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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

61-Year-Old Guard Accuses Valuyev of Assault

APValuyev fighting John Ruiz of the United States during a WBA heavyweight championship match in Berlin in December.
Giant boxer and recently crowned World Boxing Association champion Nikolai Valuyev recently said he had no idols in boxing, only the greatest respect for some of his favorites, including controversial former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson.

Valuyev presumably admires Tyson's exploits in the ring, but after an incident Thursday reminiscent of Tyson's notorious outside-the-ring altercations, the Russian boxer -- who at 2.13 meters tall and 147 kilograms has been dubbed the "Beast From the East" -- could be facing criminal charges.

St. Petersburg police said Friday that they were investigating claims from a 61-year-old security guard, Yury Sergeyev, that Valuyev beat him up outside the Spartak Ice Palace in St. Petersburg after the boxer's wife parked illegally and Sergeyev, who was working as a parking attendant, told her to move her car.

"According to the victim, Valuyev began beating him over the head and continued to beat him even after the attendant fell to the ground," the police said in a statement, Interfax reported.

Sergeyev was hospitalized in stable condition, the statement said. Officials at City Hospital No. 3 in St. Petersburg could not be reached for comment Friday, but one of the hospital's doctors, Alexander Komarov, told NTV television on Thursday that Sergeyev had suffered a concussion as well as scratches and bruises on his face.

Police have questioned Sergeyev but have yet to question Valuyev, who flew to Germany after the incident, the police statement said. In reported interviews, Valuyev has denied hitting the guard.

Calls to St. Petersburg police spokesman Vyacheslav Stepchenko went unanswered, but Interfax reported that no criminal case had been opened as of Friday.

In an interview broadcast on NTV, Sergeyev said he had done nothing to provoke an attack and simply told Valuyev's wife, Galina, that the spot where she had parked was reserved for buses.

"She told me that it was her business and not to interfere," he said in the interview. She called her husband, who arrived 10 minutes later, Sergeyev said.

"She pointed her finger and said 'That's him!' and stepped off to the side," Sergeyev said, Sovietsky Sport reported Saturday. "And Valuyev took me by the back of my neck and dragged me into a ventilation shed. He beat me for a long time, and I even managed to lose and regain consciousness."

In an interview posted Friday on Gazeta.ru, Valuyev said that shortly before he was to fly to Berlin, his wife called him in tears and said that as she parked her car at the Spartak Ice Palace to take their son to the ice rink, the parking attendant had mocked her and yelled at her and demanded to see her driver's license. He then hurried over to Spartak.

"I sincerely regret the conflict, but you have to understand: I acted like any normal man in my position would have, whether he was the world champion or a simple engineer," he said. "I stood up for my wife, Galina, and my 3-year-old son, Grisha."

Valuyev added that the parking attendants had hassled his wife on previous occasions. "And some time ago the attendants even shoved my young son," he said.

In the Gazeta.ru interview, Valuyev did not elaborate on how he resolved the situation. Interviewed by Berliner Zeitung, he denied hitting Sergeyev.

"He insulted my wife, and then I grabbed him by the collar to bring him to his senses," Valuyev was quoted as saying in the German newspaper. "I did not hit this man."

Galina Valuyeva told Gazeta.ru on Friday that it could have been a planned provocation. "Immediately after Nikolai talked with the attendant, an ambulance arrived at the ice palace," she said. "Some times you have to wait three hours for an ambulance, and this time they hurried over immediately. Some people were running around yelling, 'Valuyev won't get away with this! We have lots of friends in television and with newspapers. Everyone will find out what kind of world champion he is!'"

Valuyev, who could not be reached by telephone on Friday, told Russian media over the weekend that he would comment further only after he returned to Russia on Tuesday.

Prominent boxing analyst Alexander Belenky, who has known Valuyev for 10 years and considers him a friend, said he was puzzled by the incident. "He is one of the calmest and most intelligent boxers I know," Belenky said Friday. "Even when he was in school, none of the kids was afraid of him despite his size because he was so kind. This is a very strange and unexpected situation."

Belenky said out-of-the-ring altercations involving high-profile boxers were much less common in Russia than in the West. "Even if they happened in Soviet times, they were naturally never publicized," he said. "In the 1960s, gangs of hooligians would try to seek out a famous boxer and beat him up with 20 people against one. Then they would brag about it for the rest of their lives."

Many talented boxers moved into the ranks of organized crime groups in the 1990s, Belenky said. "But as far as boxers starting a fight with a regular person -- it's a rare occurrence here," he said.

Valuyev, 32, became the first Russian ever to lay claim to the heavyweight title when he dethroned John Ruiz in a majority 12-round decision at Berlin's Max Schmeling Hall in December.