Aigerim Abilkadirova Demonstrates Grace and Power as Kazakhstan’s First Grappling Champion

ASTANA – Women’s judo in Kazakhstan is progressing steadily, with accomplished athletes representing the country at international competitions. The sport continues to gain popularity, and more opportunities are emerging for female athletes to showcase their skills and talents.

Aigerim Abilkadirova, the Miss Europe Continental winner in 2022. Photo credit:

A 12-time champion of Kazakhstan and an Asian champion in judo, who was also the first world champion in grappling in the country, Aigerim Abilkadirova shared her plans, her blog, and childhood dreams in an interview with Kazinform news agency.

Abilkadirova is a medalist in major international competitions, including the European Cup, and the Miss Europe Continental winner in 2022.

What is the difference between judo and grappling?

From a philosophical perspective, judo is a flexible path to victory. It’s an elegant sport involving dynamic combat with spectacular throws. In contrast, jiu-jitsu athletes quickly go to the ground, whereas in grappling, about 70% of the action occurs on the ground, with only 30% in a standing position. Judo primarily involves standing combat, with only 10-20% on the ground.

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How did you get into judo, and why did you choose combat sports?

My journey into judo began at the age of five when my father, who had a background in judo, introduced me to the sport. I faced frequent illness and bullying from other children. Judo, in a way, became a means to gain strength and self-confidence. By age eight, I was already competing and winning in tournaments. At that time, few girls were in this sport, so I often had to compete against boys. My successes motivated me to train harder and continue competing.

My dad has always been my strong supporter and has even embarked on his training with plans to compete in veteran championships.

What are your plans for judo or other sports?

I aspire to compete in the Olympic Games in judo. Qualifying for the Olympics is challenging, requiring membership in the national team and victories in major international competitions such as the Grand Prix and Grand Slam over four years. Accumulating a specific number of points adds another layer of complexity, as point values vary based on tournament and placement. 

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I also plan to enter the world of mixed martial arts (MMA) and ultimately compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). I am confident there is a good level of MMA training in Kazakhstan, but experts in this field suggest preparing in the United States.

Are you actively running a blog on social media? Is it a hobby or work for you?

I initially started my blog as a personal endeavor, with no intention of monetizing it sharing my daily routines and workouts. However, my status as a world champion helped me grow my follower base. After watching my videos, many people wrote to me that I motivated them to work out and take care of themselves. Now, blogging has become more like a work that I thoroughly enjoy.

You are also a winner of Miss Europe Continental in 2022. How did you get into the beauty contest?

In my childhood, I had two dreams: first, to become a world champion, and second, to win a beauty pageant. During the pandemic, I participated in the Miss Astana competition, where I became a winner in the Miss Sport category. However, this outcome left me unsatisfied as my achievements in sports were evident, and I aspired to compete in the realm of beauty.

Later, I was invited to participate in the Miss Europe Continental held in Italy, where I secured the top position among participants from more than 60 countries worldwide. Clinching victory brought me immense joy and fulfilled another one of my dreams.

The interview was originally published in Kazinform. 

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