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20 NOVEMBER 2018


One on one with Mihaly Kotai

By Teddy Stenmark
TS: As a former member of the Hungarian National Team, what were your biggest international achievements in the amateurs?

Mk: In 1997 I was fifth in the World Championships and in 2000, before I turned pro, I won a bronze medal at the European Championships in Tampere, Finland.

TS: You are now undefeated in 20 paid fights. Which one of those was the toughest?

MK: Up until now without a doubt the one with South African champion William Gare when I won the WBC International title. He had much more to offer than all my other opponents, a real classy guy with a smooth style and a lot of variety. But I beat him clearly and became the first man to put him on the floor.

TS: So now you are the WBC International super-welterweight champion and have just cracked the WBC Top 10, all of which makes you eligible to fight for the world title. Do you feel ready for such a fight just yet?

MK: The 10th position is really nice and I appreciate the faith of the WBC and our friend Mauro Betti, but I think I need more tough fights before trying for the ultimate dream, a world title. You see, , I don’t just want to fight for it – I want to win it, too!

TS: Whom do you spar with on a daily basis and were do you normally train?

MK: My home base of training, of course, is in Budapest where I live and have the best of the Hungarian amateurs for sparring. But many times, my manager (Olaf Schrder) or my promoter (Krzysztof Zbarski) send me to camp abroad. I was in England, Denmark, Poland and even in New York for training. At the start of the New Year, I plan to go to Germany.

TS: Are there any super-welterweights out there that you particularly would like to meet?

MK: At this stage of my career, I am certainly not in a position to pick and choose my opponents, so I’m really willing to fight anybody that Olaf selects. And that’s cool with me, because I don’t like to spend my time pondering about whom I’d like to fight or not. I’d rather go to the gym to do my part of the job.

TS: How would you describe yourself as a boxer, what are your strengths in your own opinion?

MH: My biggest strength obviously is my power, but I also believe in my technical ability and try constantly to improve them and learn. Mostly, though, I have to develop my concentration, because I can quickly loose my patience – I just like the knockout a bit too much sometimes, you know

TS: Are you going after the world title first hand or are you focused on the EBU belt? You have just advanced to the No. 4 position in the EBU, so what do you think yourself?

MK: Well, as you’ve said, I’m now No. 4 in the EBU, so a fight for the European title is under normal circumstances much, much closer than a world title fight. And that’s the route I feel I should go, doing it the traditional way. But, as I said, I’ll be ready for whatever my manager tells me.

TS: You have boxed a number of times in Poland. Are you of Hungarian or Polish decent?

MK: No, no, I'm a born-and-bread Magyar! ButI like Polish people! And Germans, of course (laughs) The two nations of Hungary and Poland arevery close, because of the history, but the reason I fought so much in Poland is that Chris (promoter Krzysztof Zbarski) is Polish and promotes there.

TS: How old were you when you started boxing, and were you ever good in any other sports?

MK: I started boxing whenI was 16 years old, but before that I did weight lifting and actually was Hungarian junior champion. The big difference is that in weight lifting you are not directly competing against others, so that sport does not give you the adrenaline rush that smashing your opponents face does

TS: Do you prefer tough-fighting brawlers or stylish technicians when you are fighting?

MK: Really, I don’t care that much. I don’t even ask that many questions once Olaf has selected an opponent. I know he knows what he’s doing and then it’s up to me to find the way to beat them.

TS: Do you have any role models in boxing - past or present - that you sort of look up to?

MK: Shane Mosley is my favorite, the way he carries himself in and out of the ring. However, I wouldn’t go as far as calling him my role model, because I’m a grown-up, married man and don’t need anybody to look up to. And when it comes to boxing, I only try to be the best I can be and not be like someone else.

TS: Are you comfortable at your weight or could we see you climbing up in years to come?

MK: Right now, my weight is quite stable, no problems. I don't think I need to change divisons in the foreseeable future.

TS: You boxed in the US in November, tell me about that experience!

MK: Now that I fought in Las Vegas, the home of professional boxing, I can see why all the boxers want togo to America. I’m really grateful to have been handed that opportunity and now feel that you have never really been a fighter if you haven’t fought in America. Though I must admit that I probably didn’t exactly impress the US fans, the things that I learned and the experience - I never ever forget the Morales vs Ayala fight (main event on the show Kotai fought) – is something money can’t buy.

TS: Who is your closest friend in boxing?

MK: Among boxers, Zsolt Erdei, the current WBO Intercontinental champion. We know each other for a long time.

TS: What was your profession before you started boxing?

MK: My original profession was a butcher. Now that I’m thinking of it, how do you think that would sound as a nickname (smiles)? Now, of course, I’m a full-time pro and it feels to me like I have always been.

TS: What pushes you on? Is it the opportunity to make a lot of money or is it for the glory of once becoming a world champion?

MK: It’s a little bit of both, I would say. When you become champion, you become rich and famous, so one don’t go without the other.

TS: Do you believe that your weight category is the toughest there is?

MK: Well, except the heavyweights I do actually think my weight division is the toughest. Why? Because many good boxers recently are moving up to 154 lbs fromlower weights.

TS: Give me three reasons why you are destined to become a world champion!

MK: No. I do everything to achieve my goal! Whatever it takes. Second, I'm working hard and you can really believe that, and finally I trust my management and my promoter. They know their job, because they have been where I want to get.

TS:Is there anyone else in your family who boxes?

MK: My father in the past did some boxing and my younger brother, too, but it turned out I’m the one with the most talent in the family.

TS: Tell me about how you were offered your professional contract! A Hungarian with a German manager and a Polish promoter fighting all over the world sounds a bit exotic. How did it happen?

MK: Laszlo Veres is sort of my guardian from way back in the amateurs. When it became time for me to continue my career in the paid ranks, he contacted Olaf in Germany, as Laszlo and Olaf shortly before started to work together and Laszlo knew that we needed a good, international team to go anywhere. Olaf then signed me to a managerial contract and in quick time he negotiated a promotional deal with Chris who runs Polish Boxing Promotion. I agree it’s an unusual constellation, but it has so many advantages for me.

TS: Finally, I mostly cover Scandinavian events. What do you think of Scandinavian pro boxing? What do you know of it?

MK:I don’t knowtoo much, to be honest! I know there is no pro boxing in Sweden and Norway due to some stupid and antique law. But the Danish boxing scene seems very healthy. As I said before, Olaf sends me to train there with his fighters from Team Vester. During that time, Michael Rask and I became something like friends. He's a very good boxer! But he has a big problem: He fights at my weightjust joking

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