Yengibaryan and Pietrzykowski were double champions after the Prague 1957 European Boxing Championships

05 June 2020 News

Prague hosted the European Boxing Championships in 1957 at the very first time which followed the record-breaking West Berlin edition. The Soviet Union won the medal table in Prague where Vladimir Yengibaryan and Poland’s Zbigniew Pietrzykowski became two-time champions. Italy’s 19-year-old promising star Nino Benvenuti started his amazing gold medal series in Prague in 1957.

The first competition day of the event was May 25 while the finals were held on June 2 in 1957. After the first part of the quarter-finals a rest day was held on May 29 before the final phase of the 1957 European Boxing Championships.

Two rounds of preliminaries were held at the featherweight (57kg), at the lightweight (60kg), at the light welterweight (63.5kg) and at the light middleweight (71kg). Seventeen boxers attended in each of these four category in Prague making them the most popular weight classes in 1957.

The number of the boxers was slightly less than in 1955 but the 149 athletes was impressive in the Prague 1957 European Boxing Championships. The following 21 nations attended in the 1957 edition: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, England, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Scotland, Soviet Union, Switzerland, Turkey, Wales, West Germany and Yugoslavia.

The Welsh team competed in the opening edition of the European Boxing Championships in 1925 but after World War II their boxers attended first in 1957. Switzerland returned to the level of the European Boxing Championships after six years of break and three of their boxers advanced to the quarter-finals in Prague.

Mostly Eastern bloc countries, Czechoslovakia, Hungary Poland, Romania, the Soviet Union, West Germany and Yugoslavia attended with maximum number of ten boxers in the 1957 European Boxing Championships.

The Soviet Union won the medal table at the very first time, their three gold and three bronze medals let them fly to the top of the rankings. Poland and West Germany both claimed two gold medals in Prague while Italy, Romania and Bulgaria each earned one title in the 1957 European Boxing Championships.

Sixteen nations claimed at least one bronze medal as in 1955. Host Czechoslovakia earned three medals on home soil but Yugoslavia, Austria, Finland, East Germany, Scotland, France, Hungary, Ireland and Wales were also on the medal table. England claimed gold medals in the recent editions of the European Boxing Championships but their team was unable to get any podium places in Prague.

Edgar Basel of West Germany won the title of the flyweight (51kg) in 1955 and his teammate has done the same strong job in Prague two years later. Manfred Homberg had to meet in the final with Romania’s Mircea Dobrescu who claimed silver two years earlier. The Romanian boxer was quick in their final but Homberg used the perfect fighting distance to win his first European title.

Soviet Union’s first gold medal was achieved by 19-year-old Oleg Grigoryev who took up boxing in 1951 and only six years of experiences were enough to get the European title in Prague following his triumph over Italy’s Gianfranco Piovesani. Bulgaria made strong progress in the middle of the ‘50s and their first ever European Champion became Dimitar Velinov. He defeated another Italian boxer Mario Sitri in the final of the featherweight (57kg).

Poland’s new generation member Kazimierz Pazdzior was too strong for all of his opponents in Prague and won the lightweight (60kg) title while one of the future stars Dick McTaggart lost his quarter-final bout. Soviet Union’s 1953 European Champion Vladimir Yengibaryan achieved bronze in West Berlin two years later but he could return to the top of the podium in Prague following his success over Czechoslovakia’s Walter Ivanus.

West Germany was the best nation in 1955 and following their gold at the flyweight (51kg) in Prague, their second title was won by Manfred Grauss at the welterweight (67kg) who defeated Austria’s Leopold Potesil in the final. Italy’s National Champion Nino Benvenuti celebrated his 19th birthday just before the start of the 1957 European Boxing Championships where he triumphed over Poland’s Tadeusz Walasek and began his amazing journey.

A Polish boxer Zbigniew Pietrzykowski won the gold medal at the light middleweight (71kg) in 1955 but he moved up one category short after that success. The strong titleholder of the middleweight (75kg) Soviet Union’s Gennadiy Shatkov lost to Yugoslavia’s Dragoslav Jakovljevic in the quarter-finals. The Polish boxer had to meet in the final with the Yugoslav hope and won one of the tightest fights of the last competition day earning his second European title.

Romania’s Gheorghe Negrea earned silver medal in the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games and few months later he became European Champion. The 23-year-old Romanian opened his campaign against Yugoslavia’s Bosnian boxer Ahmet Bogunic and knocked his opponent out in the first round. That KO success increased his confidence and defeated all of his three remaining rivals taking the title of the light heavyweight (81kg).

Soviet Union’s Lithuanian boxer Algirdas Socikas won the 1953 and the 1955 European Boxing Championships at the heavyweight (+81kg) but he retired from the active sport in 1956. His replacement Andrey Abramov knocked out Finland’s Harry Mäkelä in the first round and defeated also East Germany’s Ulrich Nitzschke, Czechoslovakia’s Josef Nemec and Romania’s Vasile Mariutan.

List of the winners in the 1957 European Boxing Championships

  • Flyweight (51kg): Manfred Homberg, West Germany
  • Bantamweight (54kg): Oleg Grigoryev, Soviet Union
  • Featherweight (57kg): Dimitar Velinov, Bulgaria
  • Lightweight (60kg): Kazimierz Pazdzior, Poland
  • Light welterweight (63.5kg): Vladimir Yengibaryan, Soviet Union
  • Welterweight (67kg): Manfred Grauss, West Germany
  • Light middleweight (71kg): Nino Benvenuti, Italy
  • Middleweight (75kg): Zbigniew Pietrzykowski, Poland
  • Light heavyweight (81kg): Gheorghe Negrea, Romania
  • Heavyweight (+81kg): Andrey Abramov, Soviet Union
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