A man of sports opens up about life and career
Raul Cătinaș is a big name in K1. In an exclusive interview that he gave for our publication ‚ Casino Life & Business Magazine’, he spoke candidly about his life and career.
– You are 25 and have already in kickboxing for almost 10 years. You started it at 16 – what’s your story?
– At first, I went to a gym center to learn self-defense, as I was by myself most of the time and had no one to protect me. I would get into conflicts with my mates, friends, people around neighborhoods. So I decided to go to a place where to learn techniques to defend, to take care of myself. Everything started back then. In time, I felt more attracted to this sport and started dreaming, like becoming a K1 champion.
– How did you get your nickname of ‚Iron Raul’?
– There were a few games at the beginning when I was fighting against stronger competitors, better ranked than me. Even though I was losing all the games, they were kicking all over the place, I would be still standing at the end and continue to fight. They were amazed, both the audience and the opponents, that I not defeated and was like a rock. This is where I got my nickname from, that I am the iron man.
– You have also broken a record. In 2010, you were the youngest fighter at K-1 World Grand Prix – Final 16 in Seul, at only 22 years old. Tell us more about it.
– In 2010, I had a pretty good year for the first six months, then a time of decline when I did not train for many months. In September, I found out that I was among the first 16 players in the world. I did train for about two-three weeks and went there. It was a real honor for me and an absolute happiness, it was my dream come true. Unfortunately, my training was not enough for winning, so I lost. That was one of the worst loss in my career. Especially that I wore my father’s picture on my shirt, wanted to make him a gift.
– Tell us about your experience in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where you spent some time. After that, you came back to Romania and chose Respect Gym. Why did you go to Alin Panaite’s in Romania?
– Many people have asked me this question. The simple reason is that I have known Alin Panaite for a very long, long time. In 2008, I trained for a few months at his gym and this is why I chose to come here. I got along very well with Alin and I like this place a lot.
– What is the game that left an unforgettable impression on you?
– Of all the games I have had so far, the one that I will never forget is the one against Stefan Leko. And I am have been saying to this day, it was not me fighting that game. It was God’s hand, because I do not remember anything from that event. The only thing I remember was Stefan Leko on the floor, me in my corner while looking at him and could not believe my eyes that he was not getting up. I definitely think that it was God who helped me there.
– What are your professional targets?
– The best thing I want to do is to become the good kid I used to be and train as much as I was doing when younger. It was at that time when I broke those records I remembered about earlier. To go back to that spot, to be more reliable, stop being disappointed with life and some other stuff I went through. I want to give everything out of me as I used to, because this is the only way I can get back to the top. I am positive about it.
– Which Romanian fighter do you admire and why?
– I do not have any from Romania. Not because I would be egotistic, but… I admire Daniel Ghita, he worked hard and made sacrifices. I know how it is to be away from family, friends, everyone. He made this sacrifice but he made it well.
– Is there a sports man from here or abroad who influences your career?
– I like Mike Tyson most and nobody else. I like him so much that I got a tattoo of him.
– What are your plans for this fall, end of the year in terms of competitions?
– I have a game scheduled for November 2. I still do not know my opponent. After three or four months off, it is hard to get back in shape. It will be rather difficult to have any victories this year, time is short and the other have trained all year. I have not but I hope for a happy ending.
– Coach Thom Harinck was describing you as the only superheavy weight white fighter who kicks like a black one. What are your aces as a fighter?
– When I started, I was training with a decent coach, in a modest gym center, in a small town, but my main thing was my will. I have a will of iron. Even though I was feeling I could not go farther, I was going farther. Losing was not an option for me.
– You have tattooes with Mike Tyson and Napoleon Bonaparte? Why them?
– I have been looking up to Mike Tyson since my childhood. I was coaching with Marcel Dragan, my first trainer in flesh and bones. But I also another imaginary one, who was Mike Tyson. Every day, after or before my training, I was watching videoclips with Mike Tyson – how he was training, fighting, anything. I was focused on his left hook – this is why I have the tattoo on my left arm – which I have ‚stolen’ from him. As for Napoleon, he is under the sign of Leo with an ascendant in Scorpio, just like me. And I found other facts in his life that are similar with mine.
– What does Raul Cătinaș do outside the ring and the gym center?
– I love having fun, feeling good. I do a lot of things. For example, I play snooker, soccer, trying to live my live somehow, as I has skipped my childhood. While other children were playing, I had to go to train, did not like those times very much. Now, I am trying to catch up with all that, do some things I had never done, even though I know that certain things have a certain age. If you do them later, they do not matter much any more.
– What is it that the people do not know about Iron Paul and you would like them to find out?
– There are plenty of things that the people would love to know, they may understand me better, would realize why I have make my mistakes or taken certain steps in life. But this is not the right time. I will surely tell you when it comes. I may become a champion and will want to write a book about my life.
– A message for the readers of our publication ‚Casino Life & Business Magazine’.
– I wish them to stay healthy and have everything they want in their life.