NEW YORK – Charalampos Grigoriou is a professional fighter from Paphos, Cyprus who after a successful career in Europe decided to move to the Big Apple to conquer his biggest dream: to compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He spoke to The National Herald about his life and work. From a very young age, Grigoriou started developing a passion for martial arts.
“Nobody in my family has any fighting background. I fell in love martial arts since I was a kid and I never felt scared of fighting. I think of it as a game. And as in every game there is going to be only one winner. Therefore I don’t feel bad about my opponent because I know that at the end of the day it’s either me or him,” he told TNH.
Grigoriou was introduced to karate at the age of 7, in 1999, which led him to many competitions and honorable distinctions in his home country, as well as Europe. He became Cyprus karate champion at the age of 10. He won the champion’s title in the Panhellenic karate championship twice, in 2004 and 2005 which took place in Athens, Greece. In 2007, he was one of the athletes who represented Cyprus and competed in the black-belt division at the European Karate Championship in Poland. Grigoriou and his team attained an astonishing 5th place finish for Cyprus out of the 20 other European countries in the championship.
After graduating high school and during his military service, Grigoriou advanced his fighting training by taking kickboxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) classes. In the very beginning, he competed in the amateur division in which he successfully won 3 of his opponents. Two years later, because of his great passion for kickboxing and martial arts, he found himself competing in the professional division.
In 2014, he participated in the Pancyprian MMA Championship, which took place in his home country. He won the Cyprus MMA champion’s title, by defeating title-holder Mario Zinonos. On August 6, 2016, he defeated Panagioti Sophocleous and won the World Kickboxing Network Organization belt. That was a highlight in his martial arts career, as he was announced the Pancyprian Kickboxing Champion.
During his tourist visit to the US, he realized that this country has a lot to offer to a martial arts athlete. With the help of his family, he participated in his first kickboxing competition in the U.S., The Battle of the Millennium which took place in Brooklyn, New York. Grigoriou impressed the judges, coaches, and the audience with his amazing performance, talent, and determination. After his debut in Brooklyn, Grigoriou was approached by Louis Neglia, one of the biggest promoters in the fighting industry, who offered him a collaboration. The collaboration allowed Grigoriou to participate in two fights that took place at the Tropicana in Atlantic City and one fight at Madison Square Garden.
“As an athlete I like the opportunities that this city and country have to offer. I miss my life back home though. In an ideal world, I would like to be able to live there and compete here,” he said.
Grigoriou concluded, “I would like to thank my uncle, Savas Tsivicos, and my cousin Charalampos Tsivikos for their kind support and love. I would have never made it here today without their help.”