Georgiy Kichigin wants to uplift his country, and he has the opportunity to achieve that on Friday, 8 March.
It is a difficult task for his first promotional appearance, but the Almaty, Kazakhstan resident has overcome countless trials and tribulations throughout his life.
Before he makes his highly anticipated ONE debut at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium, learn more about the man known as “Knight.”
A Tragic Childhood
Born in March 1989 in Atyrau, Kazakhstan, a small city located at the mouth of the Ural River, Kichigin grew up in a poor family. He was raised with two brothers and three sisters.
Most of his siblings later got involved in the martial arts, but nothing in their early childhood hinted at their future in the ring.
“I was an ordinary child — not too bright, not too sporty,” he says. “I was a kid like any other.”
The young Kazakh’s life completely changed in the years to come, however. One of his sisters passed away in a drowning incident, and his father unexpectedly died soon thereafter.
“I was only 10 years old. It was a real shock for all of us,” he explains. “It was a great loss for me, and very difficult to bear.”
Anna Azovskaya — the matriarch of the family — immediately sprung into action to take care of her five children. Unfortunately, she lost her parents at a young age, too.
“Our mother had no one to turn to when we lost dad, so she joined the military on a contract in order to provide for us,” Kichigin continues. “We moved to the Stavropol region in Russia, looking for better life.”
From Bullied Victim To Martial Artist
Growing up in Stavropol during the 90s was extremely challenging.
With the collapse of the USSR came inflation, crime, and uncertainty. The Kichigin family was not immune to that, and the siblings were often the target of bullies.
“We were picked on by other kids and got into fights, but we were not that strong,” the Kazakh recalls.
“That’s when our mom told us that we didn’t have a father to protect us, so we had to learn how to fight and stand up for ourselves.”
Together with his brothers Grigoriy and Viktor, Kichigin watched martial arts films and PRIDE DVDs.
“I really liked moves with Bruce Lee and other actions stars, but none of them were my role model,” he says. “I was more impressed with Fedor Emelianenko and other MMA fighters.”
The boys practiced some techniques they had seen from the movies and mixed martial arts events, and soon properly trained in Army Hand-To-Hand Combat.
A Brother’s Love
Despite experiencing some turbulent periods in his life, Kichigin never had to look far for inspiration. Aside from Emelianenko, he looked up to his older brother, Grigoriy.
Grigoriy, who is two years his elder, was a highly respected athlete. The talented sambo practitioner and army officer compiled a 12-5 mixed martial arts record during a three-year stint.
Following his last bout in December 2016, a first-round submission victory, he retired from the sport.
Kichigin was always influenced by his brother. In fact, he was encouraged by Grigoriy to learn sambo, join the military, and forge a mixed martial arts career.
In many ways, he filled the void left by his father’s untimely death.
“Grigoriy was my true role model when I was growing up,” Kichigin confesses.
“He made me go professional, made me stick with my training, and supported me all the way. I am where I am thanks to my brother.
“I was just growing up without my father, so my elder brother’s achievements influenced me in a great way.”
World Title Aspirations
While serving in the military, Kichigin became a decorated athlete.
He became a Master Of Sport in Army Hand-To-Hand Combat, as well as a Military Forces Champion and an Airborne Forces Champion.
In December 2012, the Kazakh officially launched his mixed martial arts career and emulated that title-winning success. The highlight came in May 2017, when he defeated Gadzhimurad Khiramagomedov via split decision to claim the FNG Welterweight Championship.
However, this coming Friday, “Knight” could obtain his greatest achievement yet when he meets Kadestam for the ONE Welterweight World Championship in Myanmar.
Should he strike gold, he plans to use his status to help out the people in his homeland.
“If I become a champion, I want to do more charity work,” he says. “I grew up in a poor family, and there are many disadvantaged families in Kazakhstan who need help.”