Celebrating 30 years: Greatest boxing trainer Michael Kozlowski
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Michael Kozlowski “Coach Mike” Russian - American Boxing manager and trainer of Russian, Israeli, Panamanian, Chilean, & USA Champions, who handled the careers of Yuri Foreman (WBA World Champion), Jill Emery (IFBA World Champion), Luke Campbell (boxer) (2012 Olympic Champion), Egor Plevako (European Champion), Roman Greenberg (1998 Cadet EUROPEAN silver medalist). First trainer who brought Russian - Olympic boxing style to America.

Before he came to boxing, Mike wanted to be a goalkeeper like Vladislav Tretiak and was sure that he would take his place in the future. Michael Kozlowski was always an excellent student in school, but with bad behavior. He was fair minded and always was fighting in unequal battles. He was small and it was hard to win. By suggestion of his cousin, at age 15 he started to learn boxing under guidance of V.E. Shairer (his student 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist Ivan Dychko) and Kenes Omarov and now desired to represent USSR flag on Olympic in Boxing and not in hockey.

In 1983 Aktubinsk, Kazakhstan, USSR, Michael Kozlowski fought in the quarterfinals of the Kazakhstan National Championships. The fight was stopped by referee in the 2nd round, because of a cut over Michael Kozlowski’s right eye. While being in the hospital, stitching up, young boxer Michael Kozlowski realized that he would never become a Soviet Union Champion, would never go to the World Championship or to the Olympic Games… With no goal in mind, there was no point in continuing to train.

Boxing career in Russia

At 23 years old Kozlowski moved to Moscow. In 1985 Michael Kozlowski’s friend, the former Soviet Union boxing National Champion, Gennadiy Kurgin, helped him find a job coaching in The Olympic Boxing School of Moscow. At the same time, Michael began studying to get a master’s degree in coaching. In Russia, you cannot coach if you do not have a master’s degree. A long career as a coach for Michael Kozlowski began. Twenty boys ranging from 12 to 15 years old stood in front of him, all dreaming of being Olympic champions.

In 1988, 15 year old student of boxing trainer Michael Kozlowski, Andrey Moskvichov, 106 lb (48 kg), after winning a Silver medal in 1988 Russia National Junior Olympic Championships, made the Russian National Team. He was the first of Michael Kozlowski’s students to box internationally, in Norway.

The biggest success came when in 1991 (Russia, Yoshcar-Ola), Sergey Grigoriev, 178 lbs (81 kg) became the first boxing trainer Michael Kozlowski’s Russian National Champion! In this period, in order to survive in Russia, the options were limited to being a businessman, gangster, or a policeman. Many of Michael Kozlowski’s students became gangsters. In 1992, one of his best prospects was killed in a gangster dispute. He was only 19 years old… In 1993, trainer Michail Kozlowski lost another great prospect, Andrey Moskvichov. He was 19 years old too… Some of his other students were imprisoned. It was no movie, it was reality. Michael Kozlowski was faced with the choice to either become a gangster or leave the country…

Boxing career in Israel:

May 10, 1995 Michael Kozlowski and his family, moved to Israel. When Kozlowski got to Israel, he found the boxing program was in a worse state than the Russian boxing trainer expected. Soon after arriving in Israel, Michael started training street kids in the “Basmat” school playground, because there were no boxing gyms in Haifa.

Luckily, because of the climate, Michael could train his boxers outside all year. Yuri Foreman was first student of Israeli new boxing trainer Michael Kozlowski. It took three months to find the money to buy a heavy bag. Michael hung this boxing bag on his balcony and students had to line up to hit the heavy bag.

In 1997, Michael Kozlowski’s boxing Team won the “Team Trophy” in the Israel Under-19 Nationals. Three students of Michael Kozlowski won three gold medals and one student won bronze. Yuri Foreman won the gold in the 132 lbs (60 kg) weight class.

In 1997 (Israel, Tel-Aviv). Michael Kozlowski made his first Israeli National Champion, Anton Amirov, 147 lbs (67 kg).

In 1997 England, Birmingham The president of the Israeli Boxing Association, William Shahada, would send young trainer Michael Kozlowski to the European Championships as the head coach of the Israeli Under-19 National Team.

When Michael Kozlowski got back from England, Roman Greenberg, a 16 year old Israeli prospect moved into his apartment in Haifa from Tel-Aviv. His goal was to prepare Greenberg for the Cadet Europe Championships the following year, and to bring Israel it’s first gold medal from a major international championship. The following week after Latvia, boxing trainer Michael Kozlowski went to meet with the Israeli president, Ezer Weizman. Kozlowski brought the silver medal from the European Championships and the Israeli Sport TV crew. Trainer Kozlowski wanted a gym for his boxers, because they were still forced to train in a school playground with no facilities. The security of president told Michael Kozlowski to go home and wait for an invitation to speak with the president. Michael Kozlowski refused to leave and threatened to begin a hunger strike until the president agreed to meet with him. After a couple minutes, the security guards returned and said that President Weizman was with the president of Turkey, but the Director General Arie Shomer would speak with boxing trainer and his European silver medalist Roman Greenberg…

After two weeks, boxing coach Michael was awarded a big gym in Haifa. Rent was 1 shekel (25 cents) a year, per student!!! This news was on TV every night for a week. Every morning when Michael Kozlowski came to school “Henriette Sold” where he was a physical education teacher, the kids would run to him and say “Michael we saw you on TV!”

November, 1998 (Buenos-Aires, Argentina) Michael Kozlowski was the head coach of the Israeli Boxing Team in the Youth Amateur World Championship. This was the first time boxing trainer Michael Kozlowski met the USA national team, face-to-face. America (full team) only won one medal in this tournament, a bronze. Most of them lost in the first or second bout. Michael Kozlowski returned to Israel determined to move to America.

Boxing career in America

January, 1999 (New York, USA) Michael Kozlowski’s family arrived in JFK. Kozlowski had to start from nothing – new job, new apartment, and lots of new bills to pay. At this time, Michael Kozlowski decided to forget about everything he did in Russia, Israel and in the international arena. First new boxing trainer in USA Michael wanted to make amateur champions in this country, and then think about a pro coaching career. It is much more difficult to develop a boxer from the beginning, than it is to take a ready boxer and turn him pro! Even though it is not my country, Michael Kozlowski set out to make amateur champions. In the summer of 1999 Yuri Foreman moved from Israel to America. He lived with Michael Kozlowski as part of his family in Brooklyn. Michael Kozlowski, his wife, my two daughters (Valerie- 5 yrs old, Diana 12 yrs old) and Yuri all shared a one bedroom apartment.

New USA Boxing trainer Michael Kozlowski immediately started training Yuri Foreman in Gleasons Gym. In September 1999, at Gleason’s Gym American female boxer Jill Emery came to Michael Kozlowski and asked him to teach her what Russian trainer taught Yuri Foreman. She wanted to learn Michael Kozlowski’s style of boxing and in April, 2000 (Midland, TX) Jill Emery became first USA National Champion, 156 lb (71 kg).

In the meantime, Michael Kozlowski’s wife was growing to hate Yuri more and more. Finally, she said, “Either Yuri, or your family!” Michael Kozlowski took Yuri and moved into an apartment one block away from his family. Michael Kozlowski remember, as he was taking the last of his belongings from her apartment, she said, “Look, you are betraying your five year old daughter for this son-of-a-bitch.” Michael Kozlowski said: “Listen, I will never betray my children or my students, ever!” Michael Kozlowski’s wife immediately started divorce proceedings.

Yuri, Jill and other many International “Coach Mike” students were continuing winning different Championships and receiving awards.

In 2001 (New York, USA) Michael Kozlowski’s first Professional Boxer – Yuri Foreman (154 lb). This was the beginning of Michael Kozlowski career as a professional coach. New professional trainer Michael Kozlowski did not know, at that time, how dirty this business is. He had a good team with Yoel Judah, and Jimmy Judah behind new rising prospect Yuri Foreman. In Autumn of 2002, Yuri Foreman was 6-0 (3 K.O.’s). One day at this time Yuri Foreman came to his trainer, Kozlowski, and said: “Michael, the promoter told me that ‘if your no-name coach stays in your corner, you wont be on television’”.

Coach Michael Kozlowski told him: “Yuri, who brought you to this promoter? Who brought you to this level? Now you have to defend me. They have to do what you say. They need you. If they don’t listen to you, we can go to another promoter.” Yuri continued: “They told me to train with Tommy Brooks to learn an American style.” Kozlowski replied, “What is an American style? You’ve been training for eight years with the same style. We don’t have time to switch our style. You have no power or chin for an American style. If you lose one fight, that will be the end of your career. How many good Russian boxers came to America? Hundreds. Where are they? They disappear because they change their style…Yuri, please don’t betray me, don’t betray our dream…” After this conversation, Yuri Foreman stopped coming to Gleason’s GYM.

Weeks and weeks passed. Michael Kozlowski continued to count every dollar, waiting for a call from Yuri Foreman. Instead, Yuri, in December in 2002, sent two FBI agents to Michael Kozlowski’s job, and forced their way past owner Michael Bernesteyn, who helped raise money for Yuri Foreman to travel to Houston. They then began to investigate trainer Kozlowski. Based on what Yuri Foreman told them, Michael Kozlowski was a part of the Russian mafia and that Michael sent someone to put a gun to Yuri Foreman’s head. For two hours, they tried to make Kozlowski confess to criminal charges. When they left they told him, “If you come closer than a few yards of Yuri Foreman, we will send you back to your f—ing Russia.”

This was Yuri Foreman’s way of pushing his trainer Michael Kozlowski out his way. This was the biggest betrayal of Michael Kozlowski’s life.

2005 (Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA) boxing trainer Michael Kozlowski’s First Female PROFESSIONAL BOXER – Jill Emery did her pro debut and in June 2008 Jill became his first female professional IFBA WelterweightChampion of the World !

2005 (Panama City, Panama) coach Michael Kozlowski’s students became Panamanian National Champions – brothers: Gabriel Castillo (132 lb, 60 kg) & Daniel Castillo (141 lb, 66 kg) .

In Madison Square Garden were the 84-th NY Daily News Golden Gloves finals, four students of boxing trainer Michael Kozlowski were in the finals. Three of them became champions in one of the most prestigious boxing tournament in the USA!

April 2011, boxing coach Michael Kozlowski’s student Iegor Plevako won the Sugar Ray Robinson Award for most outstanding open boxer of Daily News Golden Gloves 2011 !


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