By getting a second consecutive win over “The Burmese Python,” he can accomplish his dual objectives of adding to his burgeoning legacy, and securing a better future for his family — his wife and one-year-old son. For the 32-year-old Bigdash, both of those objectives go hand-in-hand.
“I think a man should live with a purpose. My goal was to win the ONE World Championship title, and I did that. Now I would like to fight and live in a way such that even decades later, people would remember me as a great fighter and a decent man,” the 32-year-old explains.
“Having a son is part of my life’s purpose. I want to leave my legacy for him, so he can look up to someone and feel proud, just like how I used to look up to my dad when I was a kid.”
In fact, the champ still admires his dad to this very day. Bigdash is now settled in Rostov-on-Don, a warm Russian city perched on the banks of the Don River, but he originally hailed from Orenburg, a city in the Ural Mountains, which is known as one of the coldest territories in the country.
During his childhood, the family relocated quite often. Because of his dad’s occupation, he never stayed in one city for too long.
“When I was born, my father served in the military, and that meant we had to move every couple of years with his job,” the champ recalls. When his father retired from military service, the family followed him to Rostov, where they were given a flat by the state.
Since the family moved so often, that meant Bigdash changed schools just as frequently. In fact, he changed schools five times. Though most children despise being “the new kid,” it was a role the future champ was forced to embrace.
“Nobody expected me to be academically bright,” he says. “I was just an ordinary kid, to be honest. I had to make new friends and fit in every time, but it was not hard. I never let anyone bully me. I got to live in many beautiful places, and now I have more school friends than anyone I know.”
While there were plenty of changes in Bigdash’s life when he was a child, there was always one constant — his father. He was a role model who took care of the family and served his country, just some of the many traits the future champ admires about him.
“I have always looked up to my father as a very hard-working, respectful and fair man,” he says, citing him as his mentor and biggest influence. “I am not sure if I will treat my son exactly like my father treated me, because my son is still very small. But what I am sure of is that I want to be a role model for my son, to be someone he can look up to.”
Already a celebrity in Rostov-on-Don, and one of the most respected fighters in the nation, Bigdash has a lifestyle that is far from glitzy and glamorous. He trains twice a day, and spends the rest of his time with the family.
“I do not drink or smoke, and I rarely visit clubs or bars,” he admits. “It is much more important for me to build a career, to keep defending my title, and to see my son growing up.”
But that also comes with plenty of sacrifices. In the Russian middleweight’s case, that means being away from his family to spend more time training in the gym and competing throughout Asia at ONE’s blockbuster events. Bigdash constantly travels to train at Akhmat Fight Club in Chechnya, as well as Thailand’s Phuket Top Team to improve his skills.
That has forced Bigdash to miss some of life’s most treasured moments, but he remembers his purpose, and remains driven by it.
“I missed it when my son started crawling. I did not see his first steps, and it really gutted me. But when it is time to train, you have to focus on just one thing. I think of it this way: I have already sacrificed my time for this. I have to give it 100 per cent,” he explains.
“I feel such a huge responsibility for him and for my wife now. I am not alone in the world. I have them to take care of, and when I fight, it is for them, too. It is important that they have a comfortable life”.
In order to do that, Bigdash has to keep winning, and that quest continues on 30 June in Yangon.