Ermes Di Francesca may not be a household name, but he has been a crucial part of Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan’s resurgence and ONE Championship success.
At ONE: CENTURY PART II in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October, the kickboxing superstar will head into the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Final against Samy “AK47” Sana at the peak of his powers thanks to his coach’s rigorous and scientific approach to combat preparation.
Petrosyan credits Di Francesca in turning his career around, and says that without him, he could not have reached the heights he has hit in his career.
Before their partnership, Petrosyan was in a bad place both mentally and physically, so he recognized that he needed to make some drastic changes in his life to turn his career around.
“I went through a spell during which I thought about hanging it up because I couldn’t sleep, focus or train, and my passion had turned its back on me,” explains “The Doctor.”
“I came out of this terrible tunnel by moving, first and foremost, to a new place, and I came to Milan where my brother and I started a gym. I met my new coach, Ermes Di Francesca, who gave me renewed motivation and a fresh start.”
Di Francesca is a well-respected figure in the Italian martial arts scene who began his own training more than 25 years ago in kickboxing and boxing. He competed in both disciplines, but mostly focused on “the sweet science” until injury derailed his own competitive hopes.
The Milan native could not bear to leave his life’s passion behind. He wanted to give back, and his analytical mind and constant thirst for knowledge meant he was perfectly primed to help others as a coach, so that was where he put his focus.
However, he was not content with passing on skills to the next generation. The leader of Fit Square Boxing Team believed that knowledge of anatomy was crucial to get the best out of his athletes, so he developed an unparalleled reputation for blending technical and physical training.
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Di Francesca has molded an array of champions in different disciplines, so when “The Doctor” moved to his home city, he was thrilled to be scouted to join Team Petrosyan.
“I actually met Giorgio while fanboying out at an event, because before I became his coach, I used to be a fan of his,” he reveals.
“Then, in 2014, with the help of his manager, we forged this collaboration. [His manager] told me that Giorgio was about to move to Milan and needed a coach, and I got the nod for this job. I took him under my wing soon after he moved.”
Petrosyan had suffered a long layoff due to injury, but he was soon on the road to recovery thanks to Di Francesca’s scientific approach.
“At first, I ran some tests on Giorgio because he had been on the sidelines for close to a year because of his hand injury,” he adds.
“This is a full-contact sport where traumatic injuries are par for the course after a fight, and a trainer’s job is to try and keep athletes healthy. So, as a coach, the support I provided back then was aimed at getting things back to normal, and enabling him to train without feeling any pain.”
The focus was on Petrosyan’s health, so when he got back in shape to enter the ring again, he was fitter than before, and that gave him a mental boost.
With his mind rejuvenated, he was more motivated than ever to compete and achieve. He recaptured the form that had taken him to the top and set himself up for many more years in the sport.
Now, five years later, he is better than ever and primed to claim the biggest prize in his sport’s history.
His coach has undoubtedly played his part in his charge’s incredible return from the lowest ebb of his career, but he credits the Armenian-Italian’s talent, courage, and determination for his sustained success at the highest level.
“I believe that Giorgio is, above all, a good fighter thanks to his well-established skills,” Di Francesca explains.
“He has clearly fine-tuned his combat sports-specific motor skills over the years by practicing different martial arts including boxing, Muay Thai, and kickboxing. I also think that he is a good fighter due to his ability to make sacrifices, as he is an athlete who never gave up despite facing a variety of challenges.
“His spirit of sacrifice, his determination to always be at the top of his game – this is something that clearly comes from within him. I focus solely on providing the tools for him to stay at the top.”
Read more: How Giorgio Petrosyan Became ‘The Doctor’
- Watch PART I in USA on 12 October at 8pm EST and PART II on 13 October at 4am EST
- Watch PART I in India on 13 October at 5:30am IST and PART II at 1:30pm IST
- Watch PART I in Indonesia on 13 October at 7am WIB and PART II at 3pm WIB
- Watch PART I in Singapore on 13 October at 8am SGT and PART II at 4pm SGT
- Watch PART I in the Philippines on 13 October at 8am PHT and PART II at 4pm PHT
- Watch PART I in Japan on 13 October at 9am JST and PART II at 5pm JST
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events on the same day.
The Home Of Martial Arts will break new ground as it brings multiple World Title bouts, a trio of World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and several World Champion versus World Champion matches to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.