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Making Bad Choices — And Learning From Them | Michael Smolik On Becoming A World Champion

#TeamMyprotein is made up of incredible athletes and driven individuals — but perhaps none quite so ferocious as Michael Smolik.


The 27-year-old German kickboxer is not only the reigning Super Heavyweight World Champion, but he’s also the record holder for the fastest knockout — which he did in just 3 seconds.

3 seconds. That’s barely enough time to think about throwing a punch, let alone execute it.

His scoresheet speaks for itself, too — out of 31 battles, he’s had 31 victories. The word ‘machine’ springs to mind, right?

Despite having an upcoming headline fight this Saturday in the kickboxing premier league, GLORY World Series, we were lucky enough to get a moment with Michael in the midst of his busy training schedule.

 

Choosing his path

No one wakes up one morning a reigning world champion, no matter what the Hollywood directors would have you believe. It requires years and years of dedication, commitment and discipline to even get a foot in the arena — of course Michael had plenty of all three.

He was introduced to martial arts at a very young age by his father, who was a highly respected and successful taekwondo fighter in Poland in his heyday. As a small child, Michael’s sights were already firmly set on the prize — he says he dreamed of becoming the best fighter in the world.

He trained a lot with his father and brother, who, in the beginning, was always better than Michael.

“When my brother went out to play, I immediately thought, ‘okay he’s playing, which means he isn’t training now. So if I train now while he’s away, I’ll get better than him’. Kind of unreal, but then I did get better because of this strong ambition I had within me.”

We’re not sure about you, but we don’t know many children with that kind of foresight. It says a lot about how focused and competitive Michael was from a very young age.

He wasn’t afraid to break the rules, either. He admits that he used to secretly watch fight movies that he’d been told he wasn’t allowed to watch, and then try to imitate the moves in his room afterwards.

“My way is the way of the warrior, I must and want to become the best fighter in the world.”

As a teenager, he struggled with staying on the right side of the rules more and more — especially as he experienced some bullying.

“I tried to compensate this with my strength and abilities, and with violence, in order to express, ‘hey, look, I’m someone too’.”

This turned him into one of the ‘bad boys’ in school, constantly causing arguments and problems, and even committing a few petty crimes as well. As he was under the age of 14, he wasn’t old enough to be deemed criminally responsible for these crimes, and, luckily, it was the wakeup call he needed.

At just 16 years old, he completely reversed his situation and decided to join the police. He realised the effect that his actions were having on others and wanted to help them instead.

“I believe that your present personality is shaped by your past and childhood. I have experienced both sides, but eventually, I have chosen the good way.”

Michael is now a strong believer in the ‘law of attraction’ and thinks that everything in the universe is interconnected, so when you give, you get back.

 

Becoming a champion

For a while, Michael kept up his martial arts training whilst he worked as a police officer. He’d won almost every taekwondo fight in the amateur field, and also taken part in several World Championships.

After 15 years of focusing on taekwondo, he made the switch to kickboxing. This led to another important decision. His employers in the police force gave him a choice;

“Do you want to be a professional martial artist or a policeman? Both won’t work together.”

There are no prizes for guessing which path Michael chose. Since 2016, he’s given everything to his dream — turning it into reality by becoming a full-time professional athlete and a renowned World Champion.

But for someone as ambitious as Michael, there’s always something to reach for next.

“Today I’m driven by the will to grow internationally. I want to be known in the film industry. I want to — and this might sound gigantic — be a legend.”

Martial arts continue to keep him grounded, though. When he’s angry or upset, or something hasn’t gone to plan, he’ll go to the gym and train. For him, it’s a way to let go of negative emotions.

“That’s the beauty of sport, not just martial arts, but sport in general. You can work through your emotions during training and transform this anger or sadness — or whatever you feel inside you at that very moment — into strength and motivation.”

Michael has started meditation and mental training too, which he stresses is just as important, if not more important, than physical training. He recognises that if his mind is not in the right space, then his body can’t progress, no matter how hard he trains it.

“If you combine both the mind and body, then you really are a super hero.”

 

Michael’s take home message

“No matter what happens, no matter who says something to you about how bad you are, or about how you can’t do something — KEEP GOING!

No matter what happens, hold on to your dream. After all, this is, and always will be, the most important thing.”

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Lauren Dawes

Lauren Dawes

Writer and expert

Lauren is an English Literature graduate originally from the South. She’s always loved swimming, has discovered the power of weight training over the past few years, and has lots of room for improvement in her weekly hot yoga class.

On the weekends she’s usually cooking or eating some kind of brunch, and she enjoys trying out new recipes with her housemates – especially since shaking off student habits, like mainly surviving off pasta. Above all, she’s a firm believer in keeping a balance between the gym and gin.

Find out more about Lauren’s experience here.