This is a story of a real karate people! This is US!

“The most important medal

This is a personal, intimate story. In so many ways it is about the beauty of Kyokushin and the people who love and practice this style. This story is about my friend Trampov. Everybody knows him, no need for much introduction.

During my fighting career, not a very long one, because I was more interested about the alchemy of the fight then the results, I won some fights, I lost some. I won some medals, I lost some. The story is about the most precious medal that I own. I wanted to write about this story for a long time, but it was kind of emotional for me, so I couldn’t. Then I realized it is both a personal and universal beauty of our Karate, so why not share it.
In 2004 I was taking part at the European Championship in Plovdiv, Bulgaria in the -90 kg category. After the first two rounds, in the first 8, I had to face Dimitar Trampov from Bulgaria. If you don’t practice Kyokushin since yesterday, chances you don’t know him are very small. Before that, it was Tameshiwari time. I loved to break things, so I thought I have an advantage, so I tried to break a lot of boards, but somehow I failed almost every time. In my opinion it was the supports who were to fragile and broke every time I was hitting the boards. We joked a lot about this. Nevertheless, Trampov broke more than I did. I said, what the fuck, this guy is five years older then me, he is 38, I will defeat him. And the fight started, and we fought like crazy for three rounds. And, finally it came to the boards, so I knew I am defeated. I chewed it and I moved on. Time passed, and some Romanian instructors were invited in 2016 in the Bulgarian summer camp. We had such a great time, and every time even though there was the language barrier (when Valeri is translating there is no barrier actually), Trampov was asking me if I don’t want my rematch. We joked all the time, we did some great sparring, he is a thrill to fight every time, we had a fantastic time together. One day, very serious he tells me together with Valeri that he wants to give me something. Ok, so he invites me into his room and offers me a small box. I admit, I was expecting some watch or jewelry, but no. I open it and there it was, the medal that I lost to him more then 10 years ago. It is difficult to explain how much he touched me with his gesture. I did not care about the medal, all my medals and trophies are in my mothers home, but, as Valeri put it when I tried to refuse, it is not a medal, it is his heart. I don’t use to cry very often, but I did that time. All his love, all his greatness and kindness and friendship was to much for me at that moment. And so I won the most precious medal in the world, and that is the respect, love and friendship of a great man. There is nothing more important than this in a fighters career!
This is very important to remember, especially for the young fighters. We fight each other not in order to destroy each other, but to help each other become wiser, stronger, to become friends, brothers in arms. Thank you, my brother Trampov sensei for this lesson I will never forget my whole life.

Osu! H.W.”