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Forgotten Champions: Slobodan Kacar


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Only the second pro boxer from Yugoslavia to win a world title, Slobodan Kacar (pronounced "Ka-char") was a decorated amateur and won an Olympic gold medal before turning pro in 1983. He was already almost 26 by then, so his pro career could never be too long, but he managed to win the IBF light heavy title against Eddie Mustafa Muhammad before losing it to Bobby Czyz.


He was born 15 September 1957 in Perucica, near the town of Jajce in Central Bosnia. His older brother Tadija was also a very good amateur boxer who won the light middleweight silver in the 1976 Olympics. They had one older brother who didn't box. Slobodan says that watching Muhammad Ali lose to Joe Frazier inspired them both to take up boxing, because "they wanted to avenge Ali". That same year, 1971, the brothers moved to Veternik, a village near the big town of Novi Sad in Northern Serbia. It was there that they both started training boxing, for the Novi Sad club "Vojvodina". Slobodan was not as physically strong as his brother back then and his parents didn't support his decision to start boxing, thinking him to not be strong enough. Nevertheless, Slobodan became a very successful amateur and took his first medal, a bronze, at the 1978 World Championships which were held in Belgrade, not that far from his residence. He competed first as a middleweight but eventually grew into a light heavyweight, standing just under 6'1. In 1980 he replicated the success of Yugoslavia's greatest boxer Mate Parlov, winning a gold medal at the Moscow Olympics, as a light heavyweight, just like Parlov did 8 years earlier. He was also named the Yugoslav athlete of the year for 1980. He ended his amateur career with a record of 241-9.


While his brother elected not to turn professional, Slobodan's career had been too impressive so far not to try and he had his first pro match 4 March 1983 in Pesaro, Italy, the same place where he would achieve his greatest triumph. He dispatched a 14-42-10 fighter called Gabriele Lazzari by TKO2. He was trained by the great Angelo Dundee, after moving to USA to train there. His first rather significant victory was against Ugandan-born Yawe Davis, who later knocked out Carl Thompson. It was 8 February 1984 in Italy when Kacar outpointed Davis over 8 rounds. He also decisioned the solid 6'2 Ramzi Hassan, a Michael Moorer and Virgil Hill-challenger, running his record to 20-0 with 12 ko's. He then landed the chance he had been dreaming off-to win the vacant IBF title against Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, one of the best light heavies of his time and himself a former world champion. It was 21 December 1985 in Pesaro when Kačar found himself the winner and world champion after 15 hard fought rounds. He was cut during the fight but was lucky that he had Dundee, whom he calls "magician", in his corner, who fixed the cut easily. Although only 5 years younger, Kacar had less mileage on him and came on strong in the late rounds to snatch a split decision. Only Harold Lederman had Muhammad winning, 145-143.


He was then supposed to face Bobby Czyz in his first defense sometime in the spring of 1986, but the fight got postponed for unknown reasons and, after his own words, it made him lose some of his fire as he had to wait until September to finally defend his title. It was on this day actually that he fought Czyz, 6 September, at Las Vegas Hilton. Czyz was shorter than him at 5'10 but very fast, tenacious and a hard hitter. Czyz was the aggressor from the onset while Kacar concentrated on boxing and counterpunching. Kacar had a good first round but was caught with a combination at the end of it. The faster and more mobile Czyz started dominating in round two and constantly caught Kacar with good, clean punches. Kacar had a better round three but was unable to do much damage to the elusive and tough Czyz. In the next round he started to get hit a lot by Czyz and he seemed to have no answer. He only managed to land one nice right through the guard of Czyz but only seconds later he was hurt again by another combination from Czyz. In the fifth, Kacar was put down after an onslaught from Czyz as he was against the ropes. He beat the count and continued, but was then hit with a storm of blows and stopped on his feet, 1 minute and 10 seconds into the round. Farewell to that belt.


His career would never recover from this devastating loss and though he won his comeback fight in April next year on points against Danny Lawford, less than a month later he was knocked out by journeyman Blaine Logsdon in 2 rounds in Italy. Logsdon was a hard hitter who also knocked out Crawford Ashley. He was now almost 30 when he retired from the sport, with a record of 22 wins, 12 by ko, and 2 losses, both by ko. After retirement he worked as a sports professor and trainer. He returned to Novi Sad in 2003 and in 2004 he was made the president of the boxing federation of then-Serbia and Montenegro. He was relieved of the duty in 2009. He also has a house in Miami Beach and a motel as well, and in the late 80's he gained American citizenship. Slobodan Kacar was the last world champion from Yugoslavia and also so far the last boxer who as amateur trained in Yugoslavia to win a world title in boxing. Felix Sturm (Adnan Catic) and Marco Huck (Muamer Hukic) have since won world titles, but Sturm was born and raised in Germany and Huck was trained in Germany for his whole career. Kacar was a classic European-style boxer, who used his height and reach well and had a good jab and a good right hand and was rather durable. It is a pity he never could come back after the Czyz fight and also that he was never given a rematch.

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