Walking along an iron fence that surrounds the famous Dynamo Stadium, I see a group of young boys playing football on the practice court behind the concrete bleachers. Looking through the iron bars - as I approach the end of this city block - I see a group of men standing in a loose line... bouncing lightly, tapping their toes on the cold asphalt, letting their relaxed arms mirror the movement of their shoulders, as their feet hit the ground. Warm breathe billows out of their mouths as the morning light makes its rise over the stadium seats. Two of the men are eye to eye, moving swiftly across the open court with their hands to their chins. Behind the cracked surface of used boxing gloves, their wrinkled faces and eyes are fixed on their opponent. The two men dance around the court sending blows to the body and slow transparent punches to the gloves that protect the head.
The Vladivostok Boxing Club meets every Saturday morning for practice and sparing. Mr. Vadim, 66, tells me that the men are apart of the "Club 66", all members of the group are in their senior years. Vadim is a retired economist who spent his career in the fishing industry and now operates a small shipping company out of Vladivostok. With gregarious camaraderie Vadim goes around the group riddling off the names of the other men and spitting out bio details of individuals. Georgi (66) was Far-Eastern Champion in 1971-72'. He is catching jabs from "The Baby", Alexsander (56), the youngest member of the club. The men take turns sparing, encouraging one another to push harder and harder, bellowing loudly with each punch.
--Situated near the borders of China and North Korea and at the southern end of the Primorsky Krai peninsula, Vladivostok is home to the Russian Navy's Pacific Fleet and Naval Base, where mandatory servicemen spend a lot of their enlistment.--