Zsolt Balogh (HUN) Interview
What’s your opinion about the draw?
I found it very tough. Personally I think it has the highest level of fighters out of any other World Tournaments, and they are all well positioned. The champion of this tournament will be highly regarded as there is no easy block thus only the two strongest fighters can make it to the final.
Which fight would be the hardest in your block?
I’d say my hardest opponent would be Tsukamoto as he is one of the top class fighters in Japan. Though I need to beat numerous strong willed and determined fighters to get to Tsukamoto and there will be no easy match. My aim to win against any fighter therefore I am training my hardest to achieve this.
Who would be your toughest opponent?
There are a few fighters on my mind but I’m focusing on my mental status to overcome them as I believe it is the key factor to help me grow. As much as I respect every fighter, I’d like to beat them all so getting rid of the fear and concentrating on winning is essential for me to achieve my goal.
What’s your current aim?
I have mainly been training on my speed and techniques plus some focus on stamina. Speed is important for me to obtain ippon as fast as possible and a precise technique will support that. When fighting an opponent with a similar level of skill, stamina could be the deciding aspect for the winner.
What are the criteria for a victory?
The most important factor to be a champion is to have a great mentor. I believe I am one of the few people who have such a privilege. I get along with my wonderful coach, sensei József Stefanovics and have built a great relationship. Having a great team is another thing – I am fortunate enough to have team mates who are like my best friends participating at the World Tournament so that we can work together toward a higher aim.
Additionally, support from family is necessary and greatly helps with mental strength. Although maintaining physical strength is extremely important, I feel psychological strength plays a vital role. This factor has been deeply pursued in preparation for the World Tournament.
If every fighter receives all of the above then ‘victory’ is a realistic goal and fortunately I have them all.
How often do you train a week/day?
There are two training sessions a day so I’d say 10 – 12 trainings a week, but there is always one day in a week that I do not train at all.
How often do you do weight training in a week?
I do weight training twice a week that simulates the resistance at the tournament.
Is there anything you’ve noticed/changed throughout the training for the WT?
My mental strength has improved in a last few years. Today, all fighters have high level of techniques as well as stamina so that the difference between the top fighters is very minimal. The fighter who believes in himself and his training will be the champion.
What was your reaction and situation when you heard about the Fukushima Earthquake news?
It was just after I got home from school, I read about the Earthquake news on the Internet. I felt sick straight away and thought of my friends in Japan. After everyone had confirmed their safety, I started worrying about my dream country – Japan.
Any messages for the victims of the earthquake?
It’s hard to give any good advice in such a situation. All I can say is to ‘hang in there, don’t give up and rebuild everything the natural disaster has taken away from you.’ Japan is a strong nation. Many people might still be suffering though I have faith in the Japanese people that I believe they will stand on their own feet again in the near future.
What do you think of Japan’s activity to convey a safe environment?
I am one of the ones to tell everyone about the safety of the Japanese environment. I believe Japan is the only country that can revive from such a natural disaster and I have faith in the Japanese people.
What do you think we can do for this through Karate?
I am responsible for teaching some kids and adults classes. My aim is to help them to be a person who is honest and attractive. If the instructors can be a ideal role model, the students will follow with confidence. I will continue trying to be a person who can be a great example.
What do you think of the Japanese team?
Japan always has the strongest team at the World Tournaments. Every fighter is stable and strong as only the top class fighters are selected to be a part of the Japanese team through large national tournaments. I see Tsukamoto as one of the most creative fighters though the former World Champion, Tsukakoshi will probably get a top rank.
What are your aspirations for this tournament?
I’d like to be in my top condition on the tournament day. If everything goes well, I could bring a few surprises.
From: Karate LIFE
Translation: Ayumi Noguchi