Best I’ve Trained: Ulli Wegner
Ulli Wegner is one of the most successful boxing coaches of modern times in Europe.
Born in the now-Polish city of Szczecin, the German trainer has worked in the sport for over 40 years, amassing considerable success in the amateur ranks – guiding the German team to a plethora of medals at Olympics, World and European championships and Military Games – and more recently the pros.
Since making the transition to pro boxing he has worked with six world champions.
Sven Ottke (WBA and IBF super middleweight), Markus Beyer (three-time WBC super middleweight), Arthur Abraham (IBF middleweight and two-time WBO super middleweight), Yoan Pablo Hernandez (RING and IBF cruiserweight), Marco Huck (WBO cruiserweight) and Cecilia Braekhus (IBF, WBA, WBC, and WBO welterweight).
Prior to boxing Wegner was in the Army in the old East Germany.
“I saw a boxing contest at our army boxing club, ASK Rostock,” Wegner told RingTV.com through Thomas Schlabe of Sauerland Event, recollecting how he first became interested in the sport. “Then I asked one of the coaches if I could try out boxing. They laughed at first but were impressed by my performance.
“Normally, you would have go through a tough audition before joining an army sports club in the former GDR (East Germany) but they asked me to go right away, which was an exception.”
He boxed 176 times as an amateur and his biggest success came when he won a national championship in 1970. He retired and worked as an amateur coach for over a decade. Then, after the fall of the Berlin wall, he took up a new post as national coach to the DABV (German Amateur Boxing Association) in 1991. There, Wegner aided his country in winning an estimated 150 medals at various tournaments.
He finally made the move to professional boxing in 1996 after the Atlanta Olympics and has worked with Sauerland Event fighters ever since.
2010 International Hall of Fame inductee Wilfried Sauerland, founder Sauerland Event, has long known Wegner and speaks highly of him.
“In 1996 we were in competition with Universum Box Promotion and we both tried to sign boxers and trainers before the Olympics,” Sauerland said whilst explaining their back story. “I got in touch with Ulli Wegner, as I had also an eye on Markus Beyer, who was trained by him. We had a meeting in Berlin and we liked each other and agreed to work together on the same day.
“I have never regretted this decision and we worked amicably from there. Ulli’s strength is his ability to have his boxers come into the ring in top condition, highly motivated and with a tactical plan.”
Although Wegner has enjoyed many successes he points to one he considers his best moment as a trainer.
“Ottke becoming a world champion versus Brewer,” he said.
Wegner still has goals he wishes to achieve in boxing: “I want to form some more world champions; with Jack Culcay, Mateusz Masternak and Kubrat Pulev I will get the chance to do so. And obviously I want Abraham to defend his title a few more times.”
The 73-year-old lives in Berlin with his wife, Margret; the couple has three children and four grandchildren. Wegner is known to enjoy politics and helps out in his home region.
Wegner took some time out to speak to RingTV.com about the best fighters he has trained in 10 key categories.
Arthur Abraham: You would not believe it but over time, Arthur Abraham has developed the best jab of boxers I did or still train. Just watch his last fights and you will see that his jab is his primary weapon nowadays.
Sven Ottke: He had the most important asset to be not just a good- but a world-class operator inside the ring — anticipation. He knew where to move to not to get hit. That’s why he got named “Phantom.”
Ottke: That’s hard to say. I always trained and still train my boxers to hit and not to get hit. To answer this question in another way — I was worried the least when Sven Ottke stepped into the ring.
Ottke: Ottke is naturally gifted.
Ottke: One of the most evasive fighters I have ever seen.
Ottke: Ottke was the smartest to effectively implement tactics inside the ring. Abraham is clever analyzing strengths and weaknesses of his opponent inside the ring. The problem is that he is not always focused and doesn’t bother about every foe. That’s when he gets problems. He tends to underestimate opponents.
Marco Huck and Abraham: Both are naturally very strong. Hernandez – one of the biggest hearts – (he has) already stepped into the ring when he was ill or injured, but in the last two years (of his career) I could no longer take the responsibility for him to fight when not being at 100 percent.
Ottke: You might laugh about my next statement but the truth is that Sven Ottke was the hardest puncher. The problem was that due to his style and his ring intelligence, he couldn’t or didn’t want to open up to showcase it. You could see it once, when he had to go for broke versus (Anthony) Mundine. Otherwise, Arthur Abraham has one hell of a punch.
Markus Beyer: Markus Beyer was the most skillful when focused on the task ahead. Unfortunately, he let himself be distracted easily by his entourage and surroundings. A close second would be Sven Ottke.
Ottke: Easily Sven Ottke — when talking about a total package, he was the prodigy that came closest to it.