The tortured past that fuels Gennady Golovkin

The late 1980s and early 1990s in the Soviet Union were a disruptive time for its inhabitants. War, turmoil, and the evident collapse of The Union were looming across Northern Europe. Just a boy, Gennady Golovkin had already started to become one of the world’s greatest boxers.

While just a young boy in only Kindergarten, Gennady’s older brothers would instigate fights with him and other boys, often strangers in a crowd. They were older, bigger, wiser, and headed into the military. Gennady looked up to them in a way that only a young boy could. His twin brother was no different; fighting and learning the art of being fearless.

At eight years old, he was pushed by his these same brothers, Sergey and Vadim, to start boxing. Gennady and his twin brother Max did as they were told, learning the art of boxing by watching fights from America on television. Gennady was already taking notes from Sugar Ray Leonard, Muhamad Ali, Mike Tyson, and other American greats. He wasn’t just a kid who liked to throw punches, he was an immediate student.

“I remember my time in Kazakhstan and it was a little bit difficult because the Soviet Union was broken. My older brothers said to me ‘G, let’s go to a boxing club’. It was a difficult time, in the street, in school, so I said ‘OK’.”

Gennady Golovkin

The very next year Vadim was killed in military action. A body was never recovered and no explanation was ever given by the Soviet Union Government. He was just suddenly gone forever. The loving memories of his brother were all that remained among a grief stricken family; enveloped in tears, anchored by empty sadness.

As if it weren’t enough, Sergey died in similar vein only a few years later. Again no body was recovered or explanation given about his death. It was the way things worked then – secretive was no surprise and death was hardly an accident. His family was once again beyond distraught, devastated with the unexplained loss of another son and brother. Just a boy, Gennady and his family trudged on with memories of a once unified family fueled his desire.

He watched Kazakhstan become a nation around him. Satellite nations broke away from the pack, becoming their own independent countries.  His fearlessness might have come from his older brothers, but his independence came from a deep sense of pride.

Coming up through the amateur ranks both Gennady and twin brother Max were equally as good. Gennady has been quoted saying his brother was better. But when it came time to who got chosen for the Olympic games in 2004, Max told Gennady to go because he was “15 minutes older.” Gennady would not let his family down.


As an amateur, Golovkin was 345-5. He has yet to lose his first professional fight. He’s 33-0 as a pro and currently boasts the highest knockout percentage in Middleweight championship history with 89.8% rate. He is a brutal and powerful puncher who forces opponents into costly mistakes and then takes advantage.

Losing two brothers for anyone is a complete travesty. Losing the two brothers that launched your career is unfathomable. Golovkin is considered one of the best boxers in the world and it isn’t just a strict diet or training regimen that put him there. It’s a deeper desire to always show his two older brothers that he isn’t afraid of anything or anyone, a fuel that is constantly replenished by lacing up his gloves and simply remembering the past.