Armenian athletes have been representing the independent Republic of Armenia in many international championships, world cups and Olympic games for already 25 years. Here are selected some of these Armenian athletes including boxers, footballers and wrestlers that Armenians are proud of.
There are many spheres of life that Armenians are talented in.
If we take a look at the history of Armenian culture, literature, art, theatre and music, it’s clear – Armenians are a talented nation. They also proved their talent in sports.
Years pass by, but legendary Armenian athletes even from the soviet years are still being cherished.
Great examples are Albert Azaryan, or football team Ararat and their victory in 1973.
Today, 25 years after the independence, there are new faces and new talents that make the world stand for the Armenian anthem. You can find worldwide known Armenian footballers, boxers, wrestlers, weightlifters and so on.
We have collected a list of Top 6 best Armenian athletes as of the year of 2016. Let’s find out who they are.
Armenian Athlete 1: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
- Date of Birth: 21 January, 1989
- Born in: Yerevan, Armenia
- Occupation: Footballer
No discussion about Armenian athletes and especially Armenian footballers can occur without speaking about Henrikh Mkhitaryan. He is the best footballer and midfielder in the Armenian National team. Henrikh, or as Armenian fans call him, Heno, got in football when he was a little boy.
According to him, he was inspired by his legendary father, Hamlet Mkhitaryan. Hamlet was one of the most renowned Armenian footballers of his times. Unfortunately, Henrikh lost his father at the age of seven. After his loss, Heno decided to continue football career and become the best footballer in Armenia, whatever it takes.
Even though he started his football career in Armenian FC Pyunik, later Heno continued his career in different international FCs. He played in Ukrainian FC Shakhtar Donetsk, German FC Borussia Dortmund and now is a midfielder in FC Manchester United.
During his years in different teams, Mkhitaryan received many titles. He became the best player of Shakhtar Donetsk during the season 2011-12 Premiere League. In Borussia Dortmund, Heno became the best player of Bundesliga in season 2015-16.
In 2012, Henrikh was named in UEFA’s Top 100 footballers. He was named the CIS footballer of the same year and the next year. On top of that, he was voted as the Armenian Footballer of the Year five times.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan as a citizen and human
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s international success didn’t make him any less humble and loving towards his country. Mkhitaryan is always involved in a wide range of humanitarian organizations and initiatives. He often visits children’s hospitals and meets his fans.
The reason we call him humble, is because he never likes to talk about his humanitarian activities whenever he is asked; those things are never manipulated from his or his family’s side.
All of these qualities as a professional footballer, human being and just a patriot, make Henrikh Mkhitaryan one of the most beloved and appreciated Armenian athletes.
Armenian Athlete 2: Artur Aleksanyan
- Date of Birth: 21 October, 1991
- Born in: Gyumri, Armenia
- Occupation: Greco-Roman Wrestler
What is every sportsman’s dream? Of course, the Olympic title. There is nothing bigger and more worthy for the sportsman and the sport life of the country than the Olympic gold medal. Unfortunately, Armenia didn’t have Olympic gold medal during 20 long years. But Rio 2016 was the boom! One of Armenian athletes finally brought Olympic gold to Armenia.
That athlete was a Greco-Roman wrestler, Artur Aleksanyan. His victory was glorified and celebrated in Armenia as that of a war hero’s. Well, that is logical, 20 years without gold medal is a long time. But should we mention that it wasn’t only during Olympics games, that Aleksanyan made the Armenian flag rise and the national anthem play.
Artur was titled three-times a European Champion and twice a world champion. Unfortunately, or fortunately, it’ll take a few pages to name all the awards and titles Artur received during his sport career. Those are the worthy ones. But did we mention his age? He is only 25 years old with all this titles.
After the Olympic debut, Aleksanyan was asked about the future motivation, since he had won all the possible medals he dreamed of. The wrestler mentioned that the first Olympic medal can’t be the end of his career, but rather a glorious opening. He announced about his intentions to became multiple-time European and World champion and also, possibly to add two more Olympic gold medals to his collection.
The Patriotism of Artur Aleksanyan
It’s notable to mention his patriotism as well. Aleksanyan showed his patriotism many times, when he turned down all the invitations to represent other counties during Olympic games, although he was offered a lot more money.
How about those who still had doubts?! The wrestler proved them wrong during Olympic award ceremony, where he appeared with the photo of an Armenian soldier on his T-shirt. The soldier was Robert Abajyan, who got killed during Armenian-Azerbaijani clashes in April 2016 and was awarded as a hero of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).
After these many heroic-like attempts, Artur Aleksanyan is, of course in the center of public attention and can totally be named the top Armenian sportsman of the year.
Armenian Athlete 3: Arthur Abraham
- Date of Birth: 20 February, 1980
- Born in: Yerevan, Armenia
- Occupation: Boxer
Arthur Abraham is an Armenian professional boxer, who has been representing Germany for many years. Even though Abraham was born in the Armenian SSR, he moved to Germany with his parents in 1995. He was 15 years old then.
During early years in Germany, Arthur had a big interest in cycling, but later he chose the career of a boxer. In many of his interviews he admitted that Mike Tyson was his biggest inspiration in choosing the profession of a boxer. He always wanted to be as strong and invincible as Mike Tyson.
Abraham used to be two-weight world champion. From 2005-2009 he held IBF middleweight title and from 2012-2016 held WBO super-middleweight title twice. During middleweight time, he was famous for his punching power and “iron chin”.
Arthur Abraham and Armenia
Just like other Armenian athletes, Arthur Abraham is also famous for his patriotism. Even though he had to drop his Armenian citizenship, in order to receive the German one, it didn’t affect his attitude towards his homeland.
In 1999 Abraham, along with his brothers, came back to Armenia to serve in the Army. Only after completing two-year service in the Armenian Armed Forces he went back to Germany to pursue the career of a boxer.
Furthermore, all his future plans are connected with Armenia. Talking about his future plans, Arthur once said that after finishing his career as a boxer, he will open a boxing school in Armenia.
Armenian Athlete 4: Migran Arutyunyan
- Date of Birth: 25 March, 1989
- Born in: Echmiadzin, Armenia
- Occupation: Greco-Roman Wrestler
Migran Arutyunyan is also one of Armenia’s most famous and talked-about wrestlers. Arutyunyan was born in the city of Echmiadzin, Armenia, but at the age of five Migran moved to Moscow, along with his family.
Migran’s early sport career started in Russia, he was multiple-time champion of youth wrestling championships in different countries.
Nevertheless, for some reason, the wrestler was not allowed to represent Russia in important championships, despite the fact that Migran’s previous results showed that he was the most suitable athlete. Those championships could have led him to London Olympics in 2012.
In addition to that, none of the chosen athletes actually brought any medal to Russia. The unfair decision by the heads of Russian national team, not to include Migran, made him reconsider representing Russia on international championships.
In 2013 Arutyunyan changed his national team and started representing his home country, Armenia.
In 2015 Migran Arutyunyan brought the only medal for Armenia from the European games in Baku. Everyone in Armenia was very much worried about the Armenian athletes, because of the political tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The wrestler himself admitted that there was a lot of pressure and tension from Azerbaijani fans during the games. But still, he was able to get the silver medal and become the runner-up of Greco-Roman wrestling in 66kg category of European games.
After coming a long and hard way, Rio 2016 seemed to be Migran Arutyunyan’s year of glory. Migran started his Olympic path very impressively. He routed all his opponents and secured his place in the final.
The Olympic final of the Armenian athlete
The final battle was not less impressive than the other ones. Arutyunyan met Davor Stefanek on the mat. Migran’s domination during the whole battle was absolutely visible for both, professionals and amateur viewers. But seems like the unfair attitude towards this Armenian athlete had a chronic nature.
Arutyunyan was very unfairly cheated out of gold and got the silver medal. After the judges declared Stefanek’s victory, everybody in the stadium started booing. That happens really rarely, when a newly declared Olympic champion gets booed right on the mat.
Have a look at this quick overview of the Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling for 66kg in Rio.
This, of course, did somehow disappoint Migran, he even gave an emotional interview and said that he doesn’t want to continue sports after this. Arutyunyan’s sad emotions and tears turned into happy ones the moment he stepped into the arrival room of Zvartnots airport. Armenian fans were cheering and welcoming him as a hero.
The president of the Armenian Olympic committee took away his silver medal and gave him a gold one. Since then, wherever he goes, he is announced and welcomed as an Olympic champion. In one of his latest interviews Migran said:
I felt heartbroken and disgusted after the battle, because that is not how you judge an Olympic battle. I felt that I don’t want to continue this, there is just no reason. But after seeing this much love from my country and from my fans, I just cannot let them down. I’m not allowed to give in so easily. I will continue and I will get that medal eventually, whatever it takes and whoever wants to stop me.
Armenian Athlete 5: Gor Minasyan
- Date of Birth: 25 October, 1994
- Born in: Gyumri, Armenia
- Occupation: Weightlifter
Gor Minasyan is one the youngest Armenian athletes in this list. Rio 2016 Olympic games were the debut for this weightlifter. This was his first Olympic appearance as an adult and he took home a silver medal.
It is not surprising that Gor did so well in Olympic games, since he is from Gyumri. This city in not only famous for its peculiar accent, humor and hospitality, but also for giving many talented and successful sportsmen to Armenia.
Until the age of 11, Gor took classes of wrestling and boxing, but eventually ended up professionally in weightlifting. Gor is a multiple-time Armenian champion. He became the runner-up in 2010 Youth Olympic games.
Unfortunately, in 2013 Minasyan was banned for 2 years. But after returning to big sport in 2015 he won gold and silver medals one after another in different international championships, which led him to Rio Summer Olympics 2016.
After becoming the runner-up in 94+ kg category, Gor was happily welcomed in Armenia. He received several awards from Armenian Olympic committee, Minister of defense, presidents of Armenia and Artsakh.
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