Andrija became the driving spirit of the year and has lifted the boxing in Växjö
34-year-old Andrija is the boxing guy who became a trainer and who helped develop one of Sweden's foremost fighters, Shady Gamhour. The story began in 2012 when Andrija wanted to start a competition activity in Växjö and therefore started the boxing club ATF Gym. The success did not wait. It quickly resulted in bronze, silver and gold in the Swedish championship
– The boxing people in Sweden were completely surprised. We were a totally unknown club. They asked, who are you?
One of Andrija’s first competitor was Shady Gamhour.
- I saw the talent right away. He was ambitious, humble and had an extreme discipline and willingness to learn things.
Andrija was only 24 years old at the time and was considered very young to be a trainer for such a brilliant boxing talent. People were talking and questioning it.
– I understood people's thoughts, they wondered who I was.
But Andrija and Shady's collaboration continued and has taken them all the way to the top tier of professional boxing in the United States. Last year, Shady captured the WBF belt in the middleweight. Behind the success lies years of purposeful training and sparring.
– To be good at boxing you have to be extremely disciplined. Being physically strong is not enough. It is about technology and mental strength. You will learn how to hit right but above all learn NOT to get hit.
Daring is also important. Andrija and Shady took the chance and went over to the US for profit and loss. They sparred with lots of fighters at various clubs. In New York, it was finally a coach who recommended Shady to do a tryout at boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. in Florida.
– We jumped into the car and drove at full speed towards Florida. After a 17-hour drive, we arrived and were welcomed by Roy. He then let Shady go eight rounds straight. Roy liked what he saw and now he is Shady's promoter in the US.
In parallel with the training of Shady, Andrija has continued to run ATF Gym, which is today Växjö's largest boxing club with a total of 170 members.
– We have grown incredibly fast. Today we have almost grown to fast because we find it difficult to get hold of leaders for all young people.
A good boxing leader according to Andrija is both tough and kind.
– You has to be psychological. You have to be tough and tell when something is wrong but also be like a decent friend. The most important thing is to have PRESENCE. Being a boxing leader requires commitment. You have to be with the young people in everything they do, it doesn't work if you lose focus and look away.
Andrija describes ATG Gym as a large family, where members can talk about everything between heaven and earth.
– All the young people here are eager to stay in the club. They know they are going to be kicked out if we find out they have done something stupid. Therefore, they always tell if something has happened. The same thing if they were ill at home or at school. We are always honest to each other. As a boxing leader, you become like an extra father.
In conjunction with the Karl-Oskar days, Andrija received the award "Årets eldsjäl" (driving spirit of the year) in the Municipality of Växjö, a recognition for the efforts he has made for Växjö's youth. The award has, above all, got those outside the boxing world to catch their eyes on ATF Gym and the importance of boxing in society.
– Boxing usually does not get much media attention. It is mostly written about ice hockey and football.
But Andrija can at the same time note that there is now a lot of boxing in the Växjö schools.
– Ask any guy at the school, they know about Shady and his successes. The fact that a Växjö resident becomes a professional fighter is great.