Ján Zachara

* 1928  

  • “I was beginning when I was fifteen. Back then, there weren't such differences as you can see today. I could fight with a man as well, but today it is divided into juniors, intermediates, seniors, men, etc. At the beginnings there wasn't such division at all. I can just say that our coach, I have already mentioned him, was a professional officer. He used to be in command of many soldiers. If they wanted to have a free Sunday, he asked for their names and allowed them to take the time off only under the condition they would come to the gym. This gym has been still open in Dubnica near the soccer field. They were our sparring partners without any difference. For example, the soldier weighted app. 165 pounds and me, wearing the winter coat, had about 105 pounds in total. So this was the only difference.”

  • “That was the crown of all medalists. Although, I felt quite bad at the welcoming ceremonial at the Strahov Stadium. Back then, the Prime Minister Fierlinger welcomed all of the Olympic contestants, but he forgot to mention that Zachara achieved the 7th place. Then they silently settled it, but during the ceremonial Prague tour I didn't even want to get on the bus. I was lucky to have a wonderful coach, also an athlete, who told me: 'Don't give a damn, Jeník, you shall become a civilian, so just let it be.' Thus I rode around in that bus as well. So this was the end of that ceremonial welcoming.”

  • “I don't try to make any hero of myself, but once I began with sport, I was using my whole free time for training. For example, I used to run into the mountains. The times were hard back then; there were problems with wood and coal. The wood was then taken from Trenčín mountains. We had permission from the city hall to be able to pick only dry branches. This way I knew that by climbing a tree and cutting dry branches I was working out not only my courage, but also my hands. This all a boxer really needs, although, I never had too much strength. I used to say to myself, that my rivals beat me with a stick and I punched them just with a hat.”

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    Bratislava, 05.09.2017

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None of us understood the notion of fame

J. Zachara during mandatory military service, 1951
J. Zachara during mandatory military service, 1951
photo: Archiv - Pamět národa

Ján Zachara was born on August 27, 1928 in Kubrá near Trenčín. In 1943 he enrolled at the local boxing team. Yet during the war, his father was sent to the concentration camp in Ravensbrück, from where he returned with weakened health. After the war, Ján worked in the textile factory Merina and competed in boxing besides his job. In 1946 he got to finals of All-Slavonic Championship, where he tied with the Soviet champion. From inexplicable reasons, two years later he didn’t get a chance to participate at the Olympic Games in London. However, in 1952 he started up in Summer Olympics in Helsinki in so-called featherweight (from 119 to 126 pounds), where he won a gold medal. Until 1959 he became a bearer of four Czechoslovak champion titles.