Tatami Fighter Profile: An Interview with Anatoli Kuschnir
Can you tell our members when and how you got started in martial arts?
Toli: Well it was actually a coincidence. My Mom won a voucher for a TaeKwon Do lesson at Christmas party and so the next monday I went to try out Taekwon Do. From the very first minute I fell in love with the sport. After 3 years of Taekwon Do, I started point fighting at the same club and the rest is history…
You have done incredibly well in the world of points fighting, who coached you and when did you start to realise that you would go far in the sport?
Toli: My first Coach was the sister of Keshia (my fiancée). 
It’s difficult to say, but after the first tournament I competed in, there was nothing else in my head then getting the first place at the next tournament.
Your fiancée, Keshia, is also a formidable points fighter... how did you two meet?
Toli: We met at the club where we both started Kickboxing. She was 6, I was 9. 
(Photo credit: Em's Photos UK)
If you don’t mind us asking, what are your plans for the wedding? Is there a date?
Toli: With the current situation with coronavirus, it’s very difficult to say.
Our current plans are to get married this year on the 13th of November and in summer 2021, our plan is to celebrate with our family and friends. 
Tell our readers all about your club, The Fight Smart Kickbox Academy.
Toli: The Fight Smart Kickbox Academy (FSKA), is my heart.
I opened this club in 2015 with 3 students. Now we have 125 students.
I teach classes every evening and I love every minute of it. The people are great and very passionate about the sport. We have 4 members from FSKA in the national squad of WAKO Germany and our club won a lot of medals at national and international tournaments so I couldn’t be happier. At the end of this year we will get a brand new dojo (around 600m²) so there is a lot of looking forward to. 
(Photo credit: Em's Photos UK)
You are the captain of Top Ten Germany. Explain more about the role, how you got it and about the set up of the team.
Toli: When I was younger, it was always my dream to join the TopTen Team Germany while looking up to fighters like Harald Schmid & Zvonko Gribl, who were on the team at the time. When I was 20 years old, I applied for a spot on the team. I was lucky and the former Team coach allowed me to join the team. From this point on, I worked very hard. In 2015 I became the Captain of the team because I was very good at organising things. Year on year, our team has gotten stronger and stronger and now we can proudly say that we are one of the best point fighting teams in the World.
Our members will be dying to know, who would say are your toughest opponents out there and why?
Toli: Well, I respect all of my opponents. It’s always a hard fight, no matter who you fight. Every fighter is unique and you have to dominate their style to win the fight. In the last few years I have had a lot of hard fights with Roman Bründl. I fight him at almost every tournament because we are in the same divisions (89kg & 94kg). So he is definitely one of my toughest opponents.
Last year it was Elijah Everill. I fought with him in 5 Grand Champion Finals at the big WAKO tournaments. These guys are probably my toughest opponents right now.
(Photo credit: Em's Photos UK)
What has been your best and favourite achievement to date so far?
Toli: That’s very difficult to say. As a coach, there is no doubt that my biggest achievement and my proudest moment was when Keshia won the Irish Open Grand Champion in 2019.
As a fighter there are a lot of achievements I’m proud of but my first WAKO European Championship in 2016 where I took gold is one of them.
COVID-19 has caused worldwide chaos, how have you kept fit?
Toli: Yes, we are in a very difficult situation. There are no tournaments, no training with other team members, so it’s pretty hard. But now is the time where you can work on things which you don’t need a partner for like conditioning, mental strength and speed. So I try to train and to stay positive every day. We have two live sessions per week with my FSKA Members, a Session a week with TopTen Team Germany and an open session for all the international fighters who wants to train with us. So there are 4 days with training via Zoom and then I try to go out for a run once a week. Finally there is one day I focus on working with my Kettlebells and my body weight, and one day where I focus on mobility, flexibility & study fights on youtube.
What do you think the right move is for going back to training and competitions for the sport of kickboxing?
Toli: Since I’m not an expert, I wouldn’t say that something is right or wrong.
I just hope that the people will stay strong and be patient to get through this whole situation. Remember, we are all in this together. So keep working for yourself and when the time is there, be ready, that’s it. You can’t do more now.
(Photo credit: Em's Photos UK)
Are you going to represent Germany at any further WAKO Championships? 
Toli: Well I hope so. The plan was to get back on the team for this year’s Europeans as that is the qualification tournament for the World Combat Games in 2021. But we don’t know right now if there will be any WAKO tournaments this year. However, I still have one goal left; the WAKO Worlds, so yes, I’m definitely will try to be on the team for 2021.
Finally, if you could fight any points fighter, from any time, in a ‘legends match’ who would you pick and why?
Toli: Brilliant question. There are a lot of legends of our sport I would love to fight and I learnt so much from so many of them. But if I had to pick one, it would be probably Morten Spissoy from Norway. He was my Idol when I was younger and now we are good friends. Unfortunately I never had the chance to fight him at a tournament.
Thank you for your time Toli, we really appreciate it and good luck for your goals both on and off the mat in the next year.
Anatoli kuschnir