Stefaniuk, Drogosz and Socikas defended their titles in the West Berlin 1955 European Boxing Championships

02 June 2020 News

Berlin was divided into two parts and the West part hosted the next European Boxing Championships in 1955 which was the eleventh official edition. Poland’s duo Zenon Stefaniuk and Leszek Drogosz, furthermore Soviet Union’s Algirdas Socikas defended their thrones in 1955.

The first competition day of the event was May 27 while the finals were held on June 5 in 1955. The rest day was introduced in the 1955 European Boxing Championships which was held between the semi-finals and finals.

The 1955 edition of the European Boxing Championships was the first continental event when preliminaries were held in two rounds, boxers at the featherweight (57kg) and light welterweight (63.5kg) had to box for the last 16 in West Berlin.

The number of the boxers was an incredible record with 153 athletes in the West Berlin 1955 European Boxing Championships. The following 23 nations attended in the 1955 European Boxing Championships in West Berlin: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, East Germany, Egypt, England, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Saarland, Scotland, Soviet Union, Sweden, Turkey, West Germany and Yugoslavia.

Egypt is a North African country but their participation was approved by the European officials therefore their boxers could attend at the West Berlin 1955 European Boxing Championships.  Luxembourg and Saarland made their international debuts at the 1951 European Boxing Championships in Milan and both nations returned in the 1955 edition after four years of break.

France, Poland Romania, Soviet Union, and West Germany attended with maximum number of ten boxers in the 1955 European Boxing Championships. West Germany topped the medal table with three gold, one silver and three bronze medals in 1955. Poland became runner-up with three titles while the Soviet Union was the third in West Berlin.

England amazed in the finals and won two of the weight classes which was a wonderful return from the boxing power. Altogether sixteen nations shared the medals and besides to the four countries which achieved gold in West Berlin, East Germany, France, Romania, Egypt, Hungary, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Yugoslavia, Belgium, Denmark and Italy were also bagged podium places.

Poland’s Henryk Kukier won the first title in 1953 and he advanced to the semi-finals in 1955 but lost to eventual winner Edgar Basel of West Germany. They met each other in 1952 first which bout was won also by the Olympic Games silver medallist German boxer. The 25-year-old Basel defeated Romania’s Mircea Dobrescu in the first final of the 1955 European Boxing Championships.

Zenon Stefaniuk (POL)

Poland’s Zenon Stefaniuk defeated Soviet Union’s Boris Stepanov unanimously in the final of the 1953 European Boxing Championships and he repeated that performance on their re-match in 1955. Following Stefeniuk’s second European title, Tommy Nicholls of England delighted the event winning the gold medal of the featherweight (57kg) in West Berlin. The 24-year-old English boxer defeated Finland’s Olympic Games winner Pentti Hämäläinen and Soviet Union’s Aleksandr Zasukhin.

West Germany’s second title was achieved by Harry Kurschat who triumphed over Egypt’s lone finalist Darweesh Mustafa at the lightweight (60kg). Soviet Union’s defending European Champion Vladimir Yengibaryan moved up one category but he had to meet in the semi-finals with Poland’s icon Leszek Drogosz. The Polish boxer eliminated the Armenian star and defeated also Hungary’s Pal Budai in the final taking his second European title after 1953.

England’s second finalist Nicky Gargano amazed at the welterweight (67kg) which category was dominated by Poland in that era. The Italian-descent English boxer defeated Yugoslavia’s Pavle Sovljanski and France’s Hippolyte Annex in the final stages. In the absence of Hungary’s three-time Olympic Champion Laszlo Papp, an experienced Polish boxer Zbigniew Pietrzykowski won the gold medal at the light middleweight (71kg).

Sweden’s team captain Stig Sjölin won the gold medal in 1951, claimed bronze in 1953 and advanced to the final of the middleweight (75kg) in 1955. The Swedish boxer was in top form in West Berlin but Soviet Union’s Gennadiy Shatkov was able to defeat the defending champion Dieter Wemhöner and also Sjölin. West Germany’s 23-year-old Olympian Erich Schöppner claimed the host nation’s third gold medal in the event.

Soviet Union’s Kaunas-based Algirdas Socikas won the Warsaw 1953 European Boxing Championships and arrived to West Berlin following his fifth national title. The Lithuanian heavyweight (+81kg) boxer controlled all of his four bouts in West Berlin including his final against West Germany’s Horst Witterstein. He was Lithuania’s boxing icon and their National Federation hosts the Algirdas Socikas Tournament in Kaunas every year.

List of the winners in the 1955 European Boxing Championships

  • Flyweight (51kg): Edgar Basel, West Germany
  • Bantamweight (54kg): Zenon Stefaniuk, Poland
  • Featherweight (57kg): Tommy Nicholls, England
  • Lightweight (60kg): Harry Kurschat, West Germany
  • Light welterweight (63.5kg): Leszek Drogosz, Poland
  • Welterweight (67kg): Nicky Gargano, England
  • Light middleweight (71kg): Zbigniew Pietrzykowski, Poland
  • Middleweight (75kg): Gennadiy Shatkov, Soviet Union
  • Light heavyweight (81kg): Erich Schöppner, West Germany
  • Heavyweight (+81kg): Algirdas Socikas, Soviet Union
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