Artur Kyshenko sat down with our portal for an exclusive, thorough interview!
Last week Artur Kyshenko got invited for his second time in Hungary where he held a two days seminar, teaching four classes at the Thai Box Academy in Budapest. We had the pleasure to sit down and talk about various topics with the legendary fighter.
Artur Kyshenko on the beginnings, success, Japan, K-1 memories, making weight, injuries and more!
ellenfelem.hu: – So Artur, thanks for taking the time. Let’s start really at the beginning and jump back in time a bit. How did boxing came into your life at such an early age? You were like 11 at that time, right? Why boxing?
Artur Kyshenko: – Well there were two things motivating me – first that it wasn’t a good streat, area where I lived so you had to take care about yourself. Also I have an older brother who we fought each other a lot. One day I got tired and told him I’m going to learn boxing.
e: – How did you find muay thai and when did you decide to try to be a pro athlete?
AK: – I was boxing for a year and I’ve found this small gym, Captain Odessa. I don’t know how to explain but I felt something inside that I really liked so I kept doing it. When I was 14-15 I’ve seen signs that I can make a living out of this. I’ve started to earn money with fighting at 15 when I got some money for pro fights and the gym gave me something too each month. So I said to myself, let’s do this. I’ll put everything into the sport and we’ll see.
e: – Did you just walk into Captain Odessa somehow or a friend told you about it?
AK: – One day we were walking down a street and stumbled upon this small but really nice gym. We got inside and asked if we can watch a little bit. Our first question was how much does the training cost. We were told that it’s free until you’re 16 years old. So we started training there.
e: – Were you surprised how fast success has come? Just a few years in and you already won the IFMA bronze in Kazakhstan and then the rest came?
AK: – Honestly I wasn’t that suprised. I’m crazy when it comes to this. I’m counting how many trainings I’ve missed. In the first few years I missed 2-3 trainings. I had to be really sick to not go. I’ve even changed school to one where I could specialize in sports and train two times a day. So around age 15 I’ve started training twice a day, every day.
e: – Let’s jump a little bit in time. Could you expand a bit on some of the K-1 memories, maybe a funny story you never told before?
AK: – After I won the European K-1 tournament I’ve got the ticket to Japan. It was a cultural shock to say the least. In the first two years when I visited Japan I didn’t really even understand what was going on around me. Fans everywhere, cameras in my face, arenas filled with people. I didn’t understand.
Upon the very first time a girl came up to me and showed a picture about me on her phone I’ve never seen before. It was a bit surreal. I was 19, about 10,000 kilometers away from my home and I had fans there. A girl was showing me this picture I didn’t even know existed.
e: – You fought the who is who in kickboxing – Zambidis when you were only 21, Masato, Holzken, Yodsanklai, Petrosyan, Souwer. It never seemed to phase you at all to face the best. Did you ever get nervous or the 130 amateur fights prepared you mentally for everything?
AK: – Maybe, I don’t know. But I was kind of nervous before the Zambidis fight. Actually I wasn’t even 21 yet. So I’m 20 years old, it’s my second year in Japan. I was a boy, really. I’m waiting ringside and K-1 had these big displays where before every fight they showed highlights.
I was stading there and they were showing me the highlight of Mike Zambidis. Knockout after knockout. I thought: so I have to fight this guy in 3 minutes? I felt big pressure then. But when I got into the ring I’ve forgot about everything. It was all gone. I told myself – I came to fight, came to win. And as with all of my fights I put in maximum effort. Third round, extra round, doesn’t matter I give my everything in order to win.
e: – In 2010 you made the change and moved your training to Mike’s Gym. Why did you choose The Netherlands and Mike’s?
AK: – I wanted to move from Ukraine and my manager at the time suggested to try Mike’s to see if it fits. So we started to work together. In the first few weeks we had many questions for each other obviously. Also I didn’t speak English at that time but we managed to make it work and had a great time together. We’re still friends to this very day with him.
e: – When you got there did you think about that down the line you’ll might need to step in there and fight a teammate as it happened later with Murthel Groenhart?
AK: – Honestly I didn’t think about it much. I’m a fighter inside and outside the ring. I have to be ready for everything. It’s life. If we fight we fight.
e: – It was around the same time, 2010 you started to have difficulties with making 70kg. You were around 24 at this time. Was it a result of your body maturing, different diet/workout/etc?
AK: – It was a mixture of things. At 25-26 my body started to change a bit, I became stronger and also at Mike’s Gym the trainig was different so I started to have more muscles.
e: – How’s your weight nowadays? Do you stay in shape and around 80-85 kilos or go higher than that?
AK: – I get in shape for the fights so I build it up and keep it for 3-4 months. Then I just let it go out of control a bit and enjoy life, my family. When the new season comes I start and get in a good shape in 2-3 months and keep it for another few.
After fights I eat like crazy for about two weeks. Then I dial it back and depending on the schedule I still eat everything but I try to eat less. I mix in some healthier foods, salad and so on. I can go up to around 90 kilos then if a few weeks it’s back to ~87. I can be in top shape at 90 kilograms.
e: – What were the biggest changes you made in the recent years regarding your training, diet or mental game?
AK: – Honestly in the last 5-10 years I tried staying home, train at my gm or in an area where I feel good. I don’t really travel for training now. For a few weeks it’s nice to not have questions, any other issues apart from your training but after a while it drives me crazy. And my preparation is 6 weeks at least.
e: – Isn’t it much harder to shut everything off at home and focus on training or an upcoming fight?
AK: – Sometimes I don’t have time or energy when my son wants to go out and play with me so yes, it can be for sure.
e: – Tell us a bit about your gym. Where and when did you open it? Who do you prepare with for your fights? Do you fly guys in?
AK: – I opened it 6 months ago (~2017 January) in Barcelona, Spain. It’s a public gym so I train with some of my students but recently I had Cedric Doumbé there as well. We have beginner classes, pro fighters, fitness so it’s for everybody.
e: – Do you think your son will follow in your footsteps?
AK: – I don’t know. I don’t push him. He comes to class with me sometimes but for now he doesn’t seem to be into it that much. I’ll teach him something for sure so he’ll be able to take care of himself but I don’t want to push him to become a pro fighter.
e: – Some guys already crossed over to other combat sports like MMA or boxing. Have you thought about trying something else too?
AK: – Around 2008-2010 I was thinking about trying boxing so I asked some great friends of mine, the Lomachenkos. I asked Vasyl and he directed me to papa Lomachenko who explained to me – you’re no. #1 in your sport. You’re no 15 years old, and for another 4-5 years you’ll need to make a name first. It’s a different sport and you’ll might not like it that much after a while. On top of this you’ll have to go back and stand at the back of the line. Also it wouldn’t have been smart financially.
e: – Another thing I wanted to ask you about is injuries. How come we never heard about serious injuries you had? Is it genetics or you have some tricks?
AK: – No, if I have something injured or I feel something I give myself maximum time to recover. I either stop training or let the areas in question rest. I’m really taking recovery very serious. I have a recovery schedule after each fight. Luckily I don’t have to run for money, I have no manager, no coach, so if I really feel tired or something is off I relax and take my time. It’s not about the money but being number one.
e: – How do you see the future of kickboxing?
AK: – I think Japan is coming back. The scene is getting stronger and in 3-4 years it’s going to be really at the top again.
e: – What’s the next step? Where can fans see you fight next time?
AK: – Well there’s a contract waiting for me at home right now that I have to sign. It’s for a fight in Sweden at 25 November. There’s some talk about fighting in Australia too and soon I’ll travel to China and sit down with Kunlun to talk about contracts, the next fight and so on.
Thanks for the interview! Wishing you all the best inside and outside the ring. Hope to see you next year around for the next seminar!
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