It has been 13 years since an athlete representing Armenia brought home an Olympic medal in the sport of boxing and Arman Darchinyan is among a trio of Armenian boxers who will try to end the drought this month in Tokyo when the 2020 Summer Olympics begin.
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Darchinyan will compete in the men’s middleweight division after qualifying for the Olympics. The 27-year-old qualified in June following a strong showing in the 2020 European Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament. The Vanadzor native defeated Georgian boxer Giorgi Kharabadze in a back-and-forth showdown featuring a flurry of strikes from both competitors. Three of the five judges scored the fight in favor of Darchinyan, who ended up finishing third in the tournament and qualifying for the Olympics.
“This has always been a goal of mine to qualify for the Olympics — but most of all to become a great boxer,” Darchinyan told the Weekly. “Ever since I was young I just wanted to be a great boxer — whether it’s an Olympic champion, world champion or European champion — I’ve just wanted to be successful and be a great boxer and I’m on the road to do that.”
Darchinyan had to overcome a major hurdle during the qualification tournament after it was postponed last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the postponement, Darchinyan defeated Italian Salvatore Cavallaro in the first round. But the uncertainty surrounding the tournament and the need to stay in competitive shape during the pandemic were tough challenges for the young boxer.
“It was unprecedented to have that happen…we had a difficult year with COVID and the war in Artsakh,” said Darchinyan. “It motivated me, though, and I just prepared for the tournament’s restart in Paris.”
The 27-year-old will make his first Olympic appearance along with fellow Armenians Hovhannes Bachkov (lightweight) and Koryun Soghomonyan (flyweight). They will try to become the first Armenians to bring home a gold medal in boxing in the nation’s history and the first to medal since Hrachik Javakhyan won a bronze as a lightweight during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Along with Javakhyan, only four other Armenians have medaled in boxing, but they have done so representing other nations. Artem Harutyunyan (Germany, 2016), David Ayrapetyan (Russia, 2012) and David Torosyan (USSR, 1976) each won bronze medals; Vladimir Yengibaryan (USSR, 1956) is the lone Armenian boxer to win a gold medal. Joining that elite list would be more than a blessing for Darchinyan.
“It would be an honor,” Darchinyan said. “With a medal, you’ll go down in history and be able to raise the flag during the ceremony. It would be a huge thing and a great joy. That’s what I’m after.”
Darchinyan also feels an extra sense of responsibility to perform well this year after a tumultuous year in the homeland due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Artsakh War.
“After all of the bad things that happened — all of the heavy moments that happened, it became even more of a priority to perform well. We need to get many victories so Armenians are recognized as winners and remembered as winners because the Armenian is a winner…This is why I work so hard.”
The Summer Olympics begin on July 23. Darchinyan is scheduled to compete in the middleweight tournament on July 26.