The government awards sports medals based on their overall impact on the sports world.
The highest honor for athletes is the Cheongryongjang (first grade), followed by the Menghojang (second grade), the Colossus (third grade), the White Horse (fourth grade), and the Giraffe (fifth grade).
Kim Sung-il, 64, head coach of the Chungju City Hall boxing team, wears the Meng Hojang on his chest at the Korea Sports Awards ceremony held at the Plaza Hotel in Seoul on Nov. 31.
The honor was unexpected given the sport’s recent struggles in international competition.
It’s also a testament to Kim’s dedication to Korean boxing over the years.
Kim, who started his coaching career in 1980 by establishing the Chungju Boxing Gym in Chungju, Chungcheongbuk-do, has been training boxers in Chungju for more than 40 years.
He has served as executive director of the Chungju Boxing Federation, auditor of the Korea Amateur Boxing Federation, vice chairman of the Sports Fairness Committee of the Korea Boxing Association, and since 2013, head coach of the Chungju City Government Boxing Team.
In recognition of his contributions, he received the Korean Boxing Association’s Best Coach Award in 2018 and the Korea Sports Federation’s Athletic Award in the same year.
After receiving the medal from Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Yoo In-chon, Kim told Yonhap News Agency after the ceremony, “There were some painful moments, but I was most happy when I taught talented athletes for free and trained them in my house, and when they went to international competitions and won medals.”
Kim, who trained only in Chungju, has Olympic medalists among his students.
One of them is Cho Seok-hwan, a bronze medalist in the featherweight division at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
“I wanted to be an athlete myself, but my father was against it,” Kim says, “so I became a coach and put all my efforts into training Ju-Jin.
Kim, who led the founding of the Chungju City Government Boxing Team in 2013 and became its first head coach, is set to hang up the baton after the year ends.
“I need to step aside so that new young leaders can fulfill their dreams. If you have the desire to continue, new people can emerge,” he said.
Still, Kim, who has taken hundreds of thousands of punches from his players, hasn’t given up his intention to continue developing them after stepping down.
“Now I want to donate my talents to middle school and high school,” he laughs, “and when I get sick and lose my strength, I’ll leave.
Coach Kim always emphasizes to his players that “those who are prepared are successful.
His theory is that you can’t succeed in boxing or in life if you prepare by cramming.
“You can only be a good athlete if you are prepared and have the right weight,” he said.
Above all, he emphasized the need for leaders to stay awake.
“The coaches’ enthusiasm shouldn’t cool down. If our passion dies, Korean boxing dies,” he said, adding with a twinkle in his eye, “Korean boxing may be sick and rusty right now, but if young leaders keep their passion alive, it will have eternal life.”
As Kim says, Korean boxing is already in crisis.
The country hasn’t won an Olympic boxing medal since Han Soon-chul at the London 2012 Games, and won just one bronze medal at this year’s Hangzhou Asian Games.
Kim lamented the fractured state of the sport, saying, “Boxers should be united. We’re falling further and further behind on the world stage, and we’re still snarling at each other.” 무료슬롯게임