Zhora Akopyan: ‘I Am Very Proud to Represent My Beloved Country Armenia!’

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YEREVAN/MINSK — Zhora Akopyan, a 23-year-old from Minsk, is a Thai boxing and kickboxing world champion among professionals. He was born in the city of Akhalkalaki (Georgia). When he was 5 years old, the family moved to the Belarusian city of Polotsk. He has been was fond of martial arts since childhood and his uncle took him to the Polotsk kickboxing and Thai boxing hall to the coach Anatoly Seledevsky.

In 2013, four years after starting sports, Zhora won the first championship of the Republic of Belarus among juniors in Thai boxing. In 2014, he repeated this success and flew to the world championship in Malaysia, where he also became the champion. Three months later, he went to the European Championship in Poland and again became the winner. In recent years, he has given preference to a professional career. Zhora spent his first professional fights in the city of Molodechno against Belarusian athletes. In 2019 in Odessa in the FEA WORLD GP tournament Zhora won the title of world champion among professionals in weight up to 70 kg. In Minsk, Zhora plays in the world famous Gridin Gym team, as well as with the Multi Fight Club organization, which brings together all good Armenian fighters from all over the world.

Zhora, after the match, how is the pain?

It hurts for a fighter, especially after a fight, when the adrenaline goes down, you feel every muscle in your body, namely after a hard fight. From the outside it may not look so painful, but believe me, when you miss a tight blow, it takes a few seconds for the stars from appearing in front of your eyes.

You have been involved in sports since childhood – what was your strongest motivation?

The strongest motivation for me was and remains so now: it is to be better and stronger than someone else, I was taught from childhood that I should win and nothing more, and I try to stick to it!

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Is it true that Thai boxing is best learned from Thai trainers?

No, that’s not true, at least for me. Thank God, I found my coach, my man, whom I trust completely, Andrey Sergeevich Gridin, the trainer to whom people fly from different countries in order to learn all the basics of Thai boxing and kickboxing. Every fighter knows him, and I’ll tell you this, if I knew that there is someone better in this business than him, then I would hardly have trained with him until now.

You have been living in Belarus since the age of five. Do you keep in touch with your place of birth?

Yes, of course, I am constantly in touch with my relatives, in Akhalkalaki. I have a lot of good guys who constantly support me before my fights, I try to go there when I can, there is completely different weather, different food, different taste, and completely different concepts, in the near future I want to conduct my training there for battle.

You are also competing under the flag of Armenia and have become a member of a large Armenian fighting family.

I am very proud to represent my beloved country Armenia. It is an honor for me. I am also proud that I was born an Armenian, soon it will be a year since I signed up with Multi Fight Club, I am glad to represent this organization, this is great because our famous fighters such as Giorgio Petrosyan, Harut Grigorian, Gago Drago, etc., and when we train and spend time together, it energizes you even more, and of course I want to wish every Armenian fighter to train with them somehow!

What other athletes of Armenian descent in Belarus?

You know, there are a lot of Armenians in Belarus, and you can’t keep track of everyone, I know that there are good wrestlers, football players, also kickboxers and, in principle, a lot of creative people, so our athletes do not go unnoticed here. I had a fight in Minsk in February and a lot of Armenians came to it to support me. I thank them very much!

Do you speak Armenian and what Armenian traditions do you have in your family?

I do speak Armenian, but since I was born in Akhalkalaki, it can be difficult for me to make out what they talk about in Yerevan; they are completely different dialects and some words. It’s a matter of time, everyone in my family also speaks Armenian. My family always supports Armenian traditions, Armenian holidays. I will not single out something, I will say that we do not miss significant dates and events for the Armenian people!

What would you like to wish Armenian readers all over the world?

First of all, I want to wish everyone health in this difficult time, I also want to wish everyone a peaceful sky above their heads and justice in everything, and no matter how the situation develops, I know that we are Armenians, a strong people, and together we will overcome everything!

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