The Eastern bloc countries dominated the Warsaw 1953 European Boxing Championships where Drogosz, Chychla, Yengibaryan and Socikas were the stars29 May 2020
Poland’s capital Warsaw hosted the next European Boxing Championships in1953 which was the tenth edition of the event. The Eastern bloc countries dominated the event winning 8 out of the 10 gold medals in 1953 when the Soviet Union made its debut. Legendary boxers as Leszek Drogosz, Zygmunt Chychla, Vladimir Yengibaryan and Algirdas Socikas were gold medallists in Warsaw where the Polish team ranked as No.1.
The first competition day of the event was May 18 while the finals were held on May 24 in 1953. Two bronze medals were awarded to the losers of the semi-finalists as in 1951 and 10 champions have been crowned in Warsaw.
The number of the boxers was 117 in the Warsaw 1953 European Boxing Championships. The following 19 nations attended in the tenth edition of the European Boxing Championships in Poland: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, England, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Romania, Scotland, Soviet Union, Sweden, West Germany, and Yugoslavia.
Bulgaria, East Germany and the Soviet Union were the debuting nations and increased the number of medals of the Eastern bloc countries in Warsaw. Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Soviet Union and West Germany attended with maximum number of ten boxers in the 1953 European Boxing Championships.
Poland’s coaching staff led by legendary Feliks Stamm in the event and his pupils claimed five gold medals in the front of the home crowd. The debutant Soviet Union achieved eight medals including two titles and captured the runner-up place in the medal standings. West Germany, England and East Germany were the following nations which earned one gold medal in Warsaw.
Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Ireland had finalists in the event but their boxers achieved silver medals in 1953. Romania, Yugoslavia, Belgium, Finland, Italy and Sweden took bronze medals in the Warsaw edition. The French boxing team had several titles and successes in the previous nine editions but their hopes were not able to get any medals in 1953.
Poland’s Henryk Kukier won his first national title in 1953 and after that success he reached the top of the podium also at the European Boxing Championships. The 23-year-old Polish boxer defeated Czechoslovakia’s Frantisek Majdloch in the final of the flyweight (51kg). The host country’s second gold medal was earned by another 23-year-old talent Zenon Stefaniuk who won the next final over Soviet Union’s Boris Stepanov unanimously. The third Polish finalist Jozef Kruza also succeeded against a Soviet opponent Aleksandr Zasukhin at the featherweight (57kg).
Hungary’s Istvan Juhasz lost to Italy’s Bruno Visintin in the final of the lightweight (60kg) in 1951 and he advanced to the title bout two years later as well. The Hungarian had to meet in the final with Soviet Union’s Vladimir Yengibaryan who is one of the biggest boxing icons in Armenia. The 21-year-old Yengibaryan was one of the most decorated athletes in the ‘50s whose international career began in Warsaw with a gold medal while Juhasz achieved his second silver medal in the European Boxing Championships.
Leszek Drogosz was a 20-year-old talent from Kielce who had also an amazing boxing career which started in the 1953 European Boxing Championships. The Polish light welterweight (63.5kg) boxer eliminated Romania’s Francisc Ambrus in the semi-finals and he won the final unanimously over Ireland’s Belfast-based Terry Milligan. Leszek Drogosz passed away in 2012 and since then an international tournament holds every year to remember his greatness.
Poland’s biggest name in their 1953 squad was Zygmunt Chychla who won already the 1951 European Boxing Championships. He started boxing in 1939 but due to the World War II he could continue his developments only in 1946. He defeated four rivals in 1951 and has done the same in 1953 when he was slightly better than Soviet Union’s Sergey Shcherbakov in the final of the welterweight (67kg).
Hungary’s and the world’s boxing icon two-time European Champion Laszlo Papp celebrated his second Olympic title in 1952 and after that Games he was not well-prepared to the 1953 European Boxing Championships yet. Papp lost to Soviet Union’s Boris Tishin in the quarter-finals but the gold medal in that light middleweight (71kg) was taken by England’s Bruce Wells.
Sweden’s Stig Sjölin was the titleholder of the middleweight (75kg) but he lost in the semi-finals to West Germany’s Dieter Wemhöner. The tough Berlin-based boxer defeated Czechoslovakia’s Bedrich Koutny in the final and claimed his country’s lone gold medal in Warsaw. Dieter Wemhöner is 89-years-old in our present days and he is one of the oldest European Champions who is alive.
East Germany’s first ever European title was achieved by Ulrich Nitzschke at the light heavyweight (81kg) following his narrow success over Poland’s Tadeusz Grzelak. Algirdas Socikas represented the Soviet Union at the Warsaw 1953 European Boxing Championships who is one of the top Lithuanian legends in our sport. The Soviet, the Baltic and the Lithuanian Champion defeated Poland’s Bogdan Wegrzyniak in the last final of the event.
List of the winners in the 1953 European Boxing Championships
- Flyweight (51kg): Henryk Kukier, Poland
- Bantamweight (54kg): Zenon Stefaniuk, Poland
- Featherweight (57kg): Jozef Kruza, Poland
- Lightweight (60kg): Vladimir Yengibaryan, Soviet Union
- Light welterweight (63.5kg): Leszek Drogosz, Poland
- Welterweight (67kg): Zygmunt Chychla, Poland
- Light middleweight (71kg): Bruce Wells, England
- Middleweight (75kg): Dieter Wemhöner, West Germany
- Light heavyweight (81kg): Ulrich Nitzschke, East Germany
- Heavyweight (+81kg): Algirdas Socikas, Soviet Union