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From Russia With Glove - By Way Of Arapahoe
Evgeny Gradovich
August 19, 2011
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“It’s a big step for Evgeny to go from amateur to pro,” and to be undefeated, Laguardia says. He took Evgeny up to East Carolina University’s Human Performance Lab for a “battery of tests.” He was looking for bio-mechanical expertise to figure a way to have Evgeny go from 135 pounds to 126 (the limit for featherweights) and “still have strength.”

Strength training for the legs at the Village Club.
Twist and throw. Evgeny Gradovich with John Laguardia and, in foreground, Roland Pare.

One of the more curious-looking workouts took place on the Oriental Bridge, the one real incline in all of Pamlico County. It’s where Team Gradovich — there are t-shirts that say that — went for “resistance training.” For this, one end of a bungee-style cord was attatched to Evgeny and the other to LaGuardia who stood several feet back from him. As the Russian fighter tried to run, LaGuardia held back, providing many pounds of resistance. It came to be known as “the slingshot” (though John never did get catapulted through air.)

LaGuardia and Gradovich prepare for the “the slingshot” at the Oriental bridge.
With John LaGuardia providing resistance, Evgeny pulls him up the incline. In Oriental fashion, TownDock dog Jack gets caught up in the energy.

Many days this spring, Evgeny could be seen walking down Broad Street trailing his entourage — Turner, Laguardia and Tumbler Davis. They would walk to lunch, going from The Village Club to restaurants such as the M&Ms and the Village Food Emporium. Even at lunch, the trainers were in charge, ordering the meals.

Don also says that “eating habits” had to be changed. People, says Turner, “eat too much sugar. That’s no good for anybody.” Athletes especially. Don’s rule for Evgeny is “no white food after 6.” That means, he says, no white sugar, no white rice, no potatoes, no white noodles. Most of the time, Don Turner says, he cooked the meals. “I can cook anything.”

Don Turner and Evgeny Gradovich.

The training and re-adjusting seems to have worked – the undefeated record speaks for itself. According to his stats, 60% of the victories were knockouts.

Continuing that winning record, says John Laguardia, can elevate a boxer to the next level. With it comes more recognition as other fighters will want to a chance to challenge that record.

LaGuardia allows that boxing is a “brutal sport… the most primitive form of communication” but says that training the boxer in and among the other regulars at his gym, “has been exciting for me and the club.”

Evgeny Gradovich and the Team Gradovich at Village Health and Fitness in late June before he took off for a training camp in the cooler climes of Pennsylvania.

Evgeny’s fight is part of an undercard on “Friday Night Fights” on ESPN2 starting tonight at 9pm. There are 9 fights on the schedule. What time or if Evgeny’s fight will be among those televised is not yet clear.

After the fight, Evgeny says he looks forward to taking a month long trip to Russia to see his family and girlfriend. He’s been away for a year and a half, much of that time amid the cotton and corn fields of Arapahoe. What happens after he returns to the US may depends a lot on what happens in tonight’s fight.

Postscript: Evgeny Gradovich won his fight, defeating DaLuz by unanimous decision in the six round bout. Evgeny’s record is now 11 wins and 0 losses.

2013 Postscript: Evgeny Gradovich became the featherweight champion, defeating title holder Billy Dib of Australia.

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Posted Friday August 19, 2011 by Melinda Penkava


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