When Mladen Steko got back into his car on the evening of December 3, 2011, he heard the bells of St. Stephen’s Church ring. What he didn’t know then, couldn’t do: It was something like a final escort, the death knell for a strong man with a very fragile soul. “I will never forget this moment. In retrospect it was like a sign from above,” Steko told AZ.
Kabashi didn’t open the door
Before that, he, the most successful kickboxing trainer in the world, rang the bell on the door leg of his protégé, the Thai boxing legend Besim Kabashi, by storm. But the 35-year-old doesn’t open it. He never opened it again. During the night the heavyweight world champion was found motionless and unconscious in his apartment in Berg am Laim, he was barely breathing. Then on December 4th in the hospital the heart of this fighting machine beat.
“He showed up for training, which he didn’t have. Other fighters like Florian Pavic informed me that they could get Besim a text message that he ‘doesn’t want to go on anymore’,” said Steko. The next day the worst came true of all fears. Kabashi, who was supposed to fight the main fight on December 16 in Circus Krone on Sat.1, was dead.
Trainer Steko: “One of the blackest days of my life”
“I got the call from one of his best friends that Besim died. It was one of the blackest days of my life. I had to nibble on it for a long time. One blames oneself for not being able to look into him,” said Steko On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Kabashi’s death: “But I can’t say more about the situations in which he died. I just don’t know.”
The autopsy revealed that Kabashi, who had been on antidepressants for a long time, had died of a pill overdose – the police confirmed at the time. “Brain failure due to drug abuse” was announced as the cause of death.
Steko: “He was just too strong to show weakness”
Heavy shadows lay on Kabashi’s soul back then, but he didn’t let anyone take a look inside him. “I’ve now spent more time with him than my wife, but he never showed a hint of weakness. He was just too proud to show weakness to the outside world,” said Steko.
On December 9, 2011, a court was also due to decide whether Kabashi should be detained. In 2010 he beat up a waiter while drunk at the Oktoberfest. Kabashi is deeply ashamed of his dropouts. “In his private life he was such an incredibly nice guy. The people who only knew him privately couldn’t believe it when they saw him as a fighter in the ring,” said Steko, “I always have several minutes before a fight needed to get him down. He was always on 100, like a wild bull. He was a phenomenon. “
For his homeland Kosovo he was a national hero
Under war a national hero in his native Kosovo. After being laid out in the Aetas funeral home in Munich, where more than 600 people say goodbye, Kabashi’s body was transferred to his homeland. There he was laid out in a school in his native Istok.
In the morning the gates opened for the mourners, but at 3 p.m. there was still a long line of people who wanted to say goodbye in front of the school. “It was unbelievable. There were 10,000 mourners, television, politicians, ministers. They were all devastated,” said Steko, who attended both ceremonies.
Kabashi was a wonderful person … and very sensitive
The people of this being see that with their own eyes.
“He was a great fighter and an even better person,” said kickboxing queen Christine Theiss at the time of the AZ: “But I always said that Besim is the most sensitive of us all.”
A sane soul, a fragile soul in a mountain from a man who was too proud to admit weakness. “When I think of Besim, I think of a wonderful person, everything else is secondary,” said Steko, “and that’s how he should be remembered. That’s how I remember him.”
Editor’s note: As a rule, AZ does not report suicides – unless the crime is given special attention. Thoughts of suicide are often a result of mental illness. The latter can be alleviated and cured with professional help. Anyone looking for help, including as a relative, can find it at the telephone counseling: 0800–111 0 111 and 0800–111 0 222. The advisors are available around the clock, every call is free.