IMMAF ATHLETE TO WATCH: MAGDALENA CZABAN [2021 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS]

London: Hailing from Poland, IMMAF rising star Magdalena Czaban is set to consolidate her transition from the junior to senior ranks at the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s 2021 European Open Championships, which takes place next week from 16 to 20 August in Kazan (Russia).

Bursting onto the international amateur scene to achieve a gold medal in the 2019 Junior European Championships, the women’s atomweight proceeded to scoop another gold medal at the subsequent Junior Worlds that year. 2020 saw Czaban step up to senior level for the smaller Oceania Open Championships just prior to the pandemic. A nonetheless competitive finals bout with reigning Senior World Champion Bezan Mahmudi of Sweden saw her walk away with silver. Czaban currently stands as #1 junior atomweight and #11 pound-for-pound athlete in the World Amateur MMA Rankings.

MAGDALENA CZABAN’s STORY

Standing at just 155cm tall, Poland’s Magdalena Czaban does not fit the stereotype traditionally associated with MMA fighters. However, this does not make her less of a threat to her opposition when the cage doors close.

The 21-year-old, also known as “The Powerpuff Girl,” is a former Junior Atomweight World Champion who has demonstrated through her success that regardless of size, shape, or gender, MMA is a sport that is open and accessible to all.

 “A lot of people when they see me, and I tell them that I train MMA and that I am a skilled fighter, who has won matches, are shocked, and I think a lot of people when they learn this, think they can also give it a try,” Czaban says. “A lot of girls write to me, saying it’s great that I train, and they also want to train in MMA and asking me what they have to do to start training. “

Czaban was introduced to MMA by a classmate of hers while in high school. She was a runner and thought it would be helpful to incorporate gym work into her athletic routine. After she began attending training sessions, it did not take long before her natural talent shone through.

“My trainer saw me on the mats, and I had just started training MMA, and he asked if I had previously trained in something like boxing, wrestling, or grappling. I told him I hadn’t, and he was shocked. So, we started working together, and have been working together ever since, which was six years ago.”

 What drew Czaban to MMA was the variety of disciplines that the sport incorporates. Whether it was grappling, striking, or BJJ, the more Czaban’s knowledge grew, the more her passion for MMA deepened.

 “When I was in high school, I wanted to learn everything, and now I know that’s impossible because MMA is something we spend our whole lives learning,” she explains. “Back in high school, I just wanted to train. I didn’t know then that I would be a European Champion and Junior World Champion. I just wanted to learn and have fun.”

After finishing high school, Czaban decided to dedicate more time to MMA and started training twice a day as she looked to develop her skill set. She also began studying physical education at the University of Krakow while working part-time.

 “It is very difficult for me to balance all of this, but the lecturers at the university are very understanding. Sometimes, unfortunately, 24 hours in a day is not enough. However, I believe that education is important, and I would like to finish my studies. “

For Czaban, her training, study, and work routine can, at times, be more challenging than competing at tournaments. Thankfully, she has a strong network of support around her, from which she draws strength.

 “This sport has shown me that I can achieve anything with the right people around me. I have become an open-minded and very confident person. I now also appreciate the free moments in which I can cut myself off from the whole world and focus on the little things that make me happy.”

Czaban’s most recent competitive appearance was in Australia, at last year’s Oceania Championships, where she collected silver in the women’s senior atomweight division. Now, after a year of lockdowns and cancelled events, due to Covid-19, “The Powerpuff Girl” is finally able to return to action when she competes at next week’s IMMAF European Championships in Kazan, Russia.

 “I am really excited and looking forward to it. The last time I had the opportunity to compete in the international arena was last March,” she says. “I hope that I can show the skills that I have been working so hard on for the past one and a half years.”

 Czaban harbours dreams of turning professional, but the focus now is on her amateur career and getting that little bit better each time that she steps foot inside the cage.

“If I go pro, I have to be prepared for everything; striking, wrestling, grappling, for every situation. In amateur competitions like IMMAF, if I have the skills to make it to the final, I will have had three to four fights in a week. I think this is the best way to gain experience.”

IMMAF fans should get used to hearing Czaban’s name. It looks set to be one spoken of a lot in the coming years.

By Michael Clifton 

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