Elvir Muriqi is a modern day boxing legend, known as the “Kosova Kid” in the ring. He became the first Albanian athlete to hold multiple titles, including Golden Gloves 1998 win, two championships, amateur kickboxing East Coast champion and Tri-state champion. His triumph came with the win of the New York Golden Gloves in Madison Square Garden at only 18 years old.
After stepping out of the ring, Muriqi pursued entrepreneurship launching successful businesses. Most recently, he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement in Sports trophy at Capitale NYC.
NY Elite Exclusive Interview with the renowned athlete and entrepreneur Elvir Muriqi
Congratulations on winning the Lifetime Achievement in Sports trophy in New York at Nëntori Shqiptar event held at Capitale NYC in November 2021. Your accomplishments in sports have paved the way for young athletes today. What are you thankful for in your life and career?
Elvir Muriqi: Thank you so much and I would like to thank Eduart Deda and Nëntori Shqiptar Organization for the great honor.
First of all, I am thankful in life for having a great family, who is always behind me and has supported me throughout my career. I am thankful for being in a position that I have been in my life, my young career in my homeland Kosova and then coming to America in 1996 pursuing my career here as a Kickboxer and Boxer. Just being able to show the world even though we are a small country that we can do special things and compete at the highest level at the highest platforms such as Showtime championship boxing, HBO, ESPN, MSG, Fox sports, and a lot more.
You grew up in Kosova. Tell us a little bit about your childhood, and your interest in the sport of boxing during your youth?
Elvir Muriqi: I can fairly say I probably had the best childhood ever from having a popular dad, from being the best in anything we did as kids from any game that we played, from any sport that we competed, from motorcycles, anything really.
When I was six years old, I started training karate. I did that for three years. When I was nine years old, I started boxing. I did it for a year and a half then after that I started kickboxing. Meantime I did other sports as well such as soccer, gymnastics, tennis. Being a popular kid in my city, it got me involved in many sports and staying active. I just had a great childhood.
When I was young, I had interest in all the sports, kickboxing, soccer, not just in boxing. I always knew that I would one day do something very big in life.
Since coming to America, from the start, you left your mark professionally, by winning the Golden Gloves in 1998. Being the first Albanian boxer to get into the boxing scene in United States at the highest level so quickly, what does that mean for you, your identity and what you represent?
Elvir Muriqi: When I came to America after two months I started competing in kickboxing. I won 2 championships, an amateur kickboxing East Coast champion and Tri-state champion. At the same time, I started competing in amateur boxing.
When the New York Golden Gloves 1998 win came, I was 18 years old. I was able to be the first Albanian athlete to win the New York Golden Gloves in Madison Square Garden, to raise the Albanian flag for the first time ever in Madison Square Garden. The great Gil Clancy said the star is born. I had so many offers from everybody, even Magic Johnson offered me a contract at the time. I decided to sign with Joe Locosio and Frank Locasio.
Very shortly after you fought on TV. What was that experience like?
Elvir Muriqi: I fought on TV winning the Golden Gloves in Madison Square Garden on Fox Sports. A decisive moment on July 23, 2002, Sammy Ahmad, the time had come to see who would be in the top 10 in light heavyweight division. It was one of the best fights of the year for 2002. This fight showed the world what kind a heart and character I have.
Can you tell us who you trained with and what lessons did you learn?
Elvir Muriqi: When I turned pro, I started training with Mike Tyson’s old trainer, the great Teddy Atlas. I learned so many lessons from the man, not just about Boxing but about life as well. I am grateful for having worked with great trainers such as Luis Ruiz, Crazy Ray, Teddy Atlas, Harold “Shadow” Knight, Ralph the Preacher, Colen Morgen, Buddy Mcgirt. They have been a blessing in my sports career and great mentors.
What has been your key to your success in your boxing career?
Elvir Muriqi: The key to my success is hard work, dedication, discipline, talent and making the right decisions.
You have competed at the highest level. Can you share with us your accomplishments and proud moments?
Elvir Muriqi: There are so many proud moments in my career, but I would like to mention winning the Golden gloves fight in Same Ahmad to a fight of the year 2002 and fighting Antonio Tarver June 9, 2007.
What have been your favorite moments and why? Any particular fights that stood out to you?
Elvir Muriqi: The fight the stands out to everybody and my fans’ favorite fight it is the Sam Ahmad fight.
Did you have a nickname in the ring?
Elvir Muriqi: When I won the Golden Gloves and I decided to sign with my managers they came up with my nickname because during that time it was war in my country Kosova. So that got my nickname the “Kosova Kid”. Through my whole career I was proud of my nickname and proud where I came from.
Being a recognized boxer in US, as a talented Albanian boxer who caught the attention of the world of TV and sports, how do you view your journey to stardom?
Elvir Muriqi: During my career I was the only athlete popular from my country in America. I received a lot of respect and love through my whole career in New York. I have had a great time, so many great moments and there are so many great people that I met, just great memories all around.
After your successful boxing career, you ventured off to the business world. What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
Elvir Muriqi: After my last fight I saw that I am not putting a hundred percent into my boxing career, so I decided to retire. I opened up a successful business restaurant lounge in Astoria New York called “M.I.A Lounge”. I think it’s important to enjoy what you do, to have fun, to be surrounded by great people. I love people and whatever I put my mind into it I will be good.
What projects/causes have you been involved in? What has been the most rewarding part of having your own business?
Elvir Muriqi: I just love seeing people having a great time and being one of the main reasons to show people a good time and the hospitality that I show.
As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?
Elvir Muriqi: What drives me, my son Kaon is the biggest drive that I have. To try to be the best in anything that I do, as a son, father, friend, husband, brother. Anything I do I like to be the best at it – that’s what drives me in life.
What are you currently working on and what are your future plans?
Elvir Muriqi: I am involved in building houses and in other businesses as well. I am currently working on a couple of new projects that I will reveal soon.
We wish you best of luck in your future and your new ventures. What advise do you have to young aspiring boxers/athletes?
Elvir Muriqi: I appreciate you guys taking your time and doing this interview. Thank you. And for the young kids out there, my advice is, anything you would like to do in life, and that you love doing, just believe in yourself. Go get it! You can do it. Just believe it in yourself!