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Marijan Beneš (Serbian Cyrillic: Маријан Бенеш; 11 June 1951 – 4 September 2018) was a Yugoslav boxer. He is considered one of the best boxers in Yugoslav history. After a brilliant amateur career, culminating in the gold medal in European Amateur Boxing Championships in Belgrade, he turned professional in 1977, and won the European Boxing Union title in the light welterweight in 1979. Beneš withdrew from the ring in 1983, after a severe eye injury.

Marijan Beneš
Маријан Бенеш
Marijan Beneš in 2009
Real nameMarijan Beneš
Weight(s)Light middleweight
Born(1951-06-11)11 June 1951
Belgrade, PR Serbia, FPR Yugoslavia
Died4 September 2018(2018-09-04) (aged 67)
Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Boxing record
Total fights394
Wins by KO7
No contests0



Beneš was born in Belgrade[1][2] to Croat father Josip and Serb mother Marija (née Vukić).[3] Under the influence of his father, a music teacher, Beneš played piano and violin in his childhood. He had three brothers and one sister.[1][4] He spent his childhood in Tuzla. His life took a radical turn when he (allegedly) entered the ring at the age of 10 and won against an 18-year-old opponent. When he was 16, he signed for the Slavija boxing club in Banja Luka, where he would stay during his amateur career.[5]

Beneš described himself as being staunchly opposed to "Greater Serbs" and "Greater Croats", maintaining a Yugoslav identity.[1][3]


During his amateur career, Beneš won nine titles in Bosnia, four titles of Yugoslav champion, and a number of other competitions.[6] In 1973, he won the European title in light welterweight in Belgrade and he received the "Golden Badge", an award for the Best Athlete of the year in Yugoslavia. Soon after he caught hepatitis, which could have meant the end of the career. "Radically stubborn" (as he said himself),[1] and devoted to boxing, he decided to continue. He also participated in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, but lost in the second round.

He turned professional in 1977, rising quickly to the European top. On 17 March 1979, in his hometown Banja Luka, he won the EBU title knocking down the defender, French boxer Gilbert Cohen,[7] in the fourth round.[8] He defended the title successfully four times, and lost on points in 1980 to then WBA world junior Middleweight champion Ayub Kalule, for the WBA's world championship in a match regarded as one of toughest in the Denmark ever.[by whom?] He eventually lost the EBU crown to Louis Acaries in 1981.[2]

A severe injury of his left eye effectively sealed his career. It is not exactly known which match caused it; by one account, it was a match with Luigi Minchillo in 1983,[2] and by another, it originated from the 1979 match with Sandy Torres in Zenica, and the condition worsened since.[6] During the career, he suffered a number of other injuries: 26 bone fractures and damaged vocal cords, that caused him to speak quietly and slowly.[1] He withdrew from the ring in 1983, fighting only two more exhibition matches in 1990s. The ring injury eventually left Beneš blind in his left eye.[1]

After boxing and deathEdit

Beneš's brother was killed in 1992, during the Bosnian War.[1] Beneš also participated in the war.[1] At the end of the war in 1995, he was forced to leave Banja Luka after a number of threats. He sold his possessions cheaply, and during the war he stayed in Medulin and Zagreb, in Croatia, in poverty. He divorced from his wife Stana, who moved to Niš, Serbia, with their daughters Žanet and Marijana.[1][6] As he put it, "everything turned around; people started hating each other overnight…there are great people, but the war helped me realize who is the real people and who is scum."[1] He returned to Banja Luka in 1996, after the end of the war, continuing to live in modesty. "I lived in Croatia, people respected me, but I'm used to the old friends".[1]

In 2004, a documentary film of Beneš's life, titled Bio jednom jedan šampion (Once Upon a Time There Was a Champion) was recorded in the production of Independent Television Banja Luka. Despite modest ambitions, it toured all over the former Yugoslavia, and Beneš was frequent guest on promotions.[1][4]

Beneš lived the rest of his life in Banja Luka under modest circumstances, mostly financed by his sister Ljiljana. He published a book of poems Druga strana medalje (Another Side of Coin), devoted to sports, and he said that he had written a dozen more, and that he planned to publish them. Despite regular physical activity and a healthy diet, his boxing career and advanced age caused some health complications. In 2017, Beneš was suffering from Alzheimer's disease and was wheelchair-bound.[9] He died on 4 September 2018 at the age of 67.[1][6][10]

Boxing record as a professionalEdit

32 Wins (21 knockouts, 11 decisions), 6 Losses (3 knockouts, 3 decisions), 1 Draw[11]
Result Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
Win -- Cliff McCourry KO 2 02/02/1997   Požega, Croatia
Win 9-2   Salvatore Di Salvatore TKO 5 03/05/1991   Banja Luka, Yugoslavia
Win 25-14-2   Maurice Bufi KO 6 02/12/1983   Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle, Stuttgart, West Germany
Loss 20-32-1   Johnny Heard KO 1 16/04/1983   Salzburg, Austria
Win 7-4   Mbayo Wa Mbayo RTD 6 31/03/1983   Split, Yugoslavia
Win 11-3-1   Darwin Brewster PTS 10 27/01/1983   Rijeka, Yugoslavia
Loss 39-2   Luigi Minchillo MD 12 28/10/1982   San Severo, Italy EBU Light Middleweight Title. 116-116, 116-118, 114-118.
Win 7-4-2   Gordie Lawson KO 4 10/06/1982   Titograd, Yugoslavia
Win -- Tony Desroche KO 2 09/03/1982   Sarajevo, Yugoslavia
Win 14-11-3   Randy Milton KO 1 19/12/1981   Split, Yugoslavia
Win 15-5-2   Franz Dorfer TKO 4 06/11/1981   Vienna, Austria
Win 8-2-4   Andre Mongelema PTS 10 18/09/1981   Vienna, Austria
Loss 29-3   Louis Acaries PTS 12 19/03/1981   Paris, France EBU Light Middleweight Title.
Win 12-4-1   Antonio Alejandro Garrido TKO 9 09/02/1981   Vienna, Austria
Win 32-14-4   Sandy Torres PTS 10 20/12/1980   Split, Yugoslavia
Win 37-8-5   Georges Warusfel TKO 5 06/10/1980   Paris, France EBU Light Middleweight Title.
Loss 33-0   Ayub Kalule UD 15 12/06/1980   Randers Hallen, Randers, Denmark WBA World Light Middleweight Title. 145-149, 142-149, 147-149.
Win 10-8-2   Freddie Boynton KO 3 28/03/1980   Berlin, West Germany
Draw 29-4-1   Damiano Lassandro PTS 12 13/02/1980   Pesaro, Italy EBU Light Middleweight Title.
Win 19-0-2   Adrie Huussen TKO 3 05/11/1979   Sportpaleis Ahoy, Rotterdam, Netherlands EBU Light Middleweight Title.
Loss 29-12-4   Sandy Torres TKO 6 25/08/1979   Zenica, Yugoslavia
Win 26-0   Andoni Amana TKO 8 06/06/1979   Bilbao, Spain EBU Light Middleweight Title.
Win 23-13-1   Zip Castillo KO 1 28/04/1979   Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Win 20-2-1   Gilbert Cohen KO 4 17/03/1979   Banja Luka, Yugoslavia EBU Light Middleweight Title.
Win 72-17-27   Everaldo Costa Azevedo PTS 10 18/11/1978   Berlin, West Germany
Win 68-5-4   Elisha Obed PTS 10 02/09/1978   Berlin, West Germany
Win 3-11   Tiger Quaye PTS 8 29/05/1978   Sportpaleis Ahoy, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Win 8-4-2   Peter "Cricket" Neal KO 5 06/05/1978   Frankfurt, West Germany
Win 3-10   Tiger Quaye KO 1 07/04/1978   Berlin, West Germany
Loss 2-10   Tiger Quaye TKO 3 15/02/1978   Sportpaleis Ahoy, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Win 28-7-3   Pat Thomas PTS 8 16/01/1978   Rotterdam, Netherlands
Win 12-8   Wa Bukasa KO 3 16/12/1977   Vienna, Austria
Win 21-7-1   Steve Angell TKO 4 10/12/1977   Berlin, West Germany
Win 19-5-1   Alain Ruocco PTS 8 18/11/1977   Vienna, Austria
Win 10-8-2   Mick Minter TKO 2 31/10/1977   Sportpaleis Ahoy, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Win 23-32-4   Scottish John Smith PTS 8 10/10/1977   Sportpaleis Ahoy, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Win --   Rhida Hakima KO 2 01/10/1977   Vienna, Austria
Win 15-12-5   Pascal Zito PTS 6 24/09/1977   Vienna, Austria
Win 31-11-4   Clement Tshinza PTS 4 06/08/1977   Deutschlandhalle, Charlottenburg, West Germany

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Davor Pašalić (2 March 2004). "Boksački prvak koji se u svom kafiću tukao 15 puta dnevno" [A boxing champion who used to fight 15 times a day in his bar] (in Croatian). Nacional. Archived from the original on 30 June 2012. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Per-Ake Persson. "Where are they now? Marijan Beneš". Retired Boxers Foundation.
  3. ^ a b ""Bosna", ipak, u Banja Luci". Deutsche Welle (in Bosnian). 17 April 2009. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  4. ^ a b T. Čanak (2004-02-26). "(Bio jednom) jedan šampion" (in Serbian). Glas javnosti.
  5. ^ "Leksikon YU mitologije:Marijan Beneš". Archived from the original on 2007-06-11.
  6. ^ a b c d "Ring zamijenio nalivperom" (in Serbian). Nezavisne novine. 2005-06-12. Archived from the original on 2007-10-01.
  7. ^ "Gilbert Cohen".
  8. ^ "Marijan Beneš osvojio titulu prvaka Evrope". 1979-05-17.
  9. ^ "Životna drama boksačke legende: Ne može se kretati i teško govori". Vecernji List (in Croatian). 11 November 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  10. ^ "U Banjoj Luci umro legendarni boksač Marijan Beneš (67)" (in Croatian). 24 Sata. 4 September 2018. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  11. ^ "BoxRec::Marijan Benes". BoxRec. Retrieved 5 September 2018.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Mate Parlov
  The Best Athlete of Yugoslavia
Succeeded by
Mate Parlov