Sajad Ganjzadeh: the gentle Grand Winner making the world a better place through Karate
Iran Sajad Ganjzadeh is one of the most imposing figures of international Karate. Iran’s Sajad Ganjzadeh is one of the most imposing figures of international Karate. A frontrunner in the heavyweight category, Ganjzadeh has acquired a well-deserved reputation for his striking presence and his powerful and fearsome performances on the tatami. However, when he is out of the Karate mat, his kindness, gentleness, and the strength of his Karate Values are what truly stand out. “I am extremely happy that I could meet my Karate family this weekend. It has been a whole year without international events, and it was great to share experiences again with my Karate friends from all over the world,” said Sajad Ganjzadeh who will fight for the gold medal in the category of Male Kumite +84kg at the 2021 Karate 1-Premier League Istanbul As the first international competition since the pandemic outbreak, the Karate 1-Premier League Istanbul being held this weekend is a celebration of the sport. Sajad Ganjzadeh is causing a sensation in Istanbul with a dominant performance during the elimination rounds. “My last competitions were not very good for me; I didn’t do very well. But today everything changed. I did great since the first bout and I am glad that I can be in the final. I will do my best in the final and I hope that I can win gold,” added the current Grand Winner who is the defending World Championships runner-up. Sajad Ganjzadeh scored 15 points on the way to the final and edged Gogita Arkania of Georgia in the semi-finals by “Hantei” or decision (0-0). It is his first qualification for a Karate 1-Premier League final since his victory at the 2019 Karate 1-Premier League Madrid. “I want to continue making the best of my performances and I hope that I can qualify for the Olympic Games,” said the 29-year-old athlete, currently in third place of the Olympic Standings and thus in a qualifying position to be in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. KARATE VALUES AS LIFE FORCE While many used the pandemic to make life-changing decisions, Sajad Ganjzadeh decided that it was time to help others. “When we stopped the competitions because of the pandemic, I did not need to train as hard as I used to, and it did me good because I needed to rest. Then, I had time to think things over, and I realised that there was nothing better for me to do than helping others,” said Ganjzadeh with a soft voice contrasting his imposing presence. The giant karateka joined an organisation that works to cover basic necessities for people in need. The athlete who is in position 2 of WKF World ranking launched an advocacy campaign on social media during the hardest moments of the pandemic to provide meals, housing, and schooling for people in need. “It was a great experience for me. I joined them to be able to help, I just want to help. We do what we can do but I think that even the smallest thing can make a huge difference,” said Ganjzadeh who reflects on the importance of athletes playing their part. “When we are on the tatami, we karateka have a clear goal in mind. We know exactly what it is that we want to achieve whether it is to be the best in our city or the best in our country. But when I look back, all I see is people with problems, people in need. And I think ‘thank you, God, for all my blessings, for my family, for my friends, for everything that I have” Ganjzadeh points out. “But then I think ‘what can I do to help?"