Stanislav Nedkov is still a relative unknown to UFC fans, having had just one fight for the UFC since signing a deal with the organisation two years ago. His debut against Luiz Cane at UFC 134 was a first-round TKO win but then visa problems prevented his appearing on the UFC 142 card as planned.
Back in his native Bulgaria, Nedkov is a fairly well-known figure thanks in no small part to his marriage to the television presenter and ex-politician Yuliana Doncheva. And politics is of considerable interest to Nedkov, who is lending his support to the controversial politician Slavcho Binev.
Nedkov is unhappy with the poverty he sees around him in Bulgaria and the country’s pariah status in Europe thanks to its reputation for producing a seemingly endless conveyor belt of criminals and gangsters.
“I want young people to become politically active. 30 per cent of them either emigrated or could not find a job after university. We should be more active in solving problems, not running from them. I was born here and I want my children to live here. It will take a strong political front to save the country,” he said in a recent talk with media in Bulgaria.
“We need specialists in power, not people picked up at crossroads. 99 per cent of ministers today are not known to the public. They have no biography behind them. And they become ministers because they are docile and not in control [We want] politics experts entering political life, proven also in their personal life. It is unacceptable to go from being a firefighter or PE teacher to Interior Minister.”
However, the person Nedkov is giving his support to is one that may best be described as a ‘controversial’ figure. Binev owns numerous nightclubs and entertainment establishments in Bulgaria and recently appeared in the Wikileaks US Embassy cables by name - he was alleged to be a senior organised crime figure, something he vehemently denies.
Binev does have an extremely colourful past. As a young man he was the founder of a ‘martial arts club’ which was shut down by the government after just six months.That seems innocuous until one considers that Bulgarian organised crime is staffed almost entirely by ‘sportsmen’ - former wrestlers and boxers who were sponsored by the state under the Soviet system but were left high and dry when Communism, prompting a move into full-contact capitalism.
In the early 1990’s, his ‘sports complex’ was raided by a Bulgarian gangster who had sixty armed men with him. Just under $200,000 was stolen, in cash. Binev managed to get the gangster convicted for armed robbery, though the sentence imposed was token. Over subsequent years Binev’s story vacillates between him being attacked and kidnapped and him then being accused of restaurant and car bombings as supposed retaliation, which he denies.
Binev’s public position over the years has been persistent and vocal opposition to organised crime and mafia activity in Bulgaria. His karate club was explained as an attempt to “stop gangsters recruiting sports people” and he has long accused senior police and government officials of being in league with the top criminals.
His detractors say he is merely throwing up smokescreens and cleverly distancing himself from Bulgaria’s mob scene. His supporters say he is not a mobster in any way and that he is being purposefully defamed by his opponents. Regardless, he represents his country in the European Parliament and Nedkov at least seems to believe in his professed crusade against racketeers.
While speaking the media, Nedkov also revealed an extraordinary talent. He was asked by one reporter about his ‘hidden talent for healing’ and he confirmed that he does profess to have the ability, which he describes as ‘non-traditional’ and which by description sounds something like reflexology
“My grandfather Mityo Vapev is the only expert [in Bulgaria] who practiced non-traditional Tibetan medicine. He treated things via the nerve system so, for example, if you hurt your hip he would do something with your foot to handle the pain,” he says.
“I've seen hundreds of cases, including myself, people crippled, on crutches, be literally lifted up two hours later after being treated by my grandfather. These are not paranormal activities. From him I gained some training although I am not a specialist like him, he has been doing this for 50 years.
I've had cases where I had agreed for a fight, but I was injured. My grandfather has always had me fixed in just a few hours - something that normal medicine could not heal for months.
“I want to thank him a lot, he played a big role in my life. He studied medicine in Italy then spent twenty years living and treating in Sicily. He was team doctor of HBS, of New York Giuliani. This medicine is taught in universities in Italy but because it is time consuming to learn it, it was removed from the standard curriculum.
“I can heal myself also when I hurt shoulder or back. Several friends have thanked me for assistance. My grandfather was fortunate that I inherited him. I want to grow, because I see how the diseases go without medication.”
Nedkov’s final comment came when he was asked about his religion, as it was noted that he frequently says “thanks to God” when talking about good luck he has experienced and fights he has won. “I believe in God. I pray every morning and night, saying prayers for the good of the family and the Bulgarians,” he affirmed.
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