Kickboxing champion of Central Asia, Azamat Umarzoda of Tajikistan, is now one of the newest members of Utah Valley University’s student body. Umarzoda, who transferred to UVU this semester, is currently studying ESL at UVU and training in Orem for his next kickboxing competition.

Umarzoda heard about Utah and UVU from a family friend who had previously visited Utah with the delegation of Tajik Parliament members. The UVU Office of International Affairs & Diplomacy hosted the delegation as part of the Open World program.

Now in the U.S., Umarzoda is focusing on his studies while preparing for kickboxing competitions in this country. He took an impressive second place in the world competition two months ago in Tehran, Iran, and was a kickboxing champion of Central Asia in 2007.

“My favorite competition was during the championship of Asia in 2007,” Umarzoda said. “I had three fights in one day; two of the fights finished in knockouts.”

Umarzoda trains three to four hours a day to stay in shape and has five years of professional training behind him. He credits his mother for guiding him in his kickboxing career. “My mother encouraged me to participate in this sport,” Umarzoda said. “She wanted me to grow up a strong man. I appreciate my mom’s guidance a lot.”

Arriving from the mountainous country of Tajikistan to the mountainous Wasatch Front, Umarzoda said he feels at home in Utah. “I like the U.S. a lot,” Umarzoda said. “People are very friendly and willing to help.”

Umarzoda plans to finish the ESL program at UVU and then pursue a medical degree in the U.S. He likes to play chess and football and plans to return to Tajikistan after completing his studies.