Karajala Kickboxing Club is a training facility in Karajala, a small village near Tbilisi. The club is located in the house of trainer and owner Isvahan Aliyev, a professional kickboxer. Aliyev, and all of the members but one, are ethnic Azerbaijanis born in Georgia. Saying that the facility lacks equipment would be an understatement — it has only one bench press and one punchbag — but despite this, Aliyev says that some of the children from the club are Georgian kickboxing champions.
The club started in 2015 with only 5 members, it now has around 40, from Gachiani, a nearby ethnic Azerbaijani populated village. Because of the facility’s small size, children are divided into three groups that come at different times three times per week. The club takes a monthly participation fee of ₾20 ($8), but if a member cannot afford this, participation becomes free.
Aliyev opened the club to fight what he saw as an increasing drug problem in Gachiani. He says that by practising sports, young people in the village will stay away from such vices.
Aliyev is a successful kickboxer, who has won tournaments Georgia, Azerbaijan and this year he came second in an international tournament in Istanbul.
Avtandil Mehdiyev is a member of Karajala Kickboxing Club. He is 11 years old and aspires to represent Georgia and win international tournaments. He wants to dedicate his first international victory to his trainer, Isvahan, in order to thank him for the time and effort he invests in him.
‘Kharajala sport club is one of the strongest clubs in Georgia despite not having enough equipment. We have Georgian champions from the club and we win tournaments’, Avtandil says.
Avtandil, along with Goga Jalagonia, the only ethnic Georgian member of the club, have been invited to participate in an international junior championship in Antalya, Turkey. The tournament will be held at the end June and his parents have to cover travel costs, since the government does not provide sponsorship.
Isvahan has requested assistance from the government to purchase a proper facility and equipment for the club. Due to the success of Karajala he was promised that all he needs will be delivered in two or three months.