Considered by many as the best pound-for-pound Olympic boxer of his generation, Ukraine's Vasyl Lomachenko is the overwhelming favourite to take the Lightweight gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games this summer. Superb technique coupled with awesome power makes for a deadly combination and these attributes are what make the southpaw from Odessa such a tremendous boxer.
Two AIBA World Boxing Championships in two different weight categories, is the target now to make it two Olympic golds?
Yes, it certainly is. That is my main goal; it keeps me mentally focused and keeps me working harder and harder as we approach the summer.
Tell us about Baku, you came so close to elimination in the Round of 16 but then finished strongly. What was the most memorable fight?
The most memorable fight for me was the one against the Brazilian boxer Robson Conceicao. Throughout the bout I felt I was better, but the points seemed to all be going to my rival. I was devastated at the result but our appeal was successful and upheld. In retrospect it was a tough fight and my opponent fought well. It was a serious psychological ordeal for me. I was very grateful to my coaches and the other boxers in the squad for their moral support. Once the result had been overturned, I was even hungrier and there was nothing that could stop me. I wanted to show to everyone, most particularly to myself, that I was here to win.
You are now the overwhelming favourite for glory in London, how do you deal with that pressure?
I have to just keep on working, keep my head down and focus on the road ahead.
Still only 24 years old, you could break many records in your career, is it something you think about?
I have been taught that our problems should be solved they occur. Right now, my main task is preparation and a successful performance in London. After that, we'll just see what happens.
Tell us about your relationship with your father, who is always with you ringside.
We have a great, friendly relationship. He is my coach, my father, and my mentor. I love and respect him deeply. It is such a great feeling to know he is by your side every step of the way.
What drives you personally?
Success and victory. And also my father's praise, making him proud.
You have superstar status in your homeland, how does it feel?
Superstardom does not interest me. Fame does not interest me. I love boxing, I love my sport and I am happy that it is my life but fame is not for me. My focus is on training and winning, nothing else.
The Ukraine made history in Baku, with four gold medals and one silver. What is the target for London?
Right now, we have a very good team. I understand that it will be much harder to win in London as everyone will be gunning for us and we will not be able to surprise anyone. But we are strong and I am sure that by fighting our best we can achieve great things.
Tell us about your other team mates. Who impresses you the most?
As I said, right now we have a fantastic team. There is an atmosphere of friendship and mutual support within the squad. We look out for each other and support one another, not only during the bouts but in everyday life as well. To my mind, the unquestionable leader in our team is Alexander Usyk. He was chosen as team captain by the guys. He is a boxer with very good schooling and technique, a hard-worker and a good person to be around, he is also always in a joyful mood.
Why is the Ukraine such a successful boxing nation?
The Ukrainian boxing school has been known for a very long time, since the times of the USSR in fact. We have had several World and European champions, including Alexander Yagubin, Victor Savchenko and many other well-known European champions, World and Olympic Games gold medallists. We can also mention the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 and its champion Vladimir Klitchko. Today, we have a very creative team of boxers and coaches. The preparation program has been further developed and we are reaping the rewards of one of the most advanced centres of excellence.
Tell us about your training routine?
I spend long hours, working hard and pushing myself to the limits, this makes me a stronger and more focused boxer. I must continue to grow and this can only be achieved by a huge amount of hard work. Strength and conditioning is essential, I also continually look to improve on speed and technique.
You are in tremendous shape and pack so much power in your punches, what is your secret?
Again, that is simple; it all comes down to hard work and dedication
Do you have any special nutritional tips?
Actually, there is a secret power food in the Ukraine: lard.
Who are your boxing icons? Who inspires you?
I actually do not have any idols in boxing. However, I have always admired and enjoy watching the sport's great technicians, especially Mohammed Ali, Joe Louis, Floyd Patterson and Roy Jones Jr.
How did you take up boxing?
As you know, my father is a coach. When I was 6 years old, he brought me to the boxing hall, the rest is history.
Do you have any advice for the young men and women who hope to emulate your success?
The main advice I can give is to love what you do, work hard and never spare yourself.
What is your motto?
You might or might not be a Champion, but you must be a Fighter.
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