EXCLUSIVE ONE ON ONE INTERVIEW WITH OLGA
Interview and photos by Bob Marovitz
June 3, 2002
Zula Koutdoussova, 30, and Olga
Vlasova, 26, first met each other in the ring as opponents during the
Russian National Kickboxing Championships in 1994. Zula indicated it was a
close fight, but she took the decision. From that ring encounter, a bond
was formed. Zula and Olga came to the U.S. from Russia in 1994 to pursue
pro boxing after their successful amateur kickboxing backgrounds. In 2001,
Zula and Olga moved to Chicago to work with their coach/manager George
Hernandez at the Garfield Park Boxing Gym.
Hernandez has been working with former Olympian Michael Bennett and
Cruiserweight Jason Robinson. Featherweight Chris Kreuz has also joined
the Hernandez stable and works with Zula, Olga and two other female
boxers, Bose Ijaola and Nora Reyes. I had a chance to sit down and talk to
Zula and Olga about their career and women's boxing.
BM: Did Russian men approve of women's boxing?
ZK/OV: No. Men in Russia don't like women's boxing that much, however they
eagerly watch it when women are in the ring.
BM: How has George Hernandez help improve your skills as boxers?
OV: When we started training with him, he said we were moving around
too much like amateurs do. He taught us how to take control of the fight
from the beginning.
ZK: George showed us how to control the tempo of a fight from the
inside with jabs and uppercuts. He wants us to catch an opponent and never
BM: What is it like training together and being in each others
corners during fights?
OV: Zula knows what I can do and helps bring it out of me during
fights. George talks in the corner, but I listen for Zula during the
bout. I do the same for her when she fights.
ZK: We don't spar together anymore. Exchanges got a bit too heated in
the ring. George has us sparring with guys in the gym, so we get a lot of
styles to work with.
BM: What is your perspective on where women's boxing is today?
ZK: Promoters don't want to pay to get top female boxers in the ring,
so you are left getting sub-par fights that don't impress anyone or create
excitement for the sport. The best fighters should be showcased.
OV: I don't think promoters want to risk putting a top fighter in a
bout fearing that if they lose, their ranking goes down. The best matches
have to start being made if women's boxing is ever going to be watched by
the media and public.
ZK: Their are so many women getting into boxing that don't have the
physical ability or sports background. It is important for women who are
considering boxing to have background in other sports and martial arts to
build their strength and stamina.
BM: Would either of you sign to fight the other?
ZK/OV: No. How could we possibly train for a fight when we know each
others moves so well.
BM: What fights have you learned about yourself from?
ZK: The first Byrd fight. I got locked in a brawl and didn't pace
myself. She was younger and used different combinations against me.
I was too busy countering everything she hit me with.
OV: My last fight with Kanica Eley was uncomfortable for me because she
was shorter than me and also outweighed me.I was hitting her in the head
so much my hands hurt for two days after the fight!
BM: Has it been difficult for you to get fights?
ZK: It is hard to get fights with good opponents. Everyone knows me
because I have won many big fights. If you don't have a belt, the money
BM: Whom would each of you like to fight in the future?
OV: Chavelle Hallback. I have a fight in Miami on June 15, so maybe
that fight can be put together.
ZK: Lucia Ryker and Christy Martin are on my short list.
BM: Among current male or female boxers, whom do you respect the
most for their talent and skills?
ZK: Margaret Sideroff and Julio Cesar Chavez.
OV: Vasili Zirov
BM: In the 2004 Olympics in Greece, women's amateur wrestling
will be a sanctioned sport for the first time. Should women's boxing be
added as an Olympic sport?
OV: Sure, why discriminate against women when they show they can
ZK: I have never felt boxing is in the true Olympic spirit between
countries, but I would favor women getting their chance just as men have.
BM: What do you both do when you aren't training?
ZK: We love to cook. We go down to the lakefront in Chicago and
roller-blade, bike and run.
OV: We play basketball and outdoor volleyball with friends.
BM: Is their anything either of you would like to tell your fans?
ZK: Thank you for your love!
OV: Thanks for following my career.
Chris Kreuz was also in the gym on the day I interviewed Zula and
Olga. Chris is in great spirits and looks lean, trim and ready to
get back into the ring. But against whom? Chris was quick to respond,
"I hear Debra Nichols is coming back. I'd love a rematch against her!
Let's do it! I'm ready."
Bob Marovitz is a freelance writer and photographer residing in
Chicago. (This article is for the exclusive use of Womens Boxing Archive
Network. It may not be re-printed or right sold without consent
of the author). Bob Marovitz email@example.com