Stan “The Man” Longinidis is an 8 time world heavyweight kickboxing champion. He is also perhaps the last person you might expect to have a deep faith in Jesus.
I remember as a child sitting down and watching Stan fight for world titles, with a ferocity that made him a terrifying opponent. It’s hard to imagine that just before those fights he would be asking God to protect him and his opponent.
“I’d get on my knees and pray to the Lord and ask Him to protect not only myself, but my opponent and all the boys fighting on that night. I’d say ‘Lord, I train hard for this, but I surrender to your will whatever the outcome may be,” he said.
He needed to be mentally, physically and spiritually prepared, and knew that his faith was essential to help overcome any nervousness and anxiety before a fight.
“For 20 years I prepared my mind for battle, and there is nothing more liberating than getting into a ring to face your fears.”
The Fiercest Opponent
Stan never feared an opponent, but in 2015 was struck down with bowel cancer. It almost took his life. He was able to navigate that challenging time, by drawing on his fight training. He found peace and hope in God’s will, and the physical and mental strength to fight the illness.
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“I had no other choice,” he said. “When I walked into the hospital I surrendered my will and everything to God. Just like I would in a fight.”
As it turned out, it was a train wreck of a year. While Stan was fighting bowel cancer, his Mum was also fighting breast cancer. Sadly she passed away.
Since retiring Stan has gone onto a successful career in motivational speaking, encouraging people push into all that God has created them to be. It wasn’t just about the victories for Stan. Even in defeat, there was opportunity to learn and grow.
“I could discern in my heart and spirit what God wanted to teach me – He said ‘I’ve given you so many great victories, but to be the champion I need you to be, I need to see how you handle loss.’”
Stan will be speaking at Men & Machines on October 14 at Macarthur Anglican School, Cobbitty. For details head to www.menandmachines.org