Underdogs Arise: Sam Soliman IBF Middleweight Champion

Some sports get lots of coverage, others less so. Boxing does not seem to rank too highly in the coverage stakes, which is why I thought I’d pen a few lines re a local boy gaining world champion status recently.

It was great to see Sam Soliman clinch the IBF middleweight belt in Krefeld Germany, last Sunday. The 40 year old journeyman had a unanimous points victory over local hero Felix  Sturm.  Soliman  had beaten Sturm early in 2013, but had been accused of using an illegal stimulant, which lead to a series of drug tests with disagreements about the findings.  Soliman returned to Germany, again fighting Sturm, and now holds a world title.

Soliman has been fighting in professional ranks since the late 1990’s. His record now stands at 44-11, with 18 KO’s. A number of times he has been a contender for a belt; now he has the IBF  middleweight belt. For non boxing fans Soliman is possibly best known for his three bouts with  Anthony “The Man” Mundine.  Mundine won all three of three encounters, though the first and third bouts went the full twelve rounds, with quite a few people disputing these decisions.

In recent times Germany has become a boxing location/stronghold  to rival America.  Our boxers have had  mixed results there in the last decade.  Who can forget “The Man” finishing his bout horizontal in his one encounter in Germany. Danny Green a few years later was disqualified in his only bout on German soil. Since then both Daniel Geale, and Soliman have won two bouts each , beating the locals in front of large, parochial crowds.

Let’s see where Sam goes from here. He like Daniel Geale, Jarrod Fletcher and Billy Dib are all damn good fighters, who hopefully  put Australian boxing back on the public radar.

The other sporting story of the week I felt didn’t get the recognition it deserved was  the appointment of Peta Searle at St Kilda as an assistant coach. Peta has put in the yard hards in football, both playing and coaching. I first was aware of her when she was an assistant  coach to Gary Ayres when he coached Port Melbourne to their first flag in over 30 years. The reason she had this job was that she had already proven to have the required skills and knowledge to succeed .

Congratulations Peta, all the best at St Kilda.




  1. Andrew Starkie says

    Sam’s journeyman story is a great one and should receive greater recognition at home. But, as you say Glen, boxing gets little these days. With the title he now holds, Sam no longer needs Daniel – who has been avoiding Sam – and will look to unify the middleweight belts. Australian MW’s are right up there now. Wouldn’t it be great to see DG and SS fight for the undisputed title. SS’s a very awkward fighter and DG will have his hands full.

  2. Andrew Starkie says

    Unfortunately, the PED shadow does hang over Sam, which is the official reason DG avoids him.

  3. Gregor Lewis says

    Good onya Glen.

    Sam Soliman’s achievement definitely deserves to be recognised.

    And I gotta say a big subjective Thank You for giving me an answer to a bad case of deja vu I’d been having, since Peta Searle’s appointment was announced.

    I was sure I’d heard it all before. I just couldn’t remember where or why I felt it so strongly.

    Port Melbourne! Of course!

    Thanks again mate!

    Also, Andrew Starkie makes some interesting points. I reckon he’s being a bit kind to Sam Soliman, but the avoidance refrain is an easy answer in boxing, given how often it comes up.

    The reality is, SS has always been the ‘third of two options’ for Geale, given his close ties with Gary Shaw.

    For Shaw, a glorified TV packager, more than a promoter, the M.O has always been getting a subsidy from a TV network and/or site fee from the host location, in preference to building a promotion from the ground up.

    The second Mundine fight made both financial & timing sense for DG, and SS subsequent suspension made it that much easier for Shaw to chase risk-free TV dollars for Geale & himself, from US Cable TV giant, HBO.

    SS now holds the title Geale lost in his inaugural appearance on HBO. Geale is scheduled to fight WBA champion Gennady Golovkin, again on HBO.

    It isn’t a case of avoidance, I don’t think. Just bad eventualities for both SS (suspension) and DG (loss of title), combining with more favourable financial arrangements, to prevent the fight from happening.

    Given that SS has a Middleweight

    Title now, the next 12 months are the optimal time to make this major Australian fight finally happen.

    If Geale pulls off the upset, it can be the unification match it should have been last year. Otherwise, it could be a locally promoted, organically built-up event.

    A SS hometown coronation, or a DG comeback?

    Either way Sam Soliman gets a big say on the big stage … Finally!

    One last thing. SS has one more option. Sign with Golden Boy or Al Haymon (depending on who has WBO middleweight champion Peter Quillin under contract), and pursue the dollars on offer, on the opposite side of the street, in US TV Boxing’s current ‘Cold (but thawing) War’.

    Either way Sam Soliman has a 12 month window to pursue these lucrative options. Looking forward to seeing what he decides.


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