Kings Combat Fitness gym in Rego Park, Queens, is branched into two separate but equal rooms. To the right is the Strongman space, where athletes lift weights and participate in other activities to build their strength. On the left is the mats, where Muay Thai and JiuJitsu training takes place for both children and adults. Pawel Zawistowski, an NYC pro Muay Thai fighter and long-time athlete of Kings Combat Fitness, utilizes both facilities as he prepares for his final fight of the year on Friday Night Fights.
Zawistowski works with the variety of coaches that Kings Combat has to offer, including head coaches Dave Moy and Andrew Rivera, as well as assistant coach Luciano Olmedo.
“It was at NYJJ in SoHo where I met Dave Moy for the first time,” Zawistowski says. “I was 22 years old, when he first kicked my ass badly. He dropped me with a left kick and taught me a lesson. Eventually I followed him when he opened his own gym. Kings Combat is my second home. I’ve been there since they first opened their doors and everyone is my friend, even Dave... And what makes him different than other coaches is that we are friends, but when it’s time to fight, it’s time to fight. Also, his training regimen is very different. He will say, "Today is an easy day,” but as always, it turns out to be hard as fuck! Whoever comes and is in camp, knows him for that!”
Zawistowski has been fighting for the last several years and has been a regular competitor for the longest running Muay Thai show in America, Friday Night Fights. With a combined amateur and pro record of nearly 40 fights, he also maintains a full-time day job in construction. He manages his training schedule around his job, as well as being a family man to his wife and son.
“I love competition sports and fighting. I think fighting is the most competitive sport of all,” he says. “I know lots of it is team work, but when it comes down to the actual fight, you are on your own. Adrenaline, winning, and the urge to be the best is what makes us, the fighters, do it.”
His coaches are tough on him, but the atmosphere at Kings Combat is both playful and disciplined. Coaches Moy and Rivera push their athletes beyond what the fighters thought was possible. In breaking them down, they teach their students how to build themselves back up and become stronger than before. They pull the best from their athletes due to their ability to motivate them to leave everything on the mats.
Zawistowski wants to illustrate what he has gained from martial arts for his young son, who often comes with him to training.
He says, “Every father is a role model for their children. Kids mimic us in every step of the way. My thing is that I won’t force Muay Thai onto my son, I will let him choose when he gets older. He sees what his dad loves and maybe one day he will continue the legacy.”
Zawistowski fights this Friday at the Broad Street Ballroom, his fight will be streaming live here.