On June 27th in Greece the K-1 legend that is Mike Zambidis will step into the ring one last time in his retirement fight. The 34-year old fighter will cap off a long and storied career by fighting one of the world's toughest Lightweights in Steve Moxon. In a way, Zambidis fighting Moxon for his retirement fight is a very Zambidis thing to do; he didn't have to fight someone as tough and relevant as Moxon. Zambidis is going out on his own terms, which is rare for many fighters, it also meant that he could choose someone that he could just easily plow through for a memorable knockout for his retirement. Instead Zambidis chose a challenge.
I think when we all look back on Mike Zambidis it should be that fighting spirit that we all remember. We had a chance to talk to Zambidis prior to his big fight this coming weekend and a reflecting Zambidis had a lot to say about his career, his fans and even his most memorable fights. Mike Zambidis fights Steve Moxon on June 27th in Athens, Greece under the Iron Challenge banner.
LK: First of all, thank you for all of the great memories in the ring. I'm not sure that there are many fighters out there as entertaining and full of heart like you.
MZ: Thank you very much for your kindness. It is very important for an athlete to be respected by the audience and especially by the insiders of his field with such great experience.
LK: After a successful 15-plus-year career you are retiring, what was the decision making process like for this? What finally pushed you to move into retirement?
MZ: I am involved in kick boxing for 24 years and in times that kick boxing was not popular in my country but I dreamed and looked up with my head down and after huge sacrifices and endless hours of training, I have achieved 178 fights, 155 wins and 87 Kos. I had the honor to compete during the golden years of kick boxing in major events and with the best athletes worldwide.
After all this wonderful and demanding journey , I feel enormous gratitude that I manage to finish my career healthy and in high competitive level. Now, I feel full inside so as to go on with the next chapters of my life.
LK: How important is it for you to be able to retire in front of your friends, family and fans in Greece?
MZ: There is nothing better than to give my last battle in Greece, although there have been several interesting proposals by others countries, but my decision was the only way.
The Greeks support me in many ways, either daily out on the street, on social media, or filling each stadium where my battles are organised and transfer their energy, which is very valuable for me.
LK: Reflecting back on your career, what was your favorite fight?
MZ: I have many favorite fights … But I will pick the first that came to my mind. It was the first time I stepped my foot in Japan and my first battle there with the champion of K-1 in 2003. For a long time, I was dreaming to participate in K-1. I won the eight-fold in the K -1 Oceania Australia and John Wein Parr in the finals and so I found myself opposite to the Dutch Albert Kraus. In the beginning of the second round, I managed to knock him out, diving in the deep sea of K-1. A shocking experience for a young unknown Greek athlete back then.
LK: What made you select Steve Moxon as a final opponent? Moxon is an incredibly tough, top-ranked opponent. Is this just the Mike Zambidis warrior spirit that wouldn't accept an easy fight for his retirement?
MZ: I respect Steve Moxon and he has provoked me many times in the past. As he said in the past, I was his idol due to the similar fighting style and I think that it is very interesting for the audience to see. The experts of martial arts predict a spectacular battle between two strong athletes that are chasing the knock out. As you said, I could accept an easy fight at this moment but I love challenges a lot. I am not just an athlete, I am a warrior and I learned in my life to fight, aiming high. This is a challenge I would like to take, as I think it will be a Titans’ battle.
LK: What do you think that your legacy will be on the sport after you retire?
MZ: The fights I have given in K-1, my wins over the world’s greatest champions of kick boxing, my «iron» fists and my fighting style, I think will be my legacy. Also, the fact that I was a Greek warrior fighting alone in the biggest kick boxing events worldwide, I think is going to be a nice thing to remember about me.
LK: What kind of plans do you have for your retirement? Do you plan on working with fighters and training them, running events, running a business or are you just planning to relax?
MZ: In Greece I own two fighting clubs where I give kick boxing lessons, so I will continue to run them giving more time and train athletes. In parallel, I plan to offer kids seminars for nutritional education, sports education, self-defense, in order to strengthen their self-confidence and any other important experience I can offer.
LK: Is there a fighter out there that you believe could help the Mike Zambidis legacy continue on, or do you think that you are retiring as a one-of-a-kind talent?
MZ: I believe that every athlete is unique; no one can be the same with the other. Of course nowadays, there are many good athletes in the world who can offer many things to kick boxing and achieve great things. On the other hand, I believe that the Golden Era of kick-boxing has ended and strong teams like the ones gathered in Japan or in heavyweights like Peter Aerts, Ernesto Hust, Le Banner, Bernado, Loginidis, Andy Hug and in K-1 max 70 kg with Masato, Kraus, Kyshenko, Drago, Buakaw, Souwer and many others won’ t exist again for 2 reasons: Firstly, it is rare to have good fighters in their best physical condition to compete in the same event and secondly the global economic crisis which dissolves dreams and shrinks everything.
LK: Are there any regrets from your career, or are you satisfied with your accomplishments?
MZ: After 178 fights, 155 wins and 87 KOs, I would be ungrateful if I said that I am not satisfied with my accomplishments. Thank God, I don’t have second thoughts and I am happy. I would be ungrateful if I was not happy with what I have accomplished. Definitely, there were a lot of difficulties, frustrations , injustices and injuries during all this wonderful trip but I keep the good moments, that were definitely more and I am glad because I used all the bad ones to become more mature and get myself in the next battles more «angry» in a creative and investing way and complete human and fighter.
LK: Is there anything that you'd like to say to your fans and supporters all throughout the world?
MZ: I would like to thank them personally, one by one. Their support, energy and love are precious for every step I take. I’ ve always felt very honored for the people who supported me in my fights around the world. That’s why I was training and I gave 100% of my soul and body in my battles so that I could please them.