By: Ermira Babamusta, New York
Boxer Elvir Muriqi, also known as “The Kosovo Kid” was born in Peja, Kosovo on April 1979. He moved to New York in 1996 to be a professional boxer. His undeniable talent made him a hit from the beginning of his career, earning respect as the best-known boxer in America and in Europe. Elvir Muriqi has won several titles including the prestigious Intercontinental Championship at the New York Golden Gloves in 1998, NABC World Title in 2004 in Kosovo and American Title in 2009 in North Carolina for NABC (North American Boxing Championship). Muriqi has won the title as Best Top Ten in the World and aims to win the World Championship title.
Elvir Muriqi has dominated the ring for the past ten years and he proved his worth at an international level as one of the best boxers in the world. Elvir Muriqi has an outstanding record in boxing with 40 wins, 5 losses (revenged 2 losses) and 24 knockouts. Elvir Muriqi has been preparing himself for the world title championship and is determined to reach his dream.
Early Life: From Kosovo to New York
Born on April 1979, in Peja, Kosovo, to Albanian parents Ramiz and Rabije Muriqi. Elvir Muriqi excelled in sports as a kid including karate, soccer, boxing, kickboxing, tennis and gymnastics. Elvir began boxing at age 9 for two years, then he started kickboxing at age 11 for five years. At age 17 he returned to his passion, boxing.
“I have always had a passion for sports. Everything I did, I had to be the best at it. Even in school I was the man since 6th grade. I grew up being a leader and everyone would listen to me, including my brothers and cousins.”
“Growing up I used to get in trouble a lot and would fight in the streets. I wanted to be known as the tough kid around. My dad was one of the toughest dads, I looked up to him. My dad send me to the gym. I did group sports like soccer. I was good at fighting that’s why I stuck with it. When I started boxing, I saw the golden gloves and the world champion. I have so much passion for boxing and I said I will do whatever it takes to be the best,” said Elvir Muriqi.
Elvir’s family has been very supportive of his ambitions and his lifelong dream to become a world champion. Elvir Muriqi prides that he is Albanian and incorporates the traditional beliefs of honor, respect and value for elders and family, that gave him the foundation to grow strong and maintain focus since early on in life.
“I appreciate that my parents were tough on us while growing up and taught us the right values. I value how much respect we have when talking to the elders, parents or the neighbors. Kids nowadays talk back to their parents or don’t listen. I learned from my Albanian culture and my parents the value of respecting others, to care, to show respect for our family, especially our elders.”
“Growing up in Kosovo we had it good. My dad wanted me to follow my dream and he wanted me to become a world champion one day. That’s why I never gave up on that. Boxing has been a passion I have always had since I was a little kid. I would train a lot and if I took a month off my family would say why are you giving up. As a kid you go through different stages and my family always kept my grounded. I would always hang out with the trouble kids. If it weren’t for boxing I would have been in a lot of trouble as a teenager. Boxing kept me grounded,” said Elvir Muriqi.
At age 17 Elvir Muriqi moved to the Bronx, New York on May 1996. Already a winner in Kosovo, when in US Elvir began training hard. In US Muriqi started winning right away and got attention as an outstanding kickboxer.
“Coming to America I didn’t speak a word in English. I concentrated training in kickboxing. A month later I started fighting as amateur. After a few wins I turned to professional boxing.”
Kickboxing Amateur Championships
Elvir Muriqi is a world champion kickboxer. In 1995 he entered the amateur open competition ages 15-18, held in Peja, Kosovo. He won 1st place for the championship in Kosovo.
In 1997 Elvir Muriqi won the Tristate Championship held in Long Island, US. His next win as amateur kickboxer is the East Coast Championship in 1997, which he won in the 2nd round.
Elvir Muriqi resonated strongly with the European market, and he had plenty of interest in America as well. As an outstanding boxer Elvir Muriqi quickly rose to be a top fighter, and became a big-name international recognition.
American Championship: Muriqi wins Golden Gloves Intercontinental Title
Elvir Muriqi turned professional boxer in New York and trained with Ray Palillo during his amateur career in 1997. In 1998 Muriqi entered the biggest boxing tournament held at the MadisonSquareGarden in NY, USA to compete for the Golden Gloves. Elvir Muriqi is the first Albanian professional boxer to win New York Golden Gloves on April 3, 1998. Muriqi impressed on the ring with 4 sensational wins to get to the final round. Hall of Fame boxing trainer and the most noted boxing commentator Gil Clancy commented at the big night about Elvir Muriqi saying that “a star is born”.
“I started my professional career in US during war time in Kosovo. I moved up in ranking really quickly. I still remember today Gil Clancy, the great commentator of the Golden Gloves at the Madison Square Garden saying “A Star is Born”. I looked impressive on the finals. I won 4 fights to get to the final match, 39 people in my weight division. Despite spraining my ankle the first night I still went on and kept fighting. I won the tournament of Golden Gloves when I was only 18 years old, without too many amateur fights prior to that,” said Elvir Muriqi.
Having proved himself at the Golden Gloves, Elvir Muriqi received several offers, including Magic Johnson. He signed with the Italians for 7.5 years, Frank Locascio and his father Joe Locascio. Elvir Muriqi trained professionally from 1998 – 2004 with the reputable and successful trainer, Teddy Atlas. Teddy has worked with great fighters including Mike Tyson, Simon Brown, Shannon Briggs and Michael Moorer. Muriqi has tremendous ability and he further improved as a fighter with his trainer Teddy Atlas, who motivated him to be not just a better fighter, but also a better person.
“When I turned pro it was a big plus having Teddy on my side. He is one of the biggest trainers in the world. I had 6 good years with Teddy. I didn’t go to college, but being with Teddy I learned a lot. He always talked to me everyday about life, not just boxing and he motivated me to be better. It felt great to have him part of my life. Those six years he taught me everything,” said Elvir Muriqi.
Muriqi vs. Ahmad: Muriqi Best Fighter of the Year
2002 was a big year for Elvir Muriqi. On July 23, 2002 he had his first big fight on ESPN, fighting for the Top Ten World Title in the world. Muriqi (23-1) took on Sam Ahmad (16-2) in New Rochelle, New York. Elvir Muriqi came on top as the winner of the Best Fighter of the Year. From all the fights in 2002 this was the best fight of the year.
“2002 was a big step for me, fighting Sam Ahmad. My first big fight on ESPN. Whoever wins will be top ten in the world. That night I got dropped four times and I dropped him 3 times. I knocked him out at the end of 3rd round. I won the fight, even though I got dropped 4. It was one of the best fights of the year by ESPN. This is a proud moment in my career. I came on top and won the fight that moved me to the top be on top 10 in the world,” said boxer Elvir Muriqi.
Elvir Muriqi was a favorite and retained his title. He went on to win 8 more matches with Teddy Atlas. After taking a break from his trainer, Muriqi won two more fights on his own.
In 2004 Elvir Muriqi signed with Don King and was promoted by Star Boxing. Elvir Muriqi became number 5 in the world in WBC (World Boxing Council), one of four major organizations recognized by the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF).
On August 14, 2004 Elvir Muriqi (30-1) fought against Tony Menefee in Prishtina, Kosovo and won. On October 2, 2004 Muriqi fought against Danny Santiago at the MadisonSquareGarden in New York and lost.
In 2005 Elvir Muriqi fought against Russian boxer Oleksandr Garashchenko at the MadisonSquareGarden and lost. Muriqi fought again with Garashchenko in Kosovo on April 2009 and won. After that he fought two additional fights and won.
“When I fought in Madison Square Garden I won the fight. They took the point off and made me wait 12 hours without eating. I was fighting at 12:30 am. No matter what I still thought I won the fight.” explained Elvir Muriqi.
In 2005 Elvir Muriqi went to Don King training camp to prepare with Colin Morgan for an up and coming fight. Muriqi won two fights with King. After that he trained with Colin Morgan. In 2006 Muriqi re-signed with Star Boxing and after 4 wins he was asked to fight with amateur champion Antonio Tarver.
Muriqi vs. Tarver
On April 2, 2007 Elvir Muriqi was scheduled to fight his biggest fight of his career against Antonio Tarver in Atlantic City for the IBO Lightweight title. The fight was pushed to June 9, 2017 at Hartford, Connecticut. Antonio Tarver a.k.a. “The Magic Man” is the winner of bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games and gold medal for the 1995 World Amateur Boxing Championship in Berlin. In 2006, Tarver starred as Mason “The Line” Dixon, the heavyweight champion in the film Rocky Balboa.
Elvir Muriqi fought as the main event on Showtime at the ConnecticutConvention Center. He gave an even fight and most people thought that he won it. By a majority decision the fight was given to Tarver. 2 judges had the fight for Tarver by 1 point (115-113) and 1 had the fight draw (114-114).
“I trained hard for this fight. I knew it was not going to be easy. I was very excited that I was offered a big fight with Antonio Tarver, the best amateur boxer America ever had. A lot of people couldn’t believe that I was fighting him. If they gave me the fight that I won, it would be history for me and Albanians. I did win the fight, but they gave the fight to him. I know I won 8 rounds out of 12 rounds,” stated Elvir Muriqi.
Elvir Muriqi became a mainstream celebrity after this historic fight. Muriqi was unstoppable and his confidence skyrocketed that night. He proved that he was the best fighter and he belonged with the best and was feared by other contenders. With the Tarver fight Muriqi showed that he deserved his spot on HBO and Showtime. 8 months later Elvir Muriqi fought another fight in January 2008 (against Jameel Wilson) and won.
Muriqi vs. Woods: IBF Title Eliminator
On February 14, 2009 Elvir Muriqi returned to the ring and fought at the Valentine’s Massacre Fight for the IBF Lightweight Title Eliminator against Clinton Woods at Hotel DeFrance, in Jersey, Channel Islands (between England and France). This was a close fight, and it was given to Woods.
“Fighting against Tarver made my career harder. It showed the world that I am one of the best, but other fighters did not want to risk anymore. People did not want to fight me. That fight helped me to tell that world that I am a true contender, a good fighter. But at the same time no one wanted to fight me after that. After winning 1 fight after that, I got to fight in the Jersey Islands for the 2009 Title Eliminator. I got there three days before the fight. It was a close fight,” said Elvir Muriqi.
Muriqi vs. Taylor: Muriqi wins American Title
On October 10, 2009 Elvir Muriqi wins America’s championship against Tiwon Taylor. Muriqi won 2nd against Tiwon Taylor for the American title and he’s been winning every fight that followed. After he won against the Russian fighter in Kosovo Elvir Muriqi won against Daniel Judah in 2010 in Brooklyn, followed by two wins in Michigan against Chris Grays and Paul Vasquez. After wining 2nd round knock out in Michigan, Elvir Muriqi fought on March 15, 2013 in New Jersey and he won, 8 round decisions.
“I have been coming out of top ten best fighters in the world and being back in the top ten for the last ten years. I made over $ 100,000. I was opened the door to make millions. I always thought I made the fight but they never gave me the fight. Now I have 40 wins 5 losses in my career, 24 knockouts. I revenged two losses,” said boxing champion Elvir Muriqi.
Boxing World Title Fights
Full of ambition and eager to take on the world, Elvir Muriqi has the drive and dedication to reach his goals and aspirations. His lifelong dream is to become a world champion.
“It’s been my goal since a little kid to one day become a world champion. When I was 10 years old I went to watch armature boxing in Gjakova and I saw Aziz Saliu surrounded by the crowd cheering and applauding him. That day I told myself I want to be a champion and be known. I believe I have it in me that one day I will be the world champion,” stated Elvir Muriqi.
In August 14, 2004 Elvir Muriqi won the World Title in Kosovo for NABC (North American Boxing Championship). On February 19, 2009 Elvir Muriqi fought in UK for the Title Eliminator against Clinton Woods, IBF boxer, which Woods won.
For the past ten years of his successful career, Elvir Muriqi has maintained the spot as the Best Top Ten Boxers in the world.
On January 31, 2014 Elvir Muriqi of New York will fight on the world stage against Hungarian boxer Zsolt Erdei in a ten round fight as the main event of the Super Brawl for the light heavyweight category. The big fight will be featured on ESPN, Friday Night Fights and is taking place at the Richard Codey Arena in New Jersey.