On Friday, I visited the gym of the former world champion kickboxer Cezary Podraza in Sosnowiec, Poland. Arriving in Poland earlier in the week, Sosnowiec is a two-hour train ride from central Warsaw. It was a relatively frosty day as we watched the lush green forest landscape pass by through the train window.
Arriving in Sosnowiec, Cezary was kind enough to meet us at the train station and take us for lunch before visiting the gym. His generous nature and good sense of humour immediately stood out. Since we had just eaten a big meal, training ourselves wasn’t an option when we got to the gym. But it was interesting to check out all the photos and memorabilia dotted around the gym, including Cezary’s collection of belts.
Retiring from fighting in 2005, Cezary was a seven-time world champion and the first person in the history to win the prestigious World Kickboxing Network belt.
These days, in addition to training members of the police force and Polish star Tomasz Makowski, his focus is teaching the younger generation of up and coming Polish fighters. Talking to him about training his group of kids, you can see that he is passionate about their learning and development. They fight in competitions all over the world, including the World Martial Arts Games in Geneva.
Following our visit, Cezary was headed for Thailand. Next stop for me is Brussels, then Athens.