Sidon's boxing odyssey

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

He's 46, but looks 10 years younger.

And when you ask German heavyweight champ Andreas Sidon why he's probably the best-kept secret in European boxing, he hesitates before answering in decent English: "Maybe because they want me to go away."

Not much chance of that happening -- at least not until one of his countrymen can wrest the national title belt from around his waist.

Considering that Sidon has five straight KOs in defence of his German crown, that could be a long wait.

Sidon is the ultimate survivor in a sport known for chewing up and spitting out men of lesser mettle.

In addition to the German title, he owns the World Boxing Board's version of the championship -- which he'll risk against Edmonton's Sheldon Hinton tomorrow night at the AgriCom.

En route to compiling a record of 33-8 with 27 KOs, the six-foot-six, 225-pound father of three has traded punches with some of the best big men on the planet, including current No. 3-ranked Alexander Dimitrenko for the IBF Intercontinental title.

In just his second pro outing, Sidon fought a six-round no-contest with Nikolai Valuev, the seven-foot-one, 330-pound current WBA champ, who was 19-0 at the time.

It's been far from an easy journey, however.

Orphaned at the age of 10, Sidon dreamed of starring in professional soccer. When that dream died, he moved on to Muay Thai fighting and kickboxing -- earning European and world championships.

The fact he was 30 years old when he started amateur boxing never doused a burning determination to succeed in the sport he clearly loves.

"People can't believe I didn't start boxing until I was 30 and didn't turn professional until six years later," he said yesterday. "But the sport was inside me -- in my head, but also in my heart.

"When you are determined, when you believe in yourself and believe that you can always learn more and accomplish more, anything is possible."

In the ring, he learned quickly.

After four amateur bouts he was a provincial champion. After six, he was No. 3 in Germany.

"From the start, I was crazy to fight," said Sidon. "I love being in the gym. I love training. But as we get older, we need to regenerate the way we learn, the way we feed our minds and bodies.

"By the time I turned professional, I knew this was what I wanted to do."

Sidon's success is testament to the dedication he showed from the moment he first pulled on the gloves.

"It's from a love of the sport, much like how artists or musicians love what they do," he said. "Maybe that's why in Germany some of the big players in boxing would like me to just go away.

"The toughest fight I've ever had wasn't in the ring, it was in the courts to get recognition for my German championship. I knocked out every challenger, but the authorities wanted to play politics. I fought back -- and I won.

"I was one man fighting many. But I think people appreciate that I didn't quit."

Tomorrow's six-bout card starts at 7:30 p.m.


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