Don’t panic, says Ratch Beckbasi in the salutation – he’s smiling. It means the musty smell that is everywhere in the old gym and instantly hits the nose. “That’s still the sweat of 1914,” he laughs now. The Munich gym Auenstraße 19 has been around for more than 100 years, and it was here that the office of TSV 1860 Munich, in which Beccasi works as a boxing coach, was located. On this Tuesday, 17 boxers under his supervision stood across the seniors hall clearly. There is a red box on the windowsill from which the trainees are exposed to music. The sounds are only interrupted by the Box gong on the Pekpassi mobile, which marks the beginning and end of the exercise periods.
Randy Botticelli is the only person with a cap that hides his dyed blue hair. It’s time to sweat, the next Bundesliga fight will start this weekend, so the weight has to be right. The 18-year-old is having a solid season for the first time, winning four of his five Bundesliga fights so far.
This was unexpected a few years ago, because Botikali’s entry into the world of boxing was rather bumpy: he lost all of his first 10 fights. Botticelli was a “world champion in training,” says Pikbasi, but he lacked the mental strength and unconditional focus in combat. “His mind was elsewhere during the battles.” Defeats would have saddened the boy, many of his age would quickly stop with such negative combat experiences. But Assad’s coaches encouraged him and pushed him not to give up. Because they realized that Botikali has a lot that makes him a good boxer: good reflexes, fast legs, good eyesight. The Battle of Botticelli is called “Black Flash”. Boy, trust yourself, go on, Picatsy kept telling a dejected Botticelli when they brought the S-Bahn back to Munich after his first fights. The boxing department did not have minibuses at that time. Bekbasi also said, “Wait, you’re going to be the world champion.”
“Randy to me is Muhammad Ali at a young age,” said 1860 division chief Ali Cukur, who finished fifth in the world championships.
World Champion – The title is on the top shelf, and the Lions’ officials believe the 18-year-old is capable of it. The biggest name in boxing history is often mentioned in connection with the Bottical: Muhammad Ali. “The way he moves, how he dances, the movement of his foot: to me, Randy is Muhammad Ali at such a young age,” Ali Kokor says in a calm voice. Cukur has been in the boxing business since the 1970s, joining the Lions in 1974. He finished fifth in the Amateur World Championships, worked as a TSV coach since 1988 and took over as department head in 1997. Cukur saw a lot come and go, but there was no Anyone like Botikali. “Randy is something special”, the greatest talent he’s ever had. Cukor’s eyes sparkled when he explained that Muhammad Ali’s first coach wanted to stop him from jumping in the ring because he thought at the time that that would not allow him to be hit hard. Instead, Ali became a legend with his unconventional style at the time. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”: Muhammad Ali’s motto should also take Botikali away.
The 18-year-old does not lack self-confidence. In Muhammad Ali’s best manner, he says he wants to leave “my own legacy”. Botticelli is sitting in the weightlifting room, which is used as a locker room, when he speaks for himself. Worn dumbbells and old tires littered the floor, and the large mirror that dominates the room has been badly torn down. The scene explains why Pekpassi said of the general conditions in the hall: “The body is absorbent, but the engine is running.”
“I was a troubled kid,” Botticelli says — he found a home in boxing. He still lacks German citizenship
“I don’t want to go his way,” Botikali said when asked about Muhammad Ali, from whom he had studied many battles. “A similar one, but my own.” When it comes to ‘greatness’, we’re welcome to walk in Ali’s direction. Botticelli is absolutely convinced that he “will become the best of my generation”. His next goal is the 2024 Olympics in Paris, after which he wants to become a professional. He still lacks German citizenship. Although he was born in Munich, he is still Congolese, like his father. Naturalization procedures are underway, if successful, his path to a German Olympic base is free. Letters of recommendation from the German Boxing Association already exist, and contacts have already been made with the Bavarian Police’s sports promotion group. Before that, you still have to finish your last school year.
As a child, Botticelli was impatient, easy to provoke and therefore often aggressive, and now he says softly between weights and old tires. When there were quarrels and physical quarrels at school, he was usually on top. “I was a problem kid,” he says. His father sent him to judo and kickboxing, but he didn’t really like either of them. It wasn’t until boxing that he found his athletic home. His older brother took him to TSV 1860 when he was thirteen – and sparked his first athletic longing: to become better than his older brother. To achieve this goal, he quickly accepted the advice of his coaches and eventually fell in love with boxing. “When I comment on boxing, I feel different,” he says, meaning “difference” in a positive way. Botikali found his calling.
And what are the initial difficulties in the ring? long forgotten. “It grew out of it,” Picatsy says, while outside, on the opposite bank of the Isar River, people frolic in the midday sun. “Nothing really shocks him anymore, now anyone can come in. Randy’s ready.”