Famed German boxing trainer Fritz Sdunek, who worked with numerous world champions, died Monday after suffering a heart attack. He was 67.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, Sdunek was the chief trainer for the vast stable of fighters for one-time German powerhouse promoter Universum Box-Promotion, before it went out of business several years ago. During Universum's heyday, Sdunek was in the corner for dozens or world-title fights and was still training top fighters before his death.
Sdunek was the original professional trainer for heavyweight brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, both of whom won heavyweight world titles under his guidance. Sdunek trained Vitali Klitschko for his entire professional career, from 1996 until his final fight in 2012. He also worked with younger brother Wladimir, the reigning heavyweight world champion, from his pro debut in 1996 until they parted ways in 2004.
Wladimir Klitschko paid tribute to his former trainer on his Twitter page:
We lost our friend and former coach Fritz Sdunek. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. RIP our Fritzi... pic.twitter.com/OeAzfVC1sU— Klitschko (@Klitschko) December 22, 2014
Sdunek boxed as an amateur but never turned pro. Instead, he turned to training amateurs, which he did for more than 20 years. One of his top amateur boxers, lightweight Andreas Zuelow, won an Olympic gold medal for East Germany in the 1988 Seoul Games.
But in 1994, Universum chief Klaus-Peter Kohl offered Sdunek the job as head trainer for his growing stable of professionals, and Sdunek, who lived in Hamburg, made the move.
His association with Universum produced several world champions besides the Klitschko brothers, including light heavyweight Dariusz Michalczewski, cruiserweight Juan Carlos Gomez, middleweight Felix Sturm, lightweight Artur Grigorian, light heavyweight Zsolt Erdei, cruiserweight Ralf Rocchigiani and featherweight Istvan "Koko" Kovacs.
More recently, Sdunek was the head trainer for heavyweight titlist Ruslan Chagaev and heavyweight contender Manuel Charr.
Sturm remembered Sdunek on his twitter page:
Words cannot express the pain...Fritz, I'll never forget you. pic.twitter.com/YFZyartS2C— Felix Sturm (@SturmBoxing) December 22, 2014