Russian fight journalist Kirill Novikov (IG: kickboxingtv) caught up with young Russian sensation Vladislav “Diamond” Tuinov.
The now 22-year-old took the international kickboxing scene by storm with solid power, flashy techniques, and a series of solid performances in the W5 organisation.
Tuinov’s talent caught the eye of staff of larger kickboxing promotions, GLORY Kickboxing and China-based Kunlun Fight.
The youngster has competed in China and is currently fighting for GLORY Kickboxing.
Kirill spoke to Vlad about a number of topics, read on to learn Vlad’s thoughts on training during the pandemic, fighting for GLORY and Kunlun Fight, and MORE!
Vlad Tuinov Interview by Kirill Novikov
During the pandemic, when all the world’s best kickboxing promotions put tournaments on pause, the information space was filled with news about the transition of fighters from one organization to another, about kickboxer’s personal lives, ratings (of varying degrees of authority), as well as various rumors and “inside information”, some of which deserved attention but required careful rechecking.
One such rumor concerned the termination of Vlad Tuinov’s contract with the GLORY organization.
We decided to personally contact Vlad to ask him directly about the rumor, and at the same time ask about future plans, training during the period of self-isolation, and his performances in China.
Vlad, hello. Let’s start with a topic that has been exciting the whole world for several months. Did the coronavirus change your plans? How did you keep fit during quarantine? At present, when the lockdown has eased, have you already entered into a full training process and started sparring?
Unfortunately, everything was very difficult because the gyms were closed, as you know. Everything was more in home mode.
I also trained on the street (and) went to remote places where there are fewer people. This mode kept me in shape.
Now, we have switched to a daily training regime but one time a day, because there is no point in progressing physically now. We are improving only in the technical aspect.
We can say that the form was kept. There are small difficulties in terms of weight because the muscles grew and the activity decreased.
So, weight (was) gained but I would not say that I became straight fat. Still, there is no understanding when (is) the next fight-the next start and what to prepare for. So for now, we just keep ourselves in good shape. As soon as there is any clarity, we will start training for a certain fight.
Are you currently training in the gym or on the street?
Currently, teams are allowed to train in the gyms of sports schools but unfortunately our Committee cannot provide such conditions. That’s why our team usually trains at the fitness gym. Since the work of fitness gyms is still prohibited , I can’t train in the gym. We have to do it on the street.
Do you manage to conduct sparring sessions?
There are difficulties in terms of athletes for sparring. We usually bring athletes from other regions. We have already twice done training camps with the guys from Nizhny Novgorod. Good guys, the first numbers of Russia team. We could progress with them.
Unfortunately, there are not many guys in our city who will agree to come to sparring in principle, and it will be difficult to find a decent level. Now there is no talk about sparring at all because we don’t know what to prepare for yet.
Vlad, as far as I know, you are engaged in conditioning according to the Seluyanov system (a system for muscular endurance training developed by Russian sport scientist Victor Selouyanov). Tell me, how did you come to this? What interested you about that? What successes have you achieved?
I started learning about the lab from social networks when I was 16-17 years old. I studied. I was very interested in it because I wanted to develop-to become strong. I was light and wanted to compete in the 70 kg weight category.
As a result, I grew and my weight increased, and now I have to “dry out” in this weight category.
Then, I used in my training processes what I drew from the Internet, and our team tried it.
There was a lot of information on the Internet, and it seemed that we had a complete understanding of what it should look like. When we started working with the laboratory, we got even more information, explanations, and we can now more correctly use all the knowledge to the maximum.
I hadn’t been able to do this fully before. After the Kunlun Grand Prix, I had problems in terms of recovery processes for the fight.
I overloaded myself before the tournament. In the fight with Denis Zuev, I sank a little in functionality. The team and I decided to find laboratory contacts and work directly with them.
We started working with Pro Sport lab, and I can say that we took my functional training to a new level. There were of course difficulties with the weight cut.
The laboratory advised us to change the weight category because there are a lot of muscles in the body, and their loss during the weight cut will inevitably lead to a loss of condition. And now we have decided that we will change the weight-we will listen to the advice that we were given earlier.
Up to 77 kg?
In Glory, yes, the next weight is 77 kg. I don’t know how everything will go there. I have a contract for 70 kg.
If Glory gives the go-ahead to boxing in 77, (and) if everything goes well, the borders open, and Glory will organize a fight for me, then maybe you will see me again this year. So far, this is all under negotiation.
Is your contract with Glory still open? It’s just that there are rumors that you and Glory have ended your relationship.
I had a 2-year contract with Glory. I will remain with the organization until January 2021. All my fights, as well as some media things, I have to coordinate with this organization.
Therefore, I have difficulties both in terms of speaking to other organizations, and in terms of spreading myself in the media.
We have no interest in extending this contract yet because it is very difficult to work with Glory.
At this point, we want to be free agents, which we were before we signed with Glory. We will box where it is convenient for us.
Fill fights, experience, and perhaps, in the future, when I am already a seasoned professional with a record for 100 fights, I will once again try myself in Glory.
What were the difficulties in working with Glory?
First of all, it is getting at least some information from the organization. You are requesting permission to participate in a particular tournament (I can do this under the contract, but we need to agree).
And you have three months to do it, and Glory just doesn’t give you an answer for a month. You’re always in limbo.
Glory sends out fight offers very late. The earliest fight notification is in a month. Usually, it’s two or three weeks. And you, being in this organization (and last year I spent only three fights in glory), must constantly keep yourself in great shape…Constantly be ready for the fact that you may be sent an offer to fight. And (you) still need to make weight.
This is very difficult. I’ve spoken to a lot of athletes from Glory, and a lot of them have a similar situation. I understand there are a lot of fighters but I would like a different attitude from the organization.
We bring money to the organization. We are media people who bring the organization popularity and new fans. And there is simply no respect for the organization’s fighters.
What do you think this attitude depends on? I know several representatives of the organization who are absolutely happy with the conditions provided in Glory.
I think it depends on the interest of the organization itself in the athlete- on the place of residence of the athlete. Glory is very much pulling up the Dutch fighters. And not necessarily Dutch-fighters of any nationality living in the Netherlands.
It is easier for them to contact the head of the organization: they can train in the same gym, go to the same store, and even basically be neighbors. It is much easier to build communication in this way.
Regarding the importance of the fighter for the organization… If the organization’s fighter is interesting, they will hold on to it. If they see a prospect, an opportunity to make money on a fighter, they will squeeze the most out of the fighter. Therefore, some of the fighters are happy with the conditions and some face difficulties.
This is the second time we have encountered difficulties. The first time we sat for 5 months without fighting and terminated the contract. This time, we sat for 7 months without fighting but could not terminate the contract.
We got the debut and tried ourselves, and we decided to finalize the contract. Now, I hope that we will not have any problems with Glory to leave the organization, and I will start to appear more often in the ring. I will show myself more often in social networks, some programs, TV shows, and so on. We are going to develop. We are going to progress.
So you made the final decision to end your relationship with this organization?
At the moment, I do not see any prospects for my development in this organization.
I only had three fights in the promotion. Until the end of the contract, I will have at most one more fight.
For two years, 4 fights – this is very small considering that I used to hold 7 fights. And there were 10 fights. I want to grow and progress. I want to win the World Title, the European Title. During our contract with Glory, we had about 10 offers to fight for World Titles in different versions.
WAKO PRO, ISKA, WKF … Kunlun Fight was very much waiting for us when they played the (KLF Intercontinental) title in the four. And all of this fell apart just because we had a contract with Glory. In short, I want to box but we just sit there and can’t do it.
Vlad, if we compare the conditions of Kunlun and Glory, which organization is preferable for you?
For me of course, Kunlun is more convenient although there are longer flights.
First of all, I like the organization’s respect for the fighters. They try to do everything so the fighters feel calm, do not think about anything, and can fully express themselves at the tournament.
On the financial side, both organizations are willing to pay, but we have a closer relationship with Kunlun. Better conditions-and somewhere even Kunlun can give us more favorable terms with money.
For us, the first place is still the relationship: direct communication with the owner of the organization and a cool team that gives the correct understanding of all the nuances.
For example, in Glory, you never know where you should be now, previous or later. You are constantly fined for going somewhere one minute late, and you are in some kind of tension until the tournament itself.
Upon arrival in Kunlun, you are given a list that indicates where and at what time you should be and what to do. This list is translated into three languages: Russian, English, and Chinese.
They tie a translator to you who goes everywhere with you, translates everything, explains everything. And you understand that people are responsible.
In Glory, this is left to chance. They believe that the athlete should know all this for himself. Also, the difference can be seen in small things, such as food.
Glory just gives you a daily allowance of money so that you can organize your own meals. Kunlun also selects high-quality food so that the athlete is fed and fed, and does not think where to go and where to eat.
Either you are fed directly in the hotel, or if the hotel does not feed, a car comes for you and takes you to a good place where you can definitely eat.
These are small things but they are very pleasant. And you understand the organizer takes a responsible approach to their work. There are also disadvantages, but for me, Kunlun is certainly much closer than Glory.
And not just because of the fact that I was more successful there. Sometimes, I lost there. There were also misunderstandings in terms of refereeing decisions. And it has happened more than once. I like the very attitude within the organization. For example, communication with the boss.
Tell more about it…
We constantly communicate with the owner. He’ll find out how I’m doing, and I’ll find out how he’s doing. This is even though I don’t have a business relationship with Kunlun right now. We have friendly relations. We communicate very well.
For comparison. In the Glory organization, you email your question to some secretary and then wait for it to be considered within a week. And you think, ‘how much do they need to do to get basic information about the next performances?’
Also after you’ve been in China, you get a lot of material from your trips: great photos, videos…You can use all this in your social networks and thus increase your own media popularity.
With Glory, the situation is slightly different. I have already had three fights here but if I find at least 10 good photos from these fights…it will be very cool.
You ask for a photo from the fight, and you get it in 3-4 months or you don’t get it at all. And you think ‘do I have anything to put out to prove that I was in glory?’
When I went to the debut match, I did a photo shoot with Glory. The pictures came out great. I left my e-mail address to the photographer and asked them to send this photo to me.
I waited six months but he didn’t give it to me. I wrote to him weekly,he just ignored me…Read my messages but did not send photos.
As a result, I received them from a completely different place: Glory’s Brazilian Instagram account. Not through an official source. They were not in very good resolution but at least some of the material was received. It is all good.
Vlad, does Glory have any advantages over Kunlun? You’ve already signed there twice. How?
The Glory organization has one big advantage: working with American television (UFC Fight Pass). You can also highlight the media factor: they are much more visible in social networks. The Chinese are more focused on their own side.
At the same time, I am still much more recognizable in China than in Europe. When I arrive there, they take pictures with me right at the airport and whole teams of fans come to meet me. You fly there and realize that the people there are fans of this sport.
I once performed at a stadium and I witnessed this picture: a group of people stood with scissors to cut off a piece of the suit that I arrived in. They are fans. I usually took photos with them for 2-3 hours after the tournament, roughly speaking. I paid tribute to the fans who came to watch the tournament.
And people always thank, praise, recognize, and rejoice when they meet. However, this also has a disadvantage. Fighting in China, you are only known in China. It is very difficult to spread your fame to the European and American markets, performing only in China.
And what do you think is the reason for this “closedness” of China (in the sense of the spread their kickboxing to the world)?
I don’t really understand it. Perhaps the organization itself has not yet come to this. Perhaps the profit the organization earns from the Chinese market is so large they are simply not interested in going to Europe. They sit in their comfortable market, do fights, pay fighters, and they are happy with it.
For me, Glory has a very big advantage in the fact the organization itself is very media-oriented. This is the first serious organization created after the collapse of K-1.
They did fights for elite kickboxers: Badr Hari, Semmy Shilt, Peter Aerts. Then Rico Verhoeven appeared.
And that’s why Glory has a certain authority. Perhaps with some reservations, but authority. And by boxing in this promotion, you get a name. You’ve been boxing in one of the best organizations in the world! Well, their media is much broader than in China.
Vlad, tell me how your relationship with Glory started in the first place. Who initiated it?
It turned out we almost simultaneously received three offers: Kunlun, One Championship, and Glory. In One FC, we were not immediately satisfied with the conditions because it was somehow inadequate. They offered one fight a year. We thought it wasn’t wise. Kunlun had difficulties in organizing, and we decided to try to sign to Glory. A year later, we signed with the organization.
Ok. And what do you think about One Championship now? Don’t you want to jump in there later?
In General, we have an offer from them now. It’s not bad but I don’t want to sign long-term contracts. For now, I want to be a free agent, box in various tournaments, collect more titles.
Maybe in the future we will sign up for a promotion with a long contract. Before that, we want to have more fights, earn a name, and then we will think about One or Glory.
Do you like how One has been developing lately?
This is a very strong organization that is gaining momentum, invests huge funds in its media, and has an extensive distribution around the world. They’re good. If they will act in the same way, they can become as big as the UFC.
Now, they are already very powerful in the Asian market. In the future, I think they will win international recognition. They are being talked about more and more often, and we regularly see spectacular performances and dynamics there.
They are one of the first who started doing kick- fights in MMA gloves. This is interesting for both MMA fans and ordinary people who are not so familiar with kickboxing.
Gradually, they see that it is a beautiful stand-up fight. Less fuss, they see a fight: dirt, blood, snot. And people are interested in watching it. Thanks to such organizations, we will be able to win over the public and win new fans of our sport. It is cool that they thus contribute to the development of kickboxing.
Vlad, a question for you, as one of the most powerful media personalities in Russian kickboxing. What do you think is more important for a professional kickboxer and for the development of kickboxing in General: “show a good fight” or, in addition to fights, show yourself in some other way?
If we are talking about development in the sense of monetization of your personality, then you need to understand one simple thing – one fight you will not prove that you are cool and interesting.
The fight is very long and it needs to be watched, it needs time. Unless of course it’s a quick knockout, which you spread as much as possible on social networks. Even then, people will look at you as an athlete. However, that’s not all they’re interested in.
Currently, people are very interested in getting to know the character who enters the ring directly: ‘I wonder what this man is like’.
And when you know how to show it correctly-to show that you can not only fight but also,for example, are a good person- then people will be interested in following you (or) your account.
Someone makes interesting posts, someone makes beautiful photos and videos. There are different ways to do this.
Vlad, how do you feel about trash-talk? Is this thing acceptable?
There must be certain limits. In no case should you offend family, relatives, or religion. And to show a certain disadvantage of your opponent and make it interesting, maybe even humorous – why not?
This is probably necessary for the promotion of our sport. I am not a fan of this. However, I understand that it is necessary, and adds to the public’s interest in what is happening in the ring. In any case, it helps to increase the awareness of our sport, mentions in the media, social networks, and so on. But there must be certain restrictions and limits.
Vlad, now back to Kunlun. You went to the fight with Denis Zuev in a terrible helmet. Tell me, what was this image and how did you come to it?
This was done by the Chinese side. Just during this tournament, the movie “Predator” was released in China and Kunlun advertised this film. I was chosen as a Predator, asked to go out in this helmet. I agreed. It wasn’t my image.
I found it interesting because it gave me a chance to be on all the banners, on posters at the box office, in all the ads that ran on Central television. Why not? For me, it’s nice, cool, and fun.
Many didn’t view it cleverly (and) wrote to me that it cost better training, and not to engage in any nonsense. I don’t agree with that. For me, it’s a buzz that in another country, my personality is interesting.
Vlad, thank you very much for the interview, it was very interesting to talk. I wish you good luck in your future performances and, most importantly, no injuries! Thanks!