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NATALIA LARIONOVA







Natilia  Larionova






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Natalia Larionova is 26 years old, with piercing eyes and a charming smile. She is a three times world champion in kick boxing. She emanates the aura of friendliness; she likes art and women. But first, about kick boxing..

s t o r y   a n d   d e s i g n   b y   v i c a   v i n o g r a d o v a

special thanks to Arkadiy Volk for help in arranging the interview



VV: How does a woman become a kick boxer?
NL:
I wanted to do something special with my life. I always wanted to fight.. Judo wasn't exciting enough, so in 1989 I joined the first french kick boxing team in St. Petesrburg, went to fight in France and won. In 1992 in Moscow I fought 10 rounds for the world title with Ramona Gato, but lost. Interestingly, Chuck Norris who was there, said that I was stronger..

VV: How do you handle pain? You are basically being beaten up..
NL: No, I am not!!!!

VV: Well, probably not. But in principle, you get hit, you lose your breath, but you have to keep going..
NL:
Boxing is a kind of sport where you have to solve several situations at once: where to kick, how to move, how to not give up mentally. On the ring I basically don't feel pain at all. Afterwards, yes, but during the fight I concentrate on the process.




natasha

VV: Did your upbringing influence your decision to become a boxer?

NL: Not at all. My grandmother is a professor of psychiatry, my father is a professor of biochemistry. He is working in the US right now and was voted the best scientist of the year in 1996. My Mom is also a biochemist but right now she does artistic restoration. My uncles are artists. I simply wanted to fight, and I only started when I was 19. Before that I did horse back riding.


natasha

 

VV: When you step on the ring now - you are a world champion. It must be a very special feeling in comparison to your first fights..
NL:
Of course. In the beginning I would run out on the ring, kick my opponent, she would fall and it would all be over. I felt as if I was in an unknown town, but now the ring is home; it's my territory, and I just show my opponent and the judges that I control the situatuion.

VV: You are a professional since 1992. How does that differ from being an amature?
NL:
There is a totally different approach to how the competition is judged. When you are an amature, the rules are followed strictly. In professional kick boxing judges tend to miss certain moments: like you could use your elbows (which is forbidden) or kick with your head to slash your opponent's eyebrow... The idea is that people paid money to see the fight and the judges are not going to stop it even if you play against the rules..


VV: Do you prepare mentally for each fight?
NL:
No, I am always ready. It's like a second life.

VV: Can you hit any body part?
NL:
Except for the crotch and the back.

VV: You can kick in the face with your legs?
NL: Of course. But the best trick is to kick the opponent's legs with your legs. A couple of good kicks, a nockdown - and she can't walk..

VV: Do you have a lot of nockdowns in your "history"?
NL:
Yeah.. Most of them with a kick in the liver.. I was kicked in a liver a couple of times - very unpleasant feeling.



natasha

VV: Have you ever been nocked down yourself?
NL:
No. It's a very serious trauma. According to doctors, you cann't compete for six months afterwards.

VV: Aren't you afraid that one day you will be an invalid?
NL: Well, it's like driving a car. I can get hit on the road any time, it doesn't mean that I will stop driving.. (Laughs)


natasha
VV: Do you have a regular practice partner?
NL:
Yes. I practice only with guys. They are stronger, faster and after them it's easier to fight with girls.

VV: Are they (guys) afraid of you in real life?
NL: I don't ask. They normally meet me in a gym, or at a night club "Metro" where I am an administrator, so they don't expect me to be a ballet dancer. It's really not an issue for me... (smiles)

VV: Are you thinking about other careers, besides boxing?
NL:
Right now I want to switch from kick boxing to real boxing - it's more fashionable and better paid.

VV: How much do you get paid now?
NL:
$7,000 a fight.

 

VV: Has your status changed after you became a world champion? Are you considered a celebrity?
NL:
People know and love me, as they do all sportsmen in Russia. But it doesn't bring any extra income. (laughs)

VV: Is moving into boxing a step towards new ambitions?
NL:
Absolutely. I am already a three time champion in kick boxing and I need to try other heights.

VV: What is ahead, beyond boxing?
NL:
I finished the St. Petersburg academy of physical culture, but then I want to go into arts, mostly sculpture. I am already working in wood, but want to try stone.

VV: Do you have an ideal in your life?
NL:
Mohammed Ali. He is a Michelangelo of boxing.

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Copyright Vica Vinogradova 1997

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