Wladimir, I’m 5’11, around 190 pounds, and have a 70-inch reach. How many seconds do you think I’d last in the ring with you before they had to call the paramedics?
Ha, ha, ha. First of all, I’d never fight you. If you are not a professional athlete in this sport it would be the same thing as a train rolling forward toward you and you trying to stop it. You obviously don’t have a chance. But I wish for you that this will never happen in your life.
Thanks I hope so too. Growing up in the Soviet Union, did you get a chance to watch the Rocky movies?
I got a chance to watch the Rocky movies. They were very inspiring and motivational even for people not into sports. In life we always have ups and downs, life is like a rollercoaster and sometimes throws you for twists. We need to enjoy the ride and when you are down like in Rocky, you have to get up and fight back. I think all of us, and Mike you are not an exception, go through such experiences in life and the Rocky movies definitely provide motivation.
Even the score on its own really gets my blood pumping …
When I hear the song “Eye of the Tiger” I can’t help but think of moments from the film, and I get goose bumps when I hear it. You just want to get up and do something.
I chose boxing accidentally. I never thought I’m going to do it professionally. I was definitely repeating the things that my older brother did. I was following in his footsteps. On the other hand I thought that I would love to get out of the country. I grew up in the Soviet Union so we had no chance to get over the border unless we were politicians or athletes. Otherwise we were stuck in the country with no way out. I wanted to explore the world and see what was beyond the Iron Curtain.
Sticking with movies, in the MMA film Warrior, two brothers end up facing each other in the octagon in the climax. While Venus playing Serena in a Wimbledon final is one thing, explain why in fight sports a sibling slug-off is an unrealistic prospect?
The sport of boxing is a pretty tough business. It is about conquering or eliminating the person that is standing in front of you and its pretty much one wish: to win the fight by knockout. I don’t want to see my brother go down in a fight against me, and probably my brother would share the same feelings about me with him. If that would happen and my mother knew, it would definitely break her heart. We don’t want to hurt her and that’s why we will never fight each other. There’s not even a discussion about it.
A lot of growth in life comes from our losses. How did your three defeats in the ring turn you into the indomitable fighter you are today?
Without those three losses I would never have become a complete fighter. It changed my attitude in life. It’s all about becoming a more mature person and you cannot buy life experience in a shop. You have to gain it, unfortunately sometimes through negative experiences, but you can turn those into positives if you learned your lesson.
A couple weeks back on Conan you said you’ve had some success with the pickup-line, “Are your parents terrorists … because you look like the bomb?” Do you really use lines, don’t the ladies simply swarm you?
Well no, no, no. Sometimes I get let down. Ladies are not that simple to get in contact with, sometimes it’s simple and other times you are actually hearing ‘no’ so it’s not always yes. Sometimes a woman finds it really silly and other times you get slapped on the cheek.
[I can’t think of one on the spot] but it has to be creative and it has to be fun as well because if there is no humour, you are definitely going to get a “no” and lose.
How often do people try to start fights with you?
I don’t know why, but especially females do. They laugh and they hit me. Of course, I have enough body to hit, but they box me like I’m a heavy bag. I remember I met a former space girl in London. I had never met her before but I recognized her and she recognized me and she jumped on me and was hitting me like 1, 2 all over my shoulders and stomach. She was laughing and having fun but it hurt. I couldn’t really show her that it hurt so I laughed back and said ‘OK, OK, give me a break.’
I don’t know why but people when they see me, all the time they really hit me, and I think that they think I don’t feel pain.
Wait up a second Wladimir, I’m not sure if I heard you right, she was an astronaut?
No, no ... Victoria Beckham … the former group, four or five girls. I’m sorry, not space girl but Spice Girl.
The pound-for-pound best in the world title that many magazines put out to equalize all the weight classes seems to me the boxing equivalent of best albums of all-time so it’s very subjective. What’s your definition?
There’s a lot of politics involved. It’s like legacy. Do I care about legacy? It would be wrong if I said no, but as an active athlete legacy is something fans can give you or not give you. I don’t want to give it to myself. I enjoy my time to be in sports and if critics decide that pound-for-pound first place or fifth place, that’s their business. I don’t want to get involved in it. It doesn’t make any difference whether I’m second place or 10th place, except of course if I was in first place because then for my ego it’d be nice, but otherwise I don’t really worry about it.