Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

King of the Ring Kindelan Aims to Clip Khan's Wings

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

King of the Ring Kindelan Aims to Clip Khan's Wings

Article excerpt


THE boxer in the blue vest was not arrogant but he clearly had confidence in his own abilities. He had movement, he had balance and his fists flicked like a snake's tongue, stinging the cheeks of an opponent who never saw the punches coming until it was too late.

Amir Khan? The British teenage sensation who is already confirmed as the brightest prospect to emerge from the Games here?

Sorry to disappoint you but we're talking about the Cuban referred to officially as Mario Cesar Kindelan Mesa but regarded, unofficially, as the world's best amateur boxer at any weight.

If Khan wins his own semi-final to earn a final showdown with Kindelan, the 17-year-old will discover that all the hype and hysteria surrounding his stunning performances over the past fortnight will not help him one jot when he is left alone with a man in the opposite corner whose boxing curriculum vitae is as long as his muscular arm.

Cuba's boxing team captain has won more than 330 amateur bouts and acknowledges just 22 defeats.

And he is an international veteran, last year alone winning prestigious senior titles in Bulgaria, Germany and the Czech Republic.

Impressed? There's more. Coming to Athens he was the only boxer to hold all three of the elite championships: those of the Olympics, the world and the Pan-American Games.

Kindelan, a southpaw, represents all that amateur boxing at the highest level stands for. "It is well-suited to the Cuban character," says Alcides Sagarra, the inspiration behind the island's proud history of Olympic success.

"We are brave, resolute, selfless. We have strong convictions and clear definition. We are pugnacious and we like to fight."

Khan has already discovered, to his cost, just how pugnacious Kindelan can be. The king of the ring and the pretender to his crown duelled in a pre-Olympic tournament at Peristeri.

Ominously for the weekend ahead, Kindelan cruised to a decisive win.

Khan, Britain's only boxing representative here, graciously admitted: "It was only when I faced him inside the ring that I realised what he's capable of.

"He's fast on his feet, has quick hands and knows every trick in the book. …

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