Photo by AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
- Adam Kownacki, an unbeaten boxer living in New York, is concerned at the reported doping scandals in the heavyweight division.
- Kownacki, who fights battle-hardened veteran Chris Arreola on Saturday, said the scandals are tragic in light of two recent ring deaths.
- "This drug stuff in boxing is out of hand," he told Business Insider. "You could kill someone in the ring."
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Boxing’s heavyweight drug scandals are "tragic" in light of the sport’s two recent ring deaths, the unbeaten Polish boxer Adam Kownacki has said.
Kownacki is fighting his way through a wildly competitive heavyweight division and after wins over Artur Szpilka in 2017, Charles Martin in 2018, and a highlight-reel knockout over Gerald Washington earlier this year, the 30-year-old finds himself ranked 11th in the world by Boxrec, and is on the cusp of breaking into the record keeper’s top 10.
The division was hit by scandal in July, though, as just days after the English heavyweight Dillian Whyte’s decision win over Oscar Rivas at the 02 Arena in London, Boxing Scene reported that he had tested positive for "one or more banned substances" before the bout.
Whyte, the publication said, tested positive for two dianabol metabolites. Whyte tweeted that the news was "rubbish" but his promoter Eddie Hearn, the global managing director of Matchroom Sports, confirmed to the YouTube channel iFL TV that UKAD, an anti-doping body in Britain, had found something "adverse" in an "A" sample taken from Whyte.
Though the fighter completed a separate anti-doping program, registering clear tests for the voluntary anti-doping body VADA, the controversy will not be cleared until UKAD’s investigation into its own sample is concluded.
Whyte previously served a two-year ban in 2012 after he failed a test for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine. He returned to competition in 2014.
He is now one of five fighters (Luis Ortiz, Alexander Povetkin, Tyson Fury, and Jarrell Miller) in Boxrec’s top 10 who have, at one point in their careers, been found to have banned substances in their system.
Kownacki told Business Insider it is concerning to be competing in a weight class where this has happened so frequently. "Yeah, of course, it’s tragic," he said, adding it is also problematic when viewing the scandal in the context of the deaths of Maxim Dadashev and Hugo Santillan in July.
Boxing is a dangerous sport as is, made more dangerous by adding banned substances in the mix, Kownacki said. "This drug stuff in boxing is out of hand," he said. "Especially with what happened last week with two fighters dying. Boxing is a great sport but you don’t play it … you fight.
"With the steroids, people are going to use it till they get caught, but then people who get caught keep using it. [Whyte] got popped before and got a two year ban, but might have popped dirty again. It’s very sad."
Kownacki also said Miller, who failed multiple drug tests earlier this year, is his friend and he wishes him the best, but he’s still calling for more severe punishment for those who fail tests rather than "a slap on the hand" so it’s clear "they can’t get away with that stuff."
He added: "You could kill someone in the ring. I think it should be a fair game. It shows your character, and how strong are you, if you take that stuff."
Kownacki fights this weekend and seeks a clean KO
Photo by AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
Kownacki takes exemplary form into his Saturday fight against Arreola, who he shares co-main event status with in a Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) show at the Barclays Center in New York on August 3.
Arreola is a "tough fighter" who "comes to fight" and "keeps coming forward," he told Business Insider.
Kownacki said Arreola represents a "tough exam" but is "looking to pass" on Saturday.
"What I know how to do is put a beating on people," he said. "I’ll definitely be trying to get a knockout like the one I got against Gerald Washington."
Victory against Arreola would be the 20th of his career and set him on a potential collision course against PBC stablemate Deontay Wilder in 2020.
Kownacki insists his focus right now is on Arreola, but he did say that Wilder’s comments earlier in the year, when he said he wants to know what it feels like to kill an opponent in the ring, "crossed the line" in light of the deaths of Dadashev and Santillan.
"This is a sport, we live in a civil world, saying you want to kill somebody is very wrong. People have families and they live tough lives, and you say you want to kill somebody?" he said. "I think that crossed the line."
The former welterweight world champion Keith Thurman told us earlier this summer that, away from the trash talk, he sees a beauty in testing oneself against another, unarmed, in a ring, and believes there’s an admirability in that.
For Kownacki, the sport has changed his life completely.
"Boxing’s great. It changed my life."
Kownacki moved to the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn from Poland with his family when he was 7 years old, but recently moved to Long Island thanks to his increasing paychecks earned through boxing.
He told Business Insider: "It creates so much opportunity for everybody. Boxing’s great. It changed my life. I’m able to just box, make a living, be well off, bring joy to my community, my fans. People see me on TV and say, ‘Oh Adam, he’s made it,’ but you can make it too."
That feeling of making it may well be enhanced this weekend, should he add another thrilling knockout to his record. This is because shortly after the fight, he will be taking his pregnant wife Justyna on vacation.
"We’re going away to Montauk, end of Long Island, for a week," Kownacki told us. "We went there last year and I love it. With the wife, take a week off away from everybody, get ready for the coming of my son, then get back to work.
"Boxing is great," he said. "It gave me a whole new life."
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