to meet our needs because we have specific schedules, specific Kulesza.
“When we’re there, the gym must be almost empty because we’re doing specific exercises. We need weights and machines. We can’t wait in line.”
Artur Petrebiev and Arslanbek Makhmudov deserve to be able to train in the best conditions. It’s the least of things for two of the world’s elite boxers who represent Quebec on the international stage.
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