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Mike Kurzeja aka “Kujo” began his boxing career between 1990-1993 when he did an internship at the Gary Police Department. There he met boxing coach John Taylor who would later become Mike’s trainer. John Taylor introduced Mike to the Gary Police Athletic League (PAL) gym in Gary, Indiana hooking Mike into the sport of boxing. Since then Mike has been boxing and has been three time champion of the Supercop Boxing tournament causing Mike to turn pro in 2008. He currently holds a record of 3 – 0 as a pro with 3 K.O.’s.
He has a Bachelors Degree in Sociology/Criminal Justice from Valparaiso University and a Masters in Criminal Justice from Lewis University. These degrees led Mike to be a police officer for 12 years and he currently holds a position as a Law Enforcement Agent. Mike is also the proud father of 5 sons between the ages of 2 – 11. We welcome Mike Kurzeja to Team HMB and are excited to get to know more about this accomplished athlete.
Q: Where did the athletic roots of Mike start from?
MK: I have always been athletic and grew up playing sports. (football, basketball, baseball, weight lifting, etc). During High school I raced motorcycles (motocross) and became quite good. I was a Professional Motocross Racer during 1988 - 1989 before deciding to retire and go to school full time in the fall of 1989.
It was during this time at Valparaiso University, I found Coach Taylor and my true passion.
Q: What got you interested in boxing and drove you to get where you are now?
MK: As mentioned above, I found the Gary P.A.L. Boxing gym during my internship at the Gary Police Department. The more I boxed and the more I learned, the more I became obsessed with it. When I started, I really was not very good and I took my share of beatings.Boxing is not for everyone, as no one really enjoys being hit in the face. The difficult and sometimes tortured training is a love hate thing. Sometimes I hate the punishment I put my body through, but at the same time, I love it!!Boxing is a very technical sport and I have improved to the level of a decent super-middle weight pro fighter. I respect the sport and am basically living out a dream.
Q: What do you do in a typical training session?
Mk: I typically box 3 - 4 days a week and strength and condition train the other 3. Boxing days consist of 3 - 4 warm-up rounds of shadow boxing, followed by 4 - 8 rounds of sparring, ending with 4 plus rounds of various bag work or coach work with drill-mitts (usually 15 rounds total/three minute rounds with 30 seconds rest between). I usually end with 10 additional minutes of skipping rope or interval running for a solid hour of training on a boxing day.
Ten minutes of stretching at the end.
Strength and conditioning days consist of 3 - 6 miles of running (mixed up and varied between interval running, endurance running, side step and backwards running).
The majority of my weight training consists of kettle bell exercises which focus on explosive core movements. I also do a variety of core plyometric exercises which are varied to shock my body and keep it guessing.
I usually don't take days off of training. If I do take a day "off" I still usually run 3 - 4 miles on this "off" day.
Q: Do you follow a strict diet in order to stay in the Super Middle-weight class?
MK: Yes: I generally eat a clean and balanced diet. My diet could be described as high protein, moderate carbs, and lower fat.
There is a lot to know about diet and eating properly. I believe "you are what you eat."
When preparing for a fight, I switch the majority of my carbs to fibrous carbs from simple and complex and cut out all refined sugar. It’s pretty easy for me to lose 10 lbs in a short amount of time.
I stay fairly lean all year round. I fight in the Super Middle weight Division (168 lbs) and am usually never more than 15 lbs above my fighting weight.
Q: What is your favorite cheat food from your diet?
MK: I love pizza and ice cream as cheats. I also love to over eat sushi!
Q: What would you say is your strength in the ring?
MK: My strengths are strength and endurance. I have been in many boxing matches where I probably won by wearing an opponent down (I have beaten other fighters who were probably better boxers than me). I have been blessed with good physical abilities. My rigorous training and preparation has carried me a long way.
Q: Do you have a completely different mindset when you step into the ring?
MK: I try to be focused and relaxed. I try to be in control. I never understood the fighters who get all crazy and hyped up before stepping in the ring. For me, that's wasted energy. In any sport, I think it’s counterproductive to be tense and on edge. I try to stay composed, focused, aggressive, but relaxed!
Q: What is that feeling like and how do you prepare right before a fight?
MK: That feeling is what drives me. Knowing you have done all the hard work in the gym prior to the fight makes it fun to actually step into the squared circle.
Besides the obvious physical preparation, I do a variety of mental preparation as well. I believe the mind is a very powerful tool. I do a lot of positive imaging and picture the fight during the training camp. I imagine myself fighting well and of course winning!!
Q: In boxing what has been your most memorable/proud moment?
MK: Winning my First "Supercop" Belt in 2003 was my first memorable moment in boxing (for me this was like winning the Olympics). My second was my first Professional fight (Lifelong dream/accomplishment).
Attempting to be a good father to my children is definitely more memorable and proud though... The day each was born was the four happiest days of my life (I have twins in there). My next happiest day was/is the day they can wipe their own butts!!
Seriously, boxing is not even comparable to being a father. Boxing is very selfish as there is a lot of "me" in boxing. I enjoy it, but keep it in perspective. I know I love boxing because I actually enjoy teaching and training others.
The ultimate would be if one of my sons followed in my footsteps and choose boxing as their sport. I don't push it on them though. If they want to do it, I will support them. If they choose something else, I will support that as well. I just want them all to grow up with respect and to be good people.
Q: What has been your experience with HMB?
MK: Small miracle! I almost stopped training and boxing a couple years ago as a result of many chronic over training issues. HMB has helped my inflamed/thickened achilis tendons and my elbow tendonitis. I have had the other positive effects of HMB as well (increased strength and endurance and faster recovery).
I am excited to be a part of Team HMB!
Q: What are your ultimate goals for the future and how do you think HMB will help you achieve those goals?
MK: A long term goal of mine would be to have my own boxing/training facility and to train fighters. I would also enjoy helping people with their diet and exercise in general.
I plan on fighting as a pro as long as my physical abilities allow me to.
My coaches and managers are good honest people and they will let me know when it is time to stop. I would like to fight for some type of championship as a pro. Right now I am taking it a fight at a time and loving every minute of it (training and fighting).
HMB is a large part of my recovery and performance. It is helping me compete at a level many dream about. Believe me, I am living my dream!
Thanks for your time today Mike, and we are happy to have you be a part of our team.