Kalle and Robert Helenius say boxing team cheated them for years.
Kalle Helenius, the father and coach of boxer Robert Helenius, went through the full spectrum of emotions while giving a press conference at a boxing gym in Porvoo.
The first emotion was anger.
“These years with Sauerland have been absolute hell,” Kalle Helenius said and loaded quite a shower of accusations against his son’s German boxing stable.
According to the father, Sauerland has trained his son wrong. This has resulted in injuries and the rehabilitation has not been appropriate. Helenius has been forced to fight with an injured arm, contracts have been made deceitfully and great amount of money has not been paid. In addition, Helenius has not been insured at all, but the team has “lent” him money to pay for the medical bills.
“Robert owes the team 50,000 euros,” lists the father.
Now they have cut themselves off from the German team. The Heleniuses would like to get rid of the team altogether, but Sauerland will not allow that. According to Kalle Helenius, the team says it owns the rights to the Finn for three more years. “On Monday I’ll go to the Porvoo police station and file a report on them. We want a court ruling that gives Robert a right to practise his profession,” Kalle Helenius said.
The heaviest accusation of the Heleniuses’ is that in 2007 Sauerland would have cheated Robert Helenius at the signing of the agreement. According to the father, his son did not know what kind of a contract he was signing.
“The contract that [Sports Director of Sauerland] Hagen Doering brought first to Helsinki was wonderful. It could not have been better.”
After that Robert Helenius travelled alone to Germany to sign the contract. According to Kalle Helenius, Sauerland then introduced a new text that the young Finn signed without reading.
“There were enormous changes in it. The sums for the fights had been cut to half of the original. Robert made the mistake of his life by signing it without reading it through.” The father gives one example of the sums: from the fight against ex-champion Lamon Brewster Helenius earned 15,000 euros, Brewster 50,000. In addition, the contract had a section that forbade Helenius from telling anyone about the details.
“It took three years before he told me,” the father said.
After that, emotions took over. Every now and again the father had to stop his speech and remain silent for long periods of time.
“After that, it has been absolute hell. A battle with Sauerland.” Robert Helenius was supposed to be present at the press conference as well, but because of a cancelled flight he was in Åland.
He took part in the press conference by phone.
“I was 23 or 24 when I signed the deal. I was so green with those matters. They had the opportunity to take advantage of me,” he said.
The last few years of Helenius have been filled with injuries that have ruined many fights. “They just punched the bag in the good old East Germany style, they had too much speed,” Helenius senior stated, blaming the training. They even tied the hand wraps wrong before the fights.
“Coach [Georg] Bramowski could neither train nor tie.” When the ligament from Helenius’s right shoulder snapped, the doctor of Sauerland said that it “is broken, but he can fight”. “When Robert informed coach Ulli Wegner, his response was ‘Quit complaining’.”
Now that he has shared what was on his mind, the elder Helenius is visibly relieved. “I have been threatened with trials and lawyers all Christmas. I hope that they sue me, because then it would be a huge media event in Germany.”
“I hear Nisse Sauerland [the owner of the team] is coming with two gorillas to talk some sense into pappy Helenius. I welcome them.” According to Kalle Helenius, people from Wladimir Klitschko’s team have contacted them.
“We trust that there will be a fight in Finland in 2015.”
Sauerland defends itself
The CEO of Sauerland Chris Meyer answered the accusations by email.
1. Sauerland has a contract with Robert Helenius for two years. Helenius’s injuries have extended the contract.
The fight that was supposed to take place in March 2014 will be cancelled “because of the recent developments”, but the stable is willing to offer Helenius new fights.
2. The contract that Helenius signed was in German, but the attachments included “a certified Finnish translation”. The offer that Hagen Doering brought was exactly similar to the one signed by Helenius
3. The team has given Helenius a loan to pay for his family’s expenses. The team has done this in “good faith” and expects to be paid back when he fights for the next time. The money has not been for medical expenses, because Helenius has had and insurance just like all boxers have. Sauerland has paid for his expenses during the convalescence. The team has pointed out to Helenius that he is responsible for paying taxes himself.
4. Sauerland wants to have a conversation with Helenius about his career in the near future. With the help of Sauerland Helenius was made into one of the best heavyweights in the world. The team has no understanding for people surrounding Robert that are making untrue claims in the public.
Esa Lilja – HS
© HELSINGIN SANOMAT