By Eric Newman
Scottsdale Boxing Club’s trainers include an Olympic medal winner
Olympic boxer Vassiliy Jirov has competed – and succeeded – against some of the world’s toughest fighters. Now he shares his knowledge in boxing clinics and training sessions at the Scottsdale Boxing Club.
“He grew up in Kazakhstan, and he’s been boxing his whole life,” says SBC owner Paul Pelletier. “He has things to teach that just about nobody else in the world has seen.”
Jirov has worked with the club since its inception in September 2017. He’s one member of Pelletier’s high-level coaching staff at Scottsdale Boxing Club, which has a goal to increase the Valley’s interest in boxing.
The 44-year-old Jirov calls Scottsdale home, as the desert reminds him of his birthplace, Balkhash. He is not yet a decade removed from his boxing career, which saw him take home an Olympic gold medal in 1996, an IBF cruiserweight world championship title and countless other boxing honors.
“When I was a young kid, I wanted to change my life, and I wanted to be different from other people,” he says. “It took me a lot of encouragement from coaches to push myself, and get to the level I made it to.
“I know if I had the right person next to me, it would have been a lot easier to get to the next level, and I know how hard it is to find the right person to tell you exactly what to do. All the knowledge I have now, I want to give it to other people.”
Boxing is difficult and coaching can be trying, but Jirov is understanding and rarely gets frustrated with his fighters. He knows winning fighters must be levelheaded. “If you want to learn, ask,” Jirov says. “If I see something, I will tell you, but you have to listen.”
Pelletier, who also founded Scottsdale’s Edge Fitness, says boxing is rare in that it tests mental and physical strength. He is astonished at the increased confidence and life skills he has seen from his returning students, some of whom previously struggled in school or work.
“You see people transform from when they walked in here,” he says. “They have their head down, just like any other thing you’re not used to doing. You see them leave, they’re smiling, a little sweaty, and you can instantly see their confidence growing each time.”
With further training moving forward, Pelletier, Jirov and the rest of the SBC staff hope to change even more lives and keep garnering enthusiasm for boxing around the area.
Scottsdale Boxing Club is located at 10810 N. 71st Place in Scottsdale. For more information about clinics and training sessions, call 480-483-2898 or visit