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World Boxing Federation People: Jean-Marcel Nartz
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FEATURE   Photo: World Boxing Federation (WBF) Vice President Jean-Marcel Nartz, with "The Greatest of All Time", Muhammad Ali.

As is the case with any organization, effective and professional team-work behind the scenes is necessary to make the World Boxing Federation (WBF) run as smoothly as possible. Thankfully, the WBF has been able to attract a line-up of very astute boxing personalities to make sure of this.

Most people will agree that boxing should mainly be about the boxers. They deserve the spotlight and the accolades more than anyone, but it is still a fact that the sport needs qualified and capable people working behind the scenes to make things happen.

In the WBF People feature-series, we try to shed some light on the men and women who makes the World Boxing Federation what it is. WBF Vice President Jean-Marcel Nartz from Germany, a very well-known and respected person in the sport, is next in line.



Jean-Marcel Nartz was born in Saint-Die, France in 1946. At the age of two he went to Hamburg, Germany to live with his grandparents, and four years later he moved to Cologne to reunite with his mother and stepfather, who was an electrician for engineering company Siemens.

The stepfathers job as an electrician would turn out to be the reason Jean-Marcel got interested in boxing, as he was often hired to do the lighting for big professional shows in Cologne, Dusseldorf and Dortmund. He brought the young boy along, and a life-long relationship was born.

My stepfather took me to all these shows, and I got to see fights with famous German boxers such as Peter Muller, Bubi Scholz, Heinz Neuhaus, Erich Schoeppner and Karl Mildenberger”, explains Nartz. “Boxing soon became my life, and I started reading everything I could get my hands on.”

Jean-Marcel never boxed competitively himself, because, as he puts it, he didn't have the talent for it, but he did train boxing. Not surprisingly, being a young man in the sixties and seventies, his boxing idol was Muhammad Ali, whom he would later have the pleasure of meeting.

He started working as a chef from age fifteen, a job he would hold for thirty years in various cities. From 1981 to 1991 Nartz was a Head Chef, but boxing was always his main passion. So when he moved to London in 1967, he did little else than cook and watch fights.

In London, a city he would call his home for the next five years, promotions took place several times each week, and Nartz went to all he could. Venues such as York Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Wembley Arena quickly became his stomping grounds.

During his time in London he befriended legendary British promoter Mickey Duff, who became his mentor and taught Jean-Marcel everything he needed to know to become a good matchmaker and technical director for shows.

In 1973 Nartz returned to Germany. While he continued working in the kitchens of nice restaurants, the experiences he gathered in London, and the knowledge he obtained from Mr. Duff, eventually lead to matchmaking and technical director jobs with Sauerland Event and later Universum Box Promotion.

In fact, it was Nartz who enticed, and helped, Hall-of-Fame promoter Wilfried Sauerland, who at the time had done just one previous show in Lusaka on request of the Zambian government with whom he was in business, to kick-start professional boxing in Germany.

Eventually, he established himself as one of the most respected and accomplished matchmakers in Europe, and was involved in some of the biggest fights, with some of the biggest names. A dream career for someone who was a boxing-fan more or less his whole life.

When he eventually decided to retire from being a matchmaker and technical director, in 2009, he still had a desire to stay in boxing. In an interview a few years ago, Nartz explained:

After I finished my contract with Universum Box Promotion I wanted to still be involved with boxing, but at the same time not have to travel too much and spend many weeks away from home.

When I met (WBF President) Howard Goldberg in 2009 in Dessau, we had a nice discussion and decided to do something positive for boxing, and the Federation looked honest to me, and the potential also looked very interesting.

So, it was a good fit, and we build up the organization with the promise of always being straight forward and honest.”

Nartz accepted to join the WBF as a board member after that meeting with Goldberg in 2009, and became Vice President the following year. Now, just a few months away from his 72nd birthday, he is still going strong and also enjoys working as a very capable judge for WBF championship fights.

We are doing some good fights with the WBF”, says Nartz. “We are always improving, and I think that if only television would realize that the WBF is honest, in contrast to the so-called bigger organizations who is not doing a very good job sporting-wise, it would be easier for us to compete with them.”

Never a fighter inside the ring, he is always a fighter outside the ring and very much willing to continue the fight to advance the WBF, saying:

I hope to remain fit for a long time, and to be able to continue doing some good things for the WBF. The WBF is in my heart!”

Asked how he would like to be remembered, once he do decide to call it a day, he is quite blunt when stating:

I was never a good diplomat, but all my friends, and even my enemies, knows that I am always straight and fair.”

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