Markku is well known in the Finnish boxing scene, as he has been working with various fighters as a manager in the legendary Steel Ring. We are very fortunate to announce this name as the boxing referee in the upcoming chessboxing event.
How long have you practiced boxing and what brought you to it?
I begun boxing when I was twelve in my home town Kuopio. Before boxing I had played football. My father was a boxer in the national team and my 93-year old mother loves boxing. I basically came to boxing via breastfeeding.
As a boxing referee, what is the main challenge and required ability?
A boxing referee faces various of challenges, but the most important ability is to react. You need to be bold and fast in your decisions.
How on earth did you end up as the boxing referee in the fight night?
My son Matteus was nominated as the referee of the year by the Finnish boxing association. He told me that chessboxing World Champion Sakari Lähderinne, who I had managed as a professional boxer, had been asking around for a boxing referee. I was very excited when I received the news that I was nominated as the boxing referee in a chessboxing event.
How well are you familiar with chess?
Pretty well. I have played against my father, my mother and friends since I was a child. These days I play with my son-in-law and in the internet. But I don’t have the capacity for a grandmaster. I don’t have the patience to learn and repeat the patterns. I start every game from scratch. Hence, I always lose against wiser and more experienced chess players.
What do you think of chess and boxing in the same combination sport?
I only have positive expectations. I love both sports and they have been close to me throughout my journey. If they are welded together as sports, I am just smiling with satisfaction.
What do you think of the current state of boxing in Finland?
In olympic boxing we have bronze medalist Mira Potkonen and she has been followed by many young women and men, making it to the international level. In professional boxing everyone knows Robert Helenius and Edis Tatli, and they are too followed by strong young boxers. The situation is more than satisfactory, given the large variety of sports available. But we can not rest on our laurels. Boxing is a tough sport, internationally event more so, especially when it gets to the fights in the media and over the available funding.
What are your expectations for boxing level in the forthcoming event?
It will definitely be very high. I know the strong punchers Sakari and Alex, they are top sportsmen. Any weak boxer should not step into the ring against them!
Do you want to add something?
Of course I hope that the forthcoming event would be successful and that I can perform well and fairly. And of course I hope too that there will be a lot of audience in the venue and behind the streaming screens at home. We do this thing for the audience. Let’s get ready to rumble!
Interviewed by Tero Weckroth
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