Every tournament has a dark horse – a competitor who achieves success unexpectedly. In the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix, that man is Davit Kiria.
When the 33-year-old entered the prestigious tournament last year, many kickboxing fans assumed he wouldn’t last beyond the opening stage. But to their surprise, Kiria snuffed out heavy-handed German Enriko “The Hurricane” Kehl via a first-round TKO and etched his name into the semifinals.
Now, the Georgian underdog will meet old foe and #3-ranked featherweight kickboxing contender, Sitthichai “Killer Kid” Sitsongpeenong, in the co-main event of ONE: ONLY THE BRAVE at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday, 28 January – with a place in the Grand Prix Championship Final on the line.
Sitthichai has defeated Kiria on two previous occasions outside of ONE Super Series, and that makes his upcoming bout somewhat of a grudge match. After all, Kiria wants to prove that he belongs with the kickboxing elite. And a win over “Killer Kid” would do that and much more for his young career.
Before he makes the walk for his semifinal showdown with Sitthichai, we get to know Kiria outside of the Circle.
Proud Father Of Two Girls
Kiria is shaping a legacy in the sport of kickboxing, but the Glory Kickboxing and KLF Kickboxing World Champion is also motivated to leave a lasting imprint on the world outside of professional competition.
He and his wife have two daughters, and the kickboxing star looks to them for inspiration whenever it’s time to step into the Circle.
“They are the next generation,” he says. “They have to live successfully in this country [Georgia]. They must be successful. And this is the main reason why I want to dedicate what I’m doing to them.
“I want to do something good for them, for their future. Not only [give them] a good life, but [ensure] that they represent somebody and they are good and humble people.”
An Honorary Citizen
Kiria may be an honorable father, but he’s also an honorary citizen. In 2019, the man who started his martial arts journey by studying karate with a neighbor was awarded the Key to the City of Zugdidi – the place where he was born.
It was a heartfelt moment that represented just how far Kiria had come, not only as a kickboxer but as someone who set out to make a difference in the lives of those around him.
“My dream has always been to represent something positive. That I represent something for myself is very important to me,” he says.
“I have a lot of responsibility in this life, especially in my country and in my hometown, because, for the new generation, I need to be an example.”
Enjoys A Good Laugh
The Georgian native may be all business when he steps into the Circle, but he still knows how to have a good time outside of it – even during training.
He’s so dedicated to winning this tournament that not even some unfavorable weather could stop him.
If he gets past the Sitsongpeenong standout at ONE: ONLY THE BRAVE and then wins the Grand Prix Championship Final, he may shield himself from the celebratory confetti in the same way.
But we think he’ll bask in the shimmering gold flakes as he has the strap wrapped around his waist instead.
Lunches With Legends
It’s no secret that Kiria trained at Holland’s legendary Golden Glory gym, which has produced the likes of Nieky “The Natural” Holzken, Errol “The Bonecrusher” Zimmerman, and the kickboxing icon featured in his Instagram post above – Semmy Schilt.
Schilt has been a longtime mentor to Kiria and often helps him prepare for his upcoming fights.
He credits being able to rub shoulders with legends like Schilt to his longtime trainer, Bachuki Partsvania.
“He brought me to Holland for the first time in 2007, to Golden Glory gym. And we started my professional kickboxing career there,” Kiria says.