By Aliki Kraterou
A dedicated one armed boxer who claims to be a ‘world’s first’ has entered the ring – despite the odds stacked against him.
Vangelis ‘Cobra’ Chatzis, 31, from Athens, Greece, had his right arm amputated at three months old after being diagnosed with a form of soft tissue cancer.
But Vangelis, who was bullied at school for his amputation, has refused to allow his disability hold him back and began training to become a professional boxer over a decade ago.
Now fully qualified, Vangelis – who competes in the super welterweight division – has organised professional fights all over the world and has even won the No Limits Belt, one of the biggest boxing tournaments in Greece.
Professional boxer Vangelis, who no longer wears a prosthetic arm, said: “When I was younger I had many difficulties – I was bullied at school and I was constantly angry.
“My first prosthetic hand only had three fingers, so the other kids would call me Captain Hook.
“At those times I would fight back – you don’t have many options, so you have to earn their respect.
“It definitely bothered me growing up, especially in my teenage years, but I am used to it now.
“I am the type of person that does everything they set their mind to.”
Vangelis admitted he was a bit of a ‘bad boy’, spending his youth in nightclubs, but said starting boxing was what made him find himself.
The first time Vangelis started boxing was when he moved to Nottingham, UK, to pursue his other big love – cooking.
After being guided by his coaches, his first debut in the ring was in 2015 after he entered a local tournament.
Vangelis claims there were several obstacles in his career such as him struggling to get his professional card due to not being ‘able bodied’ but he hasn’t let anything stand in his way.
After being inactive for the past three years due to a serious injury but he made his comeback in December 2018 by defeating Serbo-Bosnian Mikro Zdrazdo in Athens.
At the moment Vangelis teaches boxing classes to children and young people at Greece’s AEK, one of the country’s most popular athletic clubs.
He is also thought to be the only person in Greece to train wheelchair athletes.
Vangelis, who also enjoys kick boxing and Muay Thai, added: “Initially I didn’t believe boxing would be something I would do professionally but when I tried it, I loved it, I became a different person.
“I was lucky, I had really good coaches that helped me improve myself.
“Boxing is a solitary sport, you need to be counting on yourself, to trust yourself- it also requires to use your mind, strategy and tactics apart from strength.
“To someone that might be in a similar situation, I would advise not to listen to anyone and do what his heart says, follow his dreams.
“We put the limits to ourselves and it’s up to us to break them.”