Firat arslan has even left his family for a while to pursue his dream. "I didn’t see my children for weeks. It’s very, very painful, but I have to set priorities," says arslan.
On 8. February arslan wants to make boxing history and become the oldest world champion in history at the age of 49 years and 133 days. He took over from bernard hopkins, who won the world cup again in 2013 at the age of 48 and 53 days.
To this end, arslan must dethrone the 22-year-younger IBO champion kevin lerena from sud africa in goppingen. For him, the stakes are high even without the title. For the ex-world champion is not only entering the ring as a main fighter. He is also the organizer of the 5600-seat EWS arena. He had paid a six-figure sum in advance. "If the fight had to be cancelled because of an infection, it would have been a financial fiasco for me," stresses the cruiserweight. But there had not been a cancellation with him in 30 years.
To ensure that it does not come to that this time, arslan has taken radical measures. Anyone from his team who showed even the slightest sign of a cold was no longer allowed to come to training. His on 17. He had not seen his son bilal, who was born on october last year, for fear of an infection "for more than half of his life so far. "But the reunion will be all the more special for it," says arslan.
Even his three-year-old twin daughters melisa and lina did not come too close to him during the preparation for the event. In order to be able to take his children in his arms as world champions, he went to the extremes during preparation. In addition to a training camp in liechtenstein, arslan also toughened up in a high chamber in bad aibling. At the "hermann buhl institute" there, a height of 3000 meters was simulated.
The dark air has worked. Arslan had a maximum pulse of 207 in sparring, which is anatomically remarkable for his age, and fought for almost an hour with an average heart rate of 190. "The engine is resilient," arslan says, sounding a little proud. "My resting pulse is just under 40. I’m really fit. The chance to become world champion again is an immense incentive to give everything."
At the same time, arslan does not hide the fact that he is starting to notice his age. Which at 49 is no disgrace, of course. "The regeneration after hard units takes much longer", he explains. "But i am a realist. I know that I will probably not be able to improve on my best performance again. But I think my experience will allow me to perform at my best."
On his history-making fight night, however, arslan can be seen as an aubenseiter. Lerena has ended almost half of his 24 fights early. In september, he had formally knocked sefer seferi out of the ring, while arslan had only managed a draw against the same boxer just under a year earlier. "I’ve been thinking about firat every morning in preparation for this duel and how hard he trains. Then I got up and trained even harder," says lerena.
Such trashtalk is part of boxing. And arslan remains relaxed despite the clear distribution of roles. "I’ve often been bought in as a loser and then surprised everyone," explains the boxing grandpa. Arslan also hopes for this in the fight on 8. February. But the important thing for him, he said, was that he knew he had given one hundred percent afterwards. "That I’m at peace with myself when I look in the mirror."