Author: Sanan SHAFIZADE
One of the memorable sportive events of January 2023 was the visit of one of the world's best-known kickboxers, winner of the One Championship World Grand Prix and absolute lightweight champion Chingiz Allazov to Baku.
The ethnic Azerbaijani athlete's popularity has grown in recent years. Allazov’s consecutive victories have made him one of the strongest kickboxers in the world. His last major victory was on January 15 in Thailand, when Allazov defeated the famous Thai kickboxer Superbone Singha Mawynn at ONE Fight Night tournament. After which the 70.3kg championship belt went to Chingiz.
We met with Chingiz ALLAZOV during his stay in Baku and asked him a few questions.
"First of all, congratulations on your big win. The Indian media has praised your victory over your Thai opponent as the beginning of new era in your career. Do you agree?"
"Superbon Singha Mawynn is a very strong athlete with a lot of experience and good technique. He is considered a legend in Thailand. His brilliant career has contributed a lot to the rise of kickboxing to prominence. Most people have been sceptical about my success. It's quite normal. To defeat Superbon is a historic success. Now just imagine that an Azerbaijani athlete Chingiz Allazov is at the top list in rankings. I am the first among all the fighters. But I still need to maintain this accomplishment."
"You beat Superbon by knockout in the second round. Was that a tactical move or did you feel he lost control of the situation?"
"It is very difficult to beat a fighter like Superbon in Thailand. And we thought about it with the trainers. Our goal was only to get a knockout. Other tactics would not have been successful. I was on the attack from the first minute. Consecutive punches have been in line with my tactic. A knockout means a flawless win. That was all we needed."
"You are currently the strongest athlete in the rankings. Who will be your opponent in your next fight?"
"I don’t know yet. My next fight is expected in 7-8 months. I don't care about the identity of my opponent. The holder of the championship must be ready to fight any opponent. He can be an Armenian Marat Grigorian. It is important to keep the good shape. I am ready for the fight any time, because I want to keep my title."
"You visit Azerbaijan very rarely. Why?"
"Azerbaijan is my homeland. I am proud to be an Azerbaijani. I have visited Azerbaijan three times so far. I constantly feel the support of my country. In recent years, the visits have been impossible due to the pandemic. I've been living in Belarus for many years. Plus, the life of an athlete is being on travels like constantly. We often visit Thailand for training. That's why it is difficult to find an opportunity to visit Azerbaijan. But now you will see me often."
"Which country do you currently represent internationally?"
"I represent Azerbaijan and Belarus. I have been living in Belarus since childhood. But I am thinking about living in Azerbaijan in the future. I even have a house in Baku. I want to apply for citizenship soon. I will be proud to have an Azerbaijani passport. I never forget my homeland. I hold the flag of Azerbaijan during most of my fights."
"How do you find the state of professional kickboxing in Azerbaijan?"
"Sport is developing in Azerbaijan. The state provides tremendous support to this area, also solving the social problems. You have athletes who can be successful in amateur sport. That is why they do not raise to the level of professionals. Professional kickboxing is not developed in Azerbaijan. There are good athletes, but few coaches in this field. I am always ready to help. I have a gym in Belarus. And I am ready to support Azerbaijani athletes, if necessary. I am always ready to share my experience. We should support each other to have strong athletes in the future."
"MMA is very popular as a mixed martial art. Have you thought about shifting to MMA?"
"I have. You may be right. They pay a lot of money in MMA, too. But I am happy to be a One Championship champion, to be honest. In recent years, One Championship has partnered with the world's leading television channels. Within a year our fights have been watched by over 200 million people. Nowadays these fights are competing in the media world with such gigantic rivals as Champions League in football or Formula 1. I have no intention of moving to another sport. Each of them has their own leaders and champions. I am happy with my achievements in professional kickboxing and I want to keep them. Of course, I need to keep going, my victories must continue."
"Which Azerbaijani athlete's fighting style do you like best?"
"We have Alim Nabiyev, Khayal Janiyev and Parviz Abdullayev. Each of them represents the Azerbaijani sport proudly. I do not want to single out any one of them. Each athlete is dear to me as long as he raises the Azerbaijani flag.
“Sometimes a tournament without a serious reputation is presented as a major event. Some athletes are deliberately given fake titles. The public community and fans should be able to distinguish a champion from a fake athlete. This is a common practice in professional sport. Nowadays it is easy to get information about any fight online.”
"Do you think of becoming a promoter or coach after your sporting career is over?"
"I'm at the peak of my career now. I have never thought about it. I would like to have a training gym in Baku, to train teenagers and young people. Belarus holds a big festival once a year attended by some 2,000 athletes. I would like to hold big sports festivals in Baku. To become a coach is not for everyone. That is why it is difficult to say anything specific in advance."
"Thank you for being with us today. We wish you more victories and success!"