It was at the suggestion of a friend that Sergii Kovbar began boxing.
Initially, it was as a sparring partner while he was in the Ukraine at age 15.
But sport has been something that has always been a part of the light-heavyweight’s life.
Kovbar will be among the boxers who will be participating in this weekend’s Sugar Bert Boxing national qualifier at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center in Punta Gorda.
Assimilating to a new country has its own series of challenges, and Kovbar who speaks little English, found himself in a less than familiar environment, one replete with a series of new experiences and a language barrier adding to the difficulties he would face.
However, Kovbar’s intrepid spirit would serve him well and not just in the ring, as he’s been able to adjust to his new surroundings over the past eight months, pursuing his dream with a fervor that even the most ardent athletes would draw inspiration from.
The now 18-year-old boxer is trained by Lee Anderson at the Morgan Center in North Port. Kovbar works out five days a week, for six hours a day, training with less intensity on the weekends, but never taking a day off.
He spent Tuesday going over footwork and light technique, in preparation for Saturday’s bout. The fighter with the orthodox stance has a tremendous amount of heart and is heavy-handed in both hands, said Anderson. The trainer and fighter have been placing a great emphasis on defense, In addition to Kovbar’s footwork, slipping, countering, blocking, rolling and parrying are among the variables that are critical components in his war chest looking forward toward this weekend.
“He’s got the power; the footwork took a little bit of time, but he’s getting there,” said Anderson. “We’ve been going up to the Sarasota Boxing Club. They have some pretty good sparring. He’s sparred with guys in their late 20s and held his own.”
Kovbar possesses formidable knockout power, but Anderson has been able to refine his approach, working on his technique and teaching him that every punch that he lands doesn’t have to be a power shot, while developing his footwork as he evolves as a fighter.
“The main thing is the mindset,” said Anderson. “Up at the Sarasota Boxing Club everybody congregates around the ring, to just kind of mimic that pressure. But once you’re in the ring, you zone out. You’re not going to see anything.”
He runs between three and five miles a day, and works on his movement, coordination and balance by doing interval training with a jump rope.
Kovbar also has a background in power lifting which has proven to advantageous as he works toward his objective. And communicating in Ukranian also has its benefits for the fighter and trainer, as when Anderson yells out instructions to Kovbar, his opponent and their corner won’t know what he’s saying.
The Sugar Bert Boxing National Qualifier is open to the public. Doors open at 12 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. VIP admission is $25 per day and seating is in the first three rows of each ring. General admission is $15 and children 4-8 are $10 each day. Seats are on a space available basis. Corporate sponsorship tables are available for $1,000 and are located in the most prime viewing area in the venue where they will have the best seats and access to some of the behind-the-scenes-action. This package includes 10 VIP two-day guest passes, and custom title belt. Tickets may be purchased online through Eventbrite on the Sugar Bert Boxing Promotions Title Belt National Qualifier — Punta Gorda, FL June 7-9, 2019 page.