By Tudor Leonte
Patrick Habirora made sure people will remember his name after the IMMAF European Championships.
Habirora had some bad luck in his previous IMMAF appearances, but now the results are on his side, finally. The Belgium Team standout is catching everyone’s attention thanks to resonating victories two days in a row in the welterweight tournament.
On Day 1, Habirora dispatched Czech Republic’s Vaclav Zemia thanks to a nine-second knockout. After crediting his team, Naja Team, for their support and help, Habirora confessed that he spent the last months preparing for this event.
“I prepared for two months, no days off, two times a day, every day. I swear on God, my trainer pushed me so hard. As a matter of fact, the first time I competed in the IMMAF championships, I always lost in the first round. People didn’t believe in me. Now, in my first year as a senior, I scored two knockouts in two fights. I proved I deserve my place here. I’m proud of myself right now.”
On Day 2, Habirora repeated himself by bringing his A-list performance to defeat Arturo Aedillo. His second assignment lasted more than the first one but didn’t go the distance. Habirora stopped his Spanish opponent with punches in the second round.
“In the first round, I touched him with my right hand. He had some troubles, but he’s really experienced and a really strong fighter. My coach told me, ‘You’re not gonna get him in the first one, but maybe in Round 2.’
I proved to people I can wrestle, too. In the last 30 seconds, I didn’t want to work on the ground. I wanted him to get tired and drop his guard. Every time he touched me, I felt nothing. In the second round, I fainted to take him down, and I connected.”
In his previous IMMAF experiences, Habirora never went beyond the first bout in the brackets. This year, the wind changed. Habirora feels like he has the right maturity and attitude to aim for a medal.
“I really wish people don’t think it was just luck. I did it twice in a row, people saw it was no luck. It’s just hard work because I’m not gifted. I’m not gifted. I just worked my a** off to get there.”
Watch the 2022 IMMAF European Championships live and exclusively from Bella Italia Efa Village in Lignano Sabbiadoro (Italy) from 27 September and 1 October 2022 at immaf.tv, with the tournament draw taking place on 26 September.