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Victory Day Fight
Victory Day Fight
The Victory Day Celebration by the Bolshoi Theatre, 1945
Photo by Nikolay Volkov
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Victory Day Fight

On the great day when Nazi Germany was defeated on May 9, 1945, people exhausted by the war gathered by the Bolshoi Theatre. USSR boxing champions, two war participants, intelligence officer Sergey Scherbakov and radio gunner on a long-range bomber aircraft Anatoly Stepanov, performed for them. And Leonid Utyosov gave a concert with an orchestra. The temperature on May 9, 1945 only reached 7. 6°С which explains the unusually warm clothes worn by the athletes and spectators. a boxing match between two war participants, Sergey Scherbakov (on the left) and Anatoly Stepanov (on the right) took place at the Sverdlov square (Teatralnaya square today).

Sergey Scherbakov

June 20, 1918 — January 24,1994

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Sergey Scherbakov, 1940
Photo by Nikolay Volkov

Sergey Scherbakov started boxing at the age of 18. In 1939 he began taking part in the USSR championships where he won prizes several times. However, when the war came in 1941, he voluntarily enlisted in the army.

In the first years of the war, he served in the intelligence. He took part in special sabotage operations behind enemy lines during which he was gravely wounded twice. One of the wounds nearly lead to his leg being amputated below the knee, his ankle bending with difficulty.

Scherbakov talked the surgeon into saving the leg saying that boxing was everything to him. Overcoming severe pains, Sergey continued his training, and in 20 years of his professional career he did not miss a single training session.

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Moscow Boxers before Enlisting in the Army (Scherbakov – second one on the right in the bottom row), 1941
Photo by Nikolay Volkov

From 1944 to 1953 Scherbakov has never been defeated in USSR. He won the tournament ten times in a row.

He was successful abroad, too. He came in second at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki and won a silver medal at the European Championship in 1953.

After 1953, Shcherbakov began coaching and immediately got the position of Head Coach of the USSR. Under his leadership, the team competed at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne and the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

During his professional career Scherbakov participated in 227 boxing matches winning 207 of them (78 of which by knockout).

Outstanding boxer of the USSR, Merited Master of Sport of the USSR, Merited Coach of the USSR are among Sergey Shcherbakov’s honorary titles.

He also received state awards: the Order of the Patriotic War, First Class; the Order of the Badge of Honour; the Medal "For Courage" and the Medal "For Battle Merit".

In 1956, Sergey Scherbakov wrote an autobiography called Boxer’s Notes where he left the Sergey Scherbakov Code for future generations of boxers.

Sergey Scherbakov 3
S. Scherbakov (on the right) — R. Kariste (on the left), 1945
Photo by Nikolay Volkov
Sergey Scherbakov 4
S. Scherbakov — V. Romanov, 1946
Photo by Nikolay Volkov

Anatoly Stepanov

December 24, 1920 — May 3, 2001

Anatoly Stepanov started boxing at the age of 14. Konstantin Gradopolov, Merited Master of Sport of the USSR and Merited Coach of the USSR trained him and his brothers Viktor and Gennady who also became professional boxers..

He joined the army as radio gunner and served on a long-range bomber aircraft for which he later received the Order of the Patriotic War, Second Class.

After the war, in 1945, 1947 and 1948 Stepanov became the silver medallist of the USSR Championship. In 1946 he got the gold medal and became the champion of the USSR in the light heavyweight category after defeating Levon Gudushauri from Tbilisi to whom he had previously lost. Due to his talent and victories Stepanov became Master of Sport of the USSR.

Anatoly started coaching in 1951. From 1970 to 1973 he trained the national boxing team; he led the team at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. From 1973 to 1981 Stepanov was Head coach of the Dynamo all-Soviet sports and fitness society’s central council.

Stepanov was awarded the Merited Coach of the USSR title for outstanding achievements: he trained several boxers known all over the USSR, including Askold Lyasota.

9 May 1945

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Victory Day at the Sverdlov square, 1945
Photo by Nikolay Volkov

At night, on May 8, the German Instrument of Surrender was signed marking the fall of Nazi Germany. The next day, May, 9 the whole country celebrated the Victory day.

The Sverdlov square (Teatralnaya square today) was one of the main locations for festivities in Moscow. The boxing match between Scherbakov and Stepanov took place as well as the famous Leonid Utyosov’s concert.

Memoirs of the events that took place at the Sverdlov square on May 9, 1945.

Festivities continue in the streets of Moscow till late in the evening, Soviet singers are performing. Leonid Utyosov gives a concert with an orchestra at the Sverdlov square.

From a musician's memoirs: " What was happening on stages in those hours was much more than a concert. Singers and musicians were the ones starting the fun. We were surrounded by people with sparkling eyes, we were singing, they were singing, all of Moscow became a singing city. In one corner we heard "Katyusha" and "Paren’ ya molodoy (I’m a young man)" in another It was truly an all-Moscow concert."
From L. Surkova’s memoires: "I cannot describe what was happening at the Teatralnaya square. This was never seen before and will never be seen again. All that had been accumulating in the 4 years, the struggles, the hopes, the disappointments the losses, all was out simultaneously, embraced everyone, amplified. It seems impossible but everyone understood each other as if all the people were related and close."*


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