The Slovenia Times

Eye of the Tiger



Dejan, who is also known as "Mr. Sympathikus," defeated the 32-year old South African boxer in an extraordinary fashion and, in doing so, he became the first Slovenian boxer to succeed in winning a world boxing title. The 33-year old Dejan managed to strike his opponent with a final blow, from which Hlatshwayo just could not recover, in the third round.

The "Boom Boom" man struck again, and he struck fast. The Duel in Johannesburg was over in just under nine minutes; mere moments later Dejan proudly lifted his new championship belt. Normally, professional fights last for twelve rounds, but Zavec just did not want to wait that long for his title.

He was convinced that he was coming back home second to none when he sat on the plane to South Africa and he left nothing to chance. He attacked from the first bell and did not drop his guard even for one second. This was his fight, his opportunity of a lifetime and you could see in his eyes that he was not going to let anything keep him from it.

Long road to the top

Dejan Zavec was born in Ptuj in 1976 and started boxing when he was fifteen. Before becoming a professional in 2003, he had won no less then nine amateur national boxing championships and added several international victories as well. As he began his professional sporting career, he joined a German boxing club, Sport Events Steinforth. In the beginning, his rank was 1380, but after only one year, he managed to fight his way to the top 100.

Prior to becoming a world champion, he also won an intercontinental welterweight title and in 2008, he was crowned as the European Union champion. He came out on top in 28 career matchups; in 16 of them, he won with a knock-out, while only falling to his opponent once.

As much as he is a beast in the ring, Dejan is a quiet and peaceful man in his private life. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Magdeburg, Germany, where he also trains, but every time he gets a chance, he loves to return to his hometown Ptuj, where he is a stranger to no one.

Glorious return home

Another treat was waiting for the popular boxer when he returned home. Around 100 fans awaited him at the airport in Brnik, while in his hometown a horse-drawn carriage was waiting for him. Like a king, he strolled down the streets of Ptuj all the way to the City Hall, as people cheered along the way. When he reached his destination, it seemed that the whole town gathered to greet him and welcome him back from a tough battle. The falling snowflakes only made the whole experience feel more like a fairytale.

Not resting on his laurels

Not long after returning home for much needed rest, Mr. Sympathikus was also given a champions belt that will forever reside on his shelves. On this occasion, he thanked everybody who had helped him reach his goal, saying, "Each one of us is deserving of this, with their positive attitude everybody added one piece to this success. We proved that with hard work everything is possible."

Since emerging victorious in South Africa, Dejan has enjoyed enormous interest from the public, boxing fans and (of course) the media.

"All this attention is flattering, now I can proudly and confidently say that I am a boxer," Dejan commented on the commotion spinning around him these days.

Nevertheless, at the same time, he is already looking ahead. Next year, he will defend his title against an opponent whom he himself will choose from amongst the challengers. He will probably opt for Rafal Jackiewicz, who is ranked first on the list of challengers and the only man who has ever beaten Dejan in his professional career; so, naturally he also wants a chance to return the favour.

"I am looking forward to a possible rematch with Jackiewicz. If it comes to this, I of course expect to win. Dejan is now in a completely different position than back then. He is now a champ and others have to challenge him. But even Dejan still has some room for improvement, while I have some ideas how to tune his performance," promised Dejan's trainer Dirk Dzemski.


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