Nikos Trepca has been training to get back in the cage after a four year hiatus.
“I was meant to get back into the cage this year, but with COVID everything has been put on hold, but I’m doing good,” he told Neos Kosmos.
The 25-year-old from Corinth, who moved to Australia with his mother, brother and sister almost 11 years ago has come a long way from his grappling days in Greece, but after completing his mandatory Greek military service and healing from two surgeries, he is more determined than ever to make it out on top.
Trepca’s determination and willpower to keep going can perhaps be attributed to a few very special people in his life.
“My mum is my number one. My mum raised us when we came here [Australia] with no father, she did everything on her own. And she still does everything for us. I’ve never seen any other mother who has gone to these lengths. So everything is because of my mum,” he said.
“When I started wrestling and MMA in Melbourne, the guy I’m training under, coach Amin [Yaqoobi], helped me out a lot. I have no real words, he’s done so many things for me and all of his students. He’s like a father to us, like an older brother. He’s like family…Whenever I wanted to go and train overseas he would organise funds, he’s one of those guys that doesn’t care about money, he just cares about people achieving theirs goals and helping them do that.”
Trepca also credits his relationship with his brother Artemios and sister Dafni as being part of the foundation that has gotten him to where he is today.
“When I left for Greece, my brother was 14 or 15 and he wanted to be a lot like me…He’s a wrestler with the national team, he competed in the World’s in 2019 in Bulgaria. The bond I have with my brother is like no other, I love this kid so much and my sister too,” he said.
Trepca talks finding motivation, his pre-fight ritual and climbing back up the ranks.
What drew you to MMA?
Back when I lived in Greece, my dad got me into wrestling to avoid me being rough at school, because I used to enjoy roughhousing as a kid. So instead of putting me into boxing, he put me into wrestling and then when we moved to Australia in 2011, I continued my wrestling and that’s eventually how I got into MMA.
It’s game day, what do you do to get in the zone before the match?
Usually when I’m sitting backstage I like to zone out a little bit, so I like putting my headphone on when I’m warming up. We do a minute or two of warm up and then I sit down, get dressed and keep warm, have my headphones on my ears and listen to some good music.
I like to listen to Beethoven, some of the classics, and just keep the vibes low. I don’t like to talk too much, and I keep to myself. I follow the plan and that’s it, I keep it all simple.
Top three training songs?
I like techno, I’m a techno man, I love my festivals. I’m a little strange like that and bit wild. I love my techno tunes or Tupac.
What do you find most challenging about MMA?
The most challenging thing is that it’s really a battle with myself. I never let the opponent take over, it’s all about me. The first battle is against myself when I’m in there. It’s all in your mind, because any moment you get hit hard, or you get dropped and the guy gets on top of you to finish you, it starts in that split second where you either go ‘oh I can’t do it’ and you give up, or you say ‘no!’. And then you recover, get back up and keep fighting.
What has been a highlight in your sporting career thus far?
I was given the opportunity to fight in China back in 2017 at the Australian Fighting Championship. I lost the fight because I didn’t have the best preparation, but that was my biggest chance for getting into the bigger league. After that I stopped for a while, went off to the army, I visited my father in Germany, went to Greece, came back to Australia and I’ve decided after two surgeries on my knee that I’m ready to come back.
How has MMA impacted your life?
It’s become my everyday. Your whole life forms around it; the way people see you, respect you, it’s the way you handle yourself. You can’t be an idiot or start showing off. You respect things more in life. We gain a different understanding because we work really hard. You body and mind are going through a huge amount of stress and who you are changes.
What is something you learned about yourself through competing in MMA?
When today isn’t good, tomorrow can be better. And that you’ve got to keep your head up and that there are no limits. I’ve always said ‘I can go that far’ and I’ve always gone further and further.
What do you hope to achieve in the next year?
If things get better and we can start fighting I want to have at least three to four fights by about this time next year. I want to be supported and get a bit more attention in the bigger fights. So after three or four big fights, I want to get the crowd going and get the attention so I can get a good contract and join bigger events.
What’s something someone might be surprised to learn about you?
Generally when I meet someone I’m always polite and nice and have good vibe, but I’m a bit of a closed off person. People say I have a mysterious character, that I’m hard to read. I don’t know why!
Favourite way to unwind after a match?
After a fight I’ll turn my phone off and probably end up interstate. I like to party a lot. It’s usually that or there’s been nights where it’s just been a quiet night in. It really depends, but I really like to have good fun and go out if there’s no other match coming up.
What are you most looking forward to in 2022?
I’m looking forward to seeing how far I can go. If things open up and we can have a decent cup and the shows start back up, I want to see how far I can go and push myself. I know I can go far.
What is something you want to be remembered by?
I want to be remembered as someone who followed his heart and gave it a go, all out. I want to be known for not having any regrets, because I follow my dream and try to achieve. I want to be remembered as someone who was friendly and very helpful, because I like to help others and just a nice, peaceful man.