22 May 2015, 13:33
7045 |

Kazar Hakobyan: a Story of Repatriation

“I like seeing Yerevan streets crowded with people, I like seeing people taking strolls with their families. The nature is fascinating; I miss the Highlands and I cannot enjoy this beauty enough. Well, and, of course, the food, which takes me back to my childhood. Living and working in Armenia is my pleasure; I'm happy here.”

azar Hakobyan repatriated in April 2014. He understands that his 20 years spent in Moscow cannot be forgotten, but he wants to see his future life connected to Armenia. Confident that all the problems he faced here exist in other countries as well, he has a great desire and aspirations that can overcome those problems and allow him to enjoy life in Armenia.

“I was born in Yerevan. In 1994, my parents left the country – first, for several years we lived in Ukraine, in the city of Dobropole, but afterwards we moved to Moscow, where we settled down. There, I continued my studies at school, went to college MATI-RSTU after Tsiolkovsky and received a master’s degree diploma in Economics and Management.”

He was involved in sports and dancing since childhood. In Ukraine, Kazar took boxing classes, then became a national champion among juniors and simultaneously took Latin American dance classes. “I continued my trainings in Moscow. Once attended a conference after I graduated from college. My love for sports and dancing eventually brought me into fitness industry. I liked this path a lot, and I understood that I could realize my potential in this area. After a while I was recruited to work to ‘Fitness Planet’ where I started working as a coach/instructor for group programs (boxing, dancing).” After that, he says he worked as a Russian and international conventions presenter for “Fitness Academy”, was appointed as a manager of a dance studio a year and a half later, and the manager of an elite fitness club “Golden Keys” within the next year.

“In 2011, I completed my work in the company and decided to do my own projects. At first I was drawn to producing, after some time I started working at a construction company simultaneously organizing events for my friends and founded the project ‘Friends Place Community’ – a platform for bringing people together who seek professional, cultural and spiritual development. Meanwhile I developed interest in the history of Armenia, the history of our family and the Armenian diaspora.” Following the activities of Armenian organizations such as SAR SIVAM, AAMM, Kazar realized the importance of their work, but believed that many things can be done differently; the desire to make his own contribution was born. “At first I came up with idea to create a project called «Armenian People» for uniting people from all over the Armenian diaspora around the world. As part of the project I organized the first «Reincarnation» concert in Moscow. The songs of this group inspired and excited me. Then I was more and more anxious to create something useful for my Motherland.”

Mixed Buttle Fest Yerevan 2014
Mixed Battle Fest Yerevan 2014

It was during one of his many events that Kazar met the co-founder of an international organization called “WellForm”, which dealt with innovation in the field of sports, fitness, wellness and spa. “I got an offer to lead the Development Department and accepted the position. After working for the company for a while, I arranged a visit to Armenia in 2013 for both personal and business reasons. During a business meeting with Armine Abrahamyan, who was responsible for the development of the Gyumri Sports City project, I was pleasantly surprised by her dedication and work attitude.”

Meeting with Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan
Meeting with Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan

At that time Kazar was already familiar with the youth movement called «Street Workout» and met the movement’s leader, Artur Harutyunyan, in Yerevan. This meeting served as an impetus to the creation of a public organization called Street Workout Armenia. “I suggested Arthur and Armine develop the community as a social organization and so we started working together.” While they had initially begun working remotely, preparations for the «Mix Battle Fest» festival brought to light quite a range of organizational issues that forced Kazar to fly to Armenia. “After visiting Repat Armenia Foundation’s ‘Imagine Armenia’ forum in Moscow, my conception about modern Armenia was changed in certain ways. I very much liked their attitude towards the Motherland and their future vision of Armenia. I realized I could be helpful, especially in the circle of like-minded people like Vardan Marashlyan, Avetik Chalabyan, Artashes Shirikyan, Igor Zargaryan and Ashot Tumasyan.”

Naturally, he had some doubts and anxiety about repatriation back to Armenia. “I went through a lot of thought process whether moving was the right decision to make, I was aware there would be many problems to overcome. The thought about returning matured not only in my mind but also in my mother’s and sister’s minds. I must say that thanks to my mother, I have changed my views and attitude towards the issue of repatriation.”

In promoting the idea of organizing Street Workout Armenia, the group has been supported by Gore Nakhapetyan and accepted into the “Yerevan 2.0” incubation project, acting on the basis of Yerevan Productions, which aims to support projects that can change the Armenian society for better, something he is thankful for. “I am proud that our nation has such leaders as Gore Nakhapetyan.”

Plunged into the working atmosphere, the spirit of the youth solidified his decision. “My desire to stay is even bigger now. Over time, I identified my priorities for myself and realized that in Armenia, as anywhere else, there are some difficulties.  Figuring out everything and realizing what I can do for the development of the workout movement for guys who love doing it, I saw that pros overweighing the cons. The solution came to me by itself.”

Kazar permanently settled in Armenia in April 2014. “To be honest, in 20 years period of living in Moscow I visited my homeland for only 3 times, and with long intervals in between. The first time I came was in 1999, the second time was in 2006, and then in 2013; I moved permanently in April 2014.”

Giving an interview on Public Television
Giving an interview on Public Television

He explains how he was not familiar with Armenia and only had some vague childhood impressions and memories. Now in addition to the development of our organization, he has set forward a goal – “to get to know my homeland better, because I am Armenian, I was born here, and I have something to learn.”

Many people were surprised with Kazar’s return, he says, especially relatives and friends in Moscow. They asked why he had moved. They thought he was going to give it up after a month or 2. However it has already been a year and he has no regrets about his decision whatsoever. “Of course, sometimes you face troubles, but they are everywhere. Sometimes you notice people’s negative attitude to everything that’s going on here as well as their inaction. This fact causes discouragement – a temporary one, because I do not judge. I just make conclusions for myself, understand, accept, and now I want to act. I like seeing Yerevan streets crowded with people, I like seeing people taking strolls with their families. The nature is fascinating; I miss the Highlands and I cannot enjoy this beauty enough. Well, and, of course, the food, which takes me back to my childhood. Living and working in Armenia is my pleasure; I’m happy here.”

 

 

Today, Street Workout is actively developing worldwide. Thanks to the Street Workout Armenia federation, the movement has become very popular in Armenia over the past year. Street Workout became fashionable among young people, with the number of its followers exceeding 1,000 people. “Members of the movement have shown by their own example a kind of progress that can be achieved when there is commitment, single-mindedness and a desire to be sporty. After all, to start training there is no need to buy an expensive subscription to a fitness club. Street sport is available to all – breathe fresh air, train for free, listen to your favorite music and improve your body, expand your circle of friends, temper your character, be strong and courageous, strengthen your spirit. To begin, you just need to have a desire to love and believe in what you’re doing, and act upon it!”

For Kazar, the past year has been eventful for himself as well as for the movement. With the combined efforts of the federation, the Street Workout Armenia team leaders and all the athletes have taken part in over 20 events aimed at promoting Street Workout, mass sports and promotion of healthy lifestyles throughout Armenia. Among them has been a tour to the cities of Armenia, international festivals, races, various competitions, and the Armenian championship of Street Workout, followed by the participation in World Street Workout Championship 2014, held in Astana, Kazakhstan.

The federation has plans to further spread Street Workout’s philosophy in Armenia, to significantly expand young people’s ranks that choose healthy lifestyle. Kazar himself plans to be a major player in this development in a new trend among Armenian men and women who opt to be healthier and overall more fit, training in the open environment around them.

In 2014, Street Workout Armenia federation was supported by:

  • Gabriel Ghazarian – Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs
  • Yerevan Mayor’s Office
  • Denis Minin – President of the All-Ukrainian public organization Street Workout Ukraine, head of the international organization World Street Workout
  • Arthur Abraham – a professional boxer, middleweight world champion according to IBF, second middleweight world champion according to WBO
  • Arsen Julfalakyan – Greco-Roman wrestler, winner of the 2014 world championship silver medalist and 2012 Olympic champion and bronze medalist of the European championships.

 Interviewed by Mariam Mkhitayan

Translated by Davit Kartashyan

Edited by Tamar Najarian

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