January, 4, 2002

Igor Vovchanchyn Interview.

Part I - IV.

"He is the unique fighter, and I consider him the best in the world. He remembers everything and it is practically impossible to catch him with the same move twice..."

                                                                                                                    Alexei Oleinik, Igor's friend  and former sparring partner.

We agreed to meet Igor in Kharkov, and which was pleasant he arrived to our meeting without any delay. He was driving BMW 5 series and was dressed as a professional athlete Ė in duffel.  We agreed to go come to his office, where we could talk quietly. Igor has got a restaurant named "Pharaoh", so we went there. The restaurant is very decent, there is a poolroom in one wing, and it was still under construction when we were there. There was an interesting moment: when we arrived, Igor shakes hands with all the workers who did the construction in the poolroom.

In general he was very natural and cool, communicated with us as we were friends for a long time (simply as with comrade (in spite of all that we heard of him it was still very pleasant)).

ďHFĒ Ė Hybrid Fighting;  ďIVĒ Ė Igor Vovchanchyn.

HF:  Well, first of all could you please tell us about yourself, it would be very interesting to finally hear the truth about you, because there are so many rumors goes around that people donít know what to believe.

IV: Frankly speaking, Iím getting a little tired to speak about one and the same things over and over againÖ (Smiles)

HF: Yes, youíre right, we read a lot of your interviews, so it would be interesting to learn some details about you, leaving out questions like ďtell us about your childhoodĒ or ďwhatís your plans for a futureĒ.

IV: OK. By the way, speaking about my plans for a nearest future, I canít tell anything for sure.  There is a twofold situation in PRIDE right now, they canít gain an understanding with K-1. The Bosses of these organizations are some kind of relatives and presently they are trying to divide something between themselves, but with no success. Generally speaking, I have contract with PRIDE for 4 more fights, but when Iím going to fight next time, I donít know yet.  Iím planning to fight in December, on PRIDE 24.

HF: Do you mean your rib injury?

IV: Yes, the rib too, but there are also small problems with my right elbow, so I presently attend some therapy seances.

HF: Is it serious?

IV: I just need some time to rest and recover. So if I would fight in PRIDE in December, I would take a vocation for about 3 months afterwards. I want to devote myself to health. I had a good rest last summer, me and my wife went to Zakarpatje, we walked on mountains for 15 km per day. Do you know The Dovbush Path?  I came from there well rested, but I should take up my injuries seriously.

HF: Sure, health is the main think, all jokes aside.  Actually a lot of people are amazed how did you manage to conduct so many fights.

IV: Yes, I think I am the only one who has so many fights in PRIDE.

HF: Igor, which fight do you consider the most difficult for you?

IV: From the latter fights I think the one against Herring.  Have you seen it?

HF: Yes, we have. You knocked him down few times, then you got a yellow card while being on the bottom, and because of that the decision was not in your favour in pretty even fight.

IV: Yes, it was a difficult fight. The ref thought that I was too passive on the bottom and gave me that yellow card.  By the way, now they are thinking about abolishing of those yellow cards, they would be given only for a really serious violation, like a striking to groin, for instance.

HF: Speaking about low blows.  Remember your fight with Telligman?

IV: Of course.  Were was no groin shot, but I still apologized, he quickly understood what is happening and imitated a groin shot.  The ref believed him and I got a warning.  After that fight guys from other teams came to me and asked: ďIgor, why the hell did you apologize for a shot that you didnít do?Ē What can I say? (Smiles).

HF: They are right, especially knowing who are you fighting with.  In our opinion, the whole Shamrock team is not known for itís integrity.

IV: I heard that Telligman does pro-boxing now.

HF: Yes, we heard that, too. We also know that you started your career with boxing.

IV: Yes, in combat sports. I even got a ďcandidate to master of sportĒ degree in boxing.  But before that I did track, I wasnít bad at running 100 meters, and I also threw discus.

HF:  Man of many talents.  But how you decided to go to NHB from kickboxing?

IV: In 1995 (by that time I won the Championship of the world in Danmark and Championship of C.I.S. in kickboxing), I havenít fought in kickboxing for almost a year.  There was a tournament in Kharkov named "Honour of the Warrior 2". I was invited and I decided to give it a try.

HF: Do you remember this tournament? Who did you fight?  I heard you lost to Besedin that time?

IV: Yes, I won the first fight by KO (against Sasha Mandrick), the second fight by KO also (against Sergey Bondarochitch), and lost my third fight to Andrey Besedin. At that time I had now idea how to grapple.  So when we got to the ground I simply didnít know what to do (Smiles). So I lost by leg lock..

HF: Is Besedin from Kharkov?

IV: Yes, Andrey is from Kharkov, too. He is a very strong sambist.

HF: After that there were tournaments in Moscow (AFC 1), Donetsk and Minsk.  Is it correct?

IV: Yes, thatís right, first in Moscow (there I beat Akinen and Lima and lost to Illiuhin). Then Minsk and Donetsk. (HF: Sasha Mandrik has told us that he was in Brazilian team locker room in person and saw how they gave injections into Limaís broken nose, and how he dashed into the fight like a zombie after that.  Sasha had it on video, but this tape didnít last out).

HF: Yeah, we saw all these tournaments.  Great fights!

Part II.

IV: After these championships there was the First Ukrainian No Rules Fighting Championship in Kiev.  I won 2 fights there and became a HW Champion. Sasha Mandrick became a LW Champion.

HF: Do you remember names of your opponents?

IV: No, Iím afraid I canít remember. I only remember that I beat one guy from Stahanov.  But I donít remember his name.

HF: Igor Ahmetov?

IV: Yes, thatís him.  Do you guys know him?

HF: Not in person, we only heard about him.

IV: This tournament was like an elimination contest for International tournament in Kiev (IFC 1). So me and Mandrick fought in this tournament.  I remember, me and a friend of mine were standing in front of Sport Palace, and a bus with Americans arrived.  All of them were like 2 meters tall (6.6íí ft), in feather beds, with slip on hoods. My friend said: " Igor, run out of here, before you got killed! Just look at these monsters!". As you know I won this tournament, but I did not get prize for victory (25000 dollars).

HF: Yeah, thatís not the first time we hear that Kobiliansky (HF: Kobiliansky, a.k.a. George, you can see him on WVC 5, WVC 7, etc. a guy who knows only ďthis is a real fightĒ in English) swindled a lot of people on that tournament.  Is that true?

IV: On this tournament everyone was swindled. No one got anything.  Americans just turned around and went home.  And you know, I do not think that Kobylyansky was a key figure in this swindle.  I think he didnít got these money himself.

HF:  We are afraid you should forget about these money now.

IV: I already did. But I still recall this sometimes and it offends me big time then (Smiles).

After that I fought in Donetzk again. I won one fight by KO, and two others Ė by choke.  In that second fight I beat Ahmetov again, I donít remember two other opponents. After that it was a tournament in Kharkov. I fought in superfight with a guy from Donetzk and won by KO.

HF: You know, we have not heard about this tournament.  Is this the one that is called INTERPRIDE?

IV: No, INTERPRIDE happened much later. After this tournament in Kharkov I fought in Moscow on AFC 2. It was a superfight with Castello Branco.  After that there was a tournament in Odessa - Cup of Stars 97.

HF: We heard about it, but not too much.  We only know that it had two laps.  Could you please tell us some more about it?

IV: Sure. It was U-shu Sanda tournament, and it had two phases.  It started in May. I won two fights, but this tournament was not successful for me, because I broke my right arm (rolls up his sleeve, shows the scar on right forearm).

HF: We learn so many interesting details from you!

IV: No problem.  Should I continue?

HF: Yes, please.

IV: Afterwards there was a Cup to Russia in "Pilot" night club, the late Vassily Kudin place.

HF: Yes, we saw that tournament, but not all of it.  We only saw your fight with Kudin, but the rest your two fights (against Gerus and Menzihov) were cut from the tape.

IV: (Smiling) No, you guys are confused. I won the first fight against Kudin. He refused to continue the fight due to low kicks.  So I was supposed to fight Gerus in semifinal, but he was also out due to injury. And I advanced to final without a semifinal fight.  I was waiting to my opponent Ė the winner of the fight between Mikhail Avetisyan and Menzihov.  Did you see their fight?

HF: Yes

IV: Do you remember how they look like after their fight? It was 30 minutes main time, plus extra time. In the final I was supposed to fight Avetisyan (even though it was a draw between him and Menzihov), but he couldnít continue and didnít fight in final. So I didnít fight Gerus and Avenisyan then.

HF: In all fighting data bases it is said that those fights took place.

IV: No, they did not.

HF: What happened next? Tournament in Israel??

IV: No, after that I had 3 more fights in Donetzk, I won all of them by KO.  Only after that I went to the Cup of the World in Israel(AFC3).  Have you seen my fight with Nick Nutter?

HF: Yes, we saw it. It was great!

IV: I broke his nose with by head and he gave up (Smiles)

HF: What about your fight with Avetisyan? What do you think of Mikhail?

IV: It was a difficult fight, he is a very strong wrestler. He does not fight any more, after he had infectious hepatitis, and got both of his legs shot through.

HF: God, we didnít know that! Is he a bandit?

IV: No, on the contrary, he is the public prosecutor assistant.

Part III.

HF: What was afterwards?

IV: Afterwards went to Brazil on Vale Tudo(WVC5). I won the Tournament, knocking out Nutter in the final again. With a knee this time.  It was promised to give a winner of the tournament  10000 dollars, but I only got 6 k. Lapenda (have you heard about him? Ė Of course!) started whining and promised to pay the rest 4 k later. But it is clear that I can forget about these money now. Here is a story about what happened before the tournament.

We got to hotel, the tournament was supposed to start next day. So I decided to go for a walk to the beach. Hotel was close to the beach, so it took me about 5 minutes to get there. But when I returned to hotel I couldnít even touch my body Ė I got terrible sunburn! And I had to fight the next day. But in the evening organizers came to the hotel and told me that the tournament was deferred for the few days.  And that was good!

HF: Interesting!

IV: It was interesting in Brazil. I fought there again after Pride 4, twice. In Brazil I saw Pele and Don the Dragon Wilson.

HF: We really want to ask you about your fight with Carvalho.

IV: (Smiling) Yes, I remember it. I cut all of his face that time. As the fight went on, I was puzzled: I keep beating him, he is covered with blood, but the fight is not being stopped. Later, while he was checked by the doctor, I was told that they did not like Carvalho at all over there, and they protracted our fight on purpose, to watch him prohibited to continue the fight, I was declared a winner. This fight was a superfight on that tournament.

HF: Why didnít Carvalho just stay down?

IV: Do you know how much fighters make in Brazil? 300 dollars for participation and 1000 for winning the tournament. And there is a line of fighters to each tournament, approximately 70 people. So if Carvalho would lay and stay down, he probably wouldnít fight there any more.

HF: We saw all your fights in Brazil and in Japan. The fight with Bueno was the most impressive.

IV: Yes, it was a quick fight. After the fight was over the president of K-1 came to me, took 1000 dollars from his pocket, and gave it to me saying: ďI saw everything, but this knockoutÖĒ

HF: What happened on INTERPRIDE tournament in 1999?

IV: I won two fights in this tournament. In final I beat fighter from Georgia (Bardanashvili) with a choke. 

HF: Igor, how did you get to Rings in Lithuania?

IV: I was invited to this tournament. Few days before the fight my opponent got hurt, so he was replaced with a fighter who hasnít fought for quite a while. So his terms were not to punch. So that fight wasnít very spectacle. I was very unaccustomed to this, I could hardly control myself in order to not to punch. I just low kicked him.

HF:  We saw your interview in Vilnus. You said there that when you started grappling your boxing got worse. Is it true?

IV: Yes, thatís right. I gained a lot of weight when I started wrestling, I also feel some changes  in my striking. Feeling of distance changed also, etc. Right now I want to increase my boxing practice. I have a very good sparring partner in boxing. This guy even beat Vitaly Klitchko some time ago. My sparring partner in grappling Ė Igor Kovaliov. He is a good grappler, but he has to work with his striking.

HF: How many times per day do you train?

IV: Same as before, twice a day. Sometimes I do some workouts over here (smiling, shows 70 kg dumb-bell (weight) standing nearby). I am thinking about moving to lighter weight category, you know, where Silva and Sakuraba are. I think I have a really good chances to become a champion over there.

HF: But what about Silva? What do you think of him?

Part IV.

IV: Silva? Yeah, he is not bad, but he is the type of fighter that I like the best as an opponent. He fights with force and rush, he puts a pressure on his opponents. But I wonít be scared of that. My counter striking is pretty good, and my nerves are OK, too.

HF: What about your last opponent Ė Quinton Jackson?

IV: I have not seen this fight yet. I remember I tried a guillotine choke, maybe that was my mistake. So he lifted me up and slammed.

HF: What can you say about steroid control in Pride?

IV: Of course, there is one. We have blood test 3 days before the fight, and urine test before and right after the fight.

HF: Igor, honestly, how do you feel about using steroids?

IV: Honestly, I donít use them. I use vitamin complexes, once a year, in spring, I have dropper with mixture that renews blood. I also go to market and purchase various herbs. But to use chemistry  - no, thanks.

HF: Have you heard anything about your future opponents?

IV: Not yet. Actually they are supposed to let us know about our opponents one month before the fight, but it can happen just one week before the fight. So you wonít have time to prepare. Speaking about fight with Kerr, I prepared myself specially for him. I was mad at him. So before our fight I studied his fights with my trainer, we developed my strategy for the fight. Now, when you find out who your opponent will be a few weeks before the fight it is impossible to do so.

HF: After Pride 7 the result of your fight with Kerr was called a no contest. What happened?

IV: I kneed him when he was on the ground. It was basically prohibited. But it was refereeís mistake Ė he should stopped the fight earlier. As a result I was declared a winner and after the event this result was reversed.

HF: Igor, winners keep those Pride cups? You probably have a ton of them?

IV: Yes, we keep all the cups that we win. I also have a big cup, from Pride GP.

HF: Could you please tell us about Pride GP? Many people think that the final was not equal. What do you say?

IV: I had a very tough fight with Goodridge, I Koed him only at the end of a fight (after the fight Gary said that knowing my punches he had no desire to fight me again (smiles)), and a difficult fight with Sakuraba. I was very depleted before the final match. And Fujitaís corner threw the towel even before semifinal match with Coleman started. We were advised to dispute that semifinal and prove that their fight didnít even take place. The rules say that the towel canít be thrown before fighters touch each other. But we decided not to complain. We donít need it. You know, I noticed that Japanese fans root for me even when I lose (smiles).

HF: Thatís because you are a decent person, as good fighter is supposed to be.

IV: Well, I donít knowÖ(smiles)

HF: Come on, donít be over-modest! Our Dutch friend was on your seminar and told us how you kept giving your autographs and taking pictures with those who whished till late at night. And you didnít refuse to anyone. In general there are legends about your friendliness!

IV: (Smiles silently)

HF: With whom do you communicate (we mean fighters), and what is the situation with MMA in Kharkov like?

IV: Gerus comes over sometimes, Liosha Oleinik, too. I have good relationships with everybody. There are some plans to make a MMA tournament in circus over here, but I donít have accurate information yet. Once there was a TV program here in Kharkov about MMA and Minamoto clan. They didnít even mention my name in there. Maybe I offended them somehow? (Smiles).

HF: There are a lot of talking about your possible fights in the USA, in UFC. What can you say about that?

IV: There were no concrete offers. There were some conversations regarding the possibility for me to have some seminars over there, but they contact Pride on this matter. And you know, they pay their fighters less than Pride does, only champions get close to Pride payments. So I donít really strive to get there. 

HF: What about your fight in Holland?

IV: Yes, it is true, I agreed to fight there. I don't know the exact date yet.  Approximately it will happen in the end of spring - beginning of summer.

HF: How is your business doing? Do you lease these premises?

IV: (Merrily) No, I earned some money fighting, and bought it. You should see what was here before repair!

HF: Igor, thank you very much for your time. This conversation was very interesting and important for us. What do you say if we will call you sometime to learn some news about you?

IV: Sure, no problem! Youíve got my mobile number, so call any time! 

We would like to thank Eugenia Borshevskaya, general secretary of ďAssociation of professional combat sportsĒ (Kiev, Ukraine), and Oleg Ermakov, Igor Vovchanchynís trainer, for their great help in organization of this interview.


Contact us:

Alex Shevchenko  e-mail:                                                                                                                                                      

Alexei Zhernakov   e-mail:  

Since 12/28/02




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