After a successful career at the highest level for 12 years, Stanislav Horuna of Ukraine has become one of the most admired karatekas in the world. Respected by rivals and revered by fans, Horuna is very probably the most-followed competitor in the world by younger generations of fans; the sight of the Ukrainian athlete surrounded by hundreds of enthusiasts has turned out to be a classic feature at major events. His friendly personality, his unique hairdo and his spectacular style of fighting are among the reasons for his widespread fan base.
He received over 92,000 votes in The World Games Athlete of the Year race and ended as first runner-up. On Instagram and Facebook, his fans continue to ‘like’ his campaign video even though the race is already over. They also showed their support strongly during the race.
“This number of voices was a surprise for me. I didn't expect such support from the people! Of course, I was trying hard to spread the info about the voting everywhere. I'm thankful for the huge support from the World Karate Federation! So, the secret to such a result lies in the common united efforts,” Stanislav Horuna says. “In addition to the Karate community I also asked my friends from other sports to involve their audiences. That's how I got support from stars and world champions such as (Football) Zinchenko Oleksandr, (Judo) Daria Bilodid, (Boxing) Taras Shelestyuk, (Wrestling) Zhan Beleniuk, (Acrobatic Gymnastics) Oleg Verniaiev and many others, including bloggers and influencers from several different spheres.”
The four-time European Championships medallist claimed his biggest accomplishment at The World Games in 2017, when he won the gold medal in spectacular fashion. The Ukrainian hero defeated Iran’s Aliasghar Asiabari 4-2 in one of the highlights of the tournament. This year he won the gold medal at one of Karate’s biggest events, the 2019 European Games.
“Winning at The World Games 2017 was an interesting experience for me. That probably helped me win the European Games 2019, as it was the same format in both events. And, I hope that having had such an experience, it will be easier to compete at the Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo.”
Antonio Espinós, President of the World Karate Federation, praises Horuna: “Stanislav Horuna is not only one of the best athletes in the world. He represents - like many other karatekas do - the outstanding values of our sport. Honour, hard work, respect, kindness… all these principles that make Karate so unique are symbolised in Horuna’s career and in his performances. It is an honour for Karate that he is the runner-up of The World Games Athlete of the Year 2019. I would like to sincerely congratulate him for this fantastic success. Also, many thanks to the thousands of sports fans who voted for him. As he said it himself, this is not just Horuna’s success; this is a big success for the whole of our sport”.
In addition to his success on the tatami, Horuna works as an attorney in his home town of Lviv. A Master of Law from the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Horuna has Snowboarding, Skydiving and Football as major hobbies. “My work is very different from Karate. Sometimes it is very boring but it helps me to switch my mind. During the day I work at the office and in the evenings I go to the gym and train,” said Horuna.
He concludes by thanking all who voted for him: “I'm really thankful for the constant support during the whole period of voting! If we ever have another chance to be nominated for the title of the athlete of The World Games - I'm sure we will win!!”
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee. The 11th edition of The World Games will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 15-25 July 2021. 3,600 athletes from over 30 sports and 100 countries will take part in the Games.