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Uzbek Story of American Boxer

Do you know who first founded a Boxing school in Uzbekistan? Sidney Jackson - this name is associated not only with the history of Uzbek boxing, but also with the whole athletic field of our country.

The amazing journey of two Americans to Russian Empire ended with a long emigration to the mysterious country of the East.

This story has begun with a simple curiosity. Sidney Jackson was born in the late XIX century in a small Jewish family in New York City. He lost his father very early, at the age of 6. His father, Louis Jackson, who worked for many years in a chemical factory, died of tuberculosis soon after. His mother, having lost her only breadwinner, went to work in a garment factory and lived from hand to mouth. Young Sid and his brothers had to combine school with work on the street. One day, his classmate brought a sport magazine to school with strong, tough boxers on its pages. Ever since, Jackson knew what he wanted to be.

By 1914, he was a young professional athlete of the U.S. National team and traveled all over the world. Once, he decided to go to Russia with his boxer friend Frank Gill, as he stated: “to see the bears walking down the streets”. The Americans did not see the bears and went to St. Petersburg, and then to Moscow. At the same time, after check-in at the hotel, from the newspapers they red that the World War I had begun. The roads were blocked. So they had to stay in Russia. However, it was not safe to stay in Russia at that time, and they were advised temporarily to move to the capital of Turkestan – Tashkent.

From Tashkent they sent telegrams to their homeland asking them to send money for the trip back, but only his friend Gill received the money transfer. Realizing that he would not allow himself even a cheap hotel, he addressed to the Governor-General of Tashkent to find a job here. But at that time, few people knew about boxing in Central Asia, so Sidney got a job as a tailor. A hard-working and experienced athlete with his energy and physical training needed more serious work than patching and sewing buttons to suits.

After the end of the Civil war in Russia, where Sidney participated as a volunteer, he returned to Tashkent and went to work as a sport instructor, and then got a job in a sport club in the building of the former Romanov house, where various clubs were organized for pioneers. He began to teach children boxing here.

Sidney made sport equipment for classes with his own hands from improvised materials. He made a makeshift ring from the old ship’s tarpaulin, hemmed three pairs of old gloves, and sewed several new pairs of leather and horsehair from a local slaughterhouse. The trainer made punching bags from the canvas bags here as well. This is how the story of the first boxing club in Tashkent, organized by an American athlete, began with a small adventure.

In addition to boxing, the energetic and full of strength coach began to teach his wards athletics, swimming and even football. In 1921, a miracle happened. When Jackson was preparing the pupils for the local Olympics, the US Ambassador arrived in Tashkent with documents to go back to the United States. But Sidney Jackson expressed his refusal in the following words: "A few years ago, I would have given anything to go home, but now everything has changed. It's a great honor to be a U.S. citizen, but it's an even greater honor to stay here and serve this country. Look at those eyes that believe in you and are full of hope. You can give everything for this!»

Sidney Jackson remained the head Boxing coach of the Uzbek SSR for many years, and in 1957 even received the title of honored  National coach, having brought up more than a dozen national champions.

Many students and wards of Sidney Jackson later received good and prestigious awards, and some even academic degrees, but they called themselves “jacksonites” and believed that they acquired a lifetime of training in the “school of grandad Sid”.

Ten years after the death of Sidney Jackson in 1978, world boxing legend Muhammad Ali arrived to Tashkent on a one-day visit. Whether he knew that here, in Tashkent, for half a century before his entry into the world ring, the champions of his native American school had been already forged, is unknown…

But as you know, in a good school, knowledge is passed from generation to generation. And today, the Uzbek athletes on boxing day-to-day delight us with their achievements.

During the Olympic games in Rio-de-Janeiro, the Uzbek Boxing team for the first time broke all records for the number of medals (three “gold”, two “silver” and two “bronze”), leaving behind France, Cuba, Kazakhstan and Russia.

Among others, our boxer Khasanboy Dusmatov won the Val Barker Cup, which is awarded to the most technical boxer at the end of the Olympics. Khasanboy became the first boxer from Uzbekistan to be awarded this prestigious trophy.

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