RIGA - For some, boxing is a brutal, mindless sport that should be banned. For others, pugilism is seen as the art of one-to-one combat, that's as much about brain as it is brawn. The Baltic states don't have much of a tradition of boxing (street fights being excluded), so Baltic Storm Top Riga 2004 will probably prove extremely popular with the region's many would be prize fighters.
The Professional Boxing Federation of Latvia is organizing the boxing/kickboxing tournament in collaboration with the Baltic League of Martial Arts, which will be held at Kipsala Hal, Riga, on Sept.25.
The tournament will consist of two main contests: first, for the title of Latvian champion in professional boxing and second, for the title of the Baltic League of Martial Arts' professional kickboxing champion.
In the boxing contest there will be four rating bouts held according to the rules of the European Boxing Union: each bout will consist of four 3'sminute rounds, with a 1-minute break between each round. Fighters from Latvia, Estonia and Germany will be taking part.
Two Latvians will compete in the first rating bout (weight division 91 kilograms) 's Alexander Borhov and Denis Melnik. The second bout in the same weight category will be between Latvian Edgars Kalnars and Estonian Valerij Semiskur, while the third will be between Aleksey Kosobokov (Latvia) and Sergey Voron (Estonia). Last up will be Kristine Kopane (Latvia) and Cornelia Zimmer (Germany), in a rare chance to see a bout of female boxing. Normally such contests are confined to certain nightclubs in the suburbs of Riga.
The kickboxing contest will be held in accordance with low kick rules: seven 2'sminute rounds with a 1-minute break between each. Andrej Kizinevic, the Lithuanian Thai kickboxing champion, will fight Denis Aleksandrov, three-times champion in amateur kickboxing and twice champion in professional kickboxing in Latvia.
And in a final, Rocky-like twist to events, Romans Dabolins, the Latvian boxing champion in the 79.3-kilogram-weight division, will fight Elvis Mihailenko, the EBU champion in the same division.
Vladimir Ivanov, who is one of the chief organizers of Baltic Storm, says he hopes the tournament will help develop boxing in Latvia and encourage others to get involved. "The Baltic Storm tournament is a very important event for Latvian boxing. Our goal is to develop boxing and kickboxing in our country, and I want to assure everyone that we have a lot to see," he said.