In mid-May, I reached out to UFC featherweight Giga Chikadze, asking him to provide me with some updated numbers on how The Knockout Cancer Foundation was doing in 2022.
This wasn’t unusual for Chikadze and I to discuss, as I had worked with him frequently over the course of his UFC career to help get eyes on the incredible non-profit work that he and his sister Keso do in communities around the world.
This time was different, though, as I knew that Chikadze had been chosen as the 2022 recipient of the Forrest Griffin Community Award and I needed to get updated numbers to provide to the UFC’s community team.
I called him and told him, ‘You really need to get your website updated by tomorrow.’ Chikadze said he was doing his best and thought he would have it ready by May 21 – the same day that UFC was announcing that he’d won the award.
On the morning of the 21st, the same day as UFC Fight Night: Holm vs Vieira, I called Chikadze again. This time I urged him to push some buttons to get the updates published as soon as possible because UFC was going to promote Knockout Cancer during the fights. With just an hour before UFC dropped the announcement, Chikadze called me back and told me that the website, www.kocancer.charity, was a full-go.
Since I’d been working so frequently with Chikadze over the years, UFC’s community team decided to allow me the honor of calling Chikadze and breaking the news.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘Like why is this guy trying to get me to update the website so bad?’” Chikadze laughed. “And then when he called me and told me to turn on the TV to see the announcement, I was still in shock that the UFC picked me.”
Chikadze was chosen because since 2014, he’s helped over 250 people from around the world with the financial hardships that come with paying for medical expenses, specifically patients battling cancer.
Chikadze was inspired to help others by his late mother, Nino, who passed away in 2013 after losing her battle with breast cancer. During her battle, Chikadze received some financial help in his home country of Georgia, but seeing just how expensive it was to pay for bills made Chikadze realize that financially supporting a sick loved one wasn’t possible for everyone.
“Pretty much whatever we had was from family, but a lot of other people were helping us because I was a fighter,” Chikadze told UFC.com. “This made me think that if somebody didn’t have anybody, any family or any celebrity in their family or something like this, how would they collect those finances?”
Chikadze knew that by helping people he would be honoring his mother in the best way possible. And while his UFC profile has grown thanks to his winning ways inside the Octagon, he knows that she would be most proud of what he’s accomplished outside of it.
“The only thing I could do after my mom’s passing was to continue my journey the way my mom wanted,” Chikadze said. “Every time I help someone it feels like I’m giving a present in her memory and out of her love. I’m not expecting to get anything back. We are helping people who need this the most and, honestly, every single time we help someone, even if it’s small bit of help, it gives me this type of feeling that I need. It’s truly a blessing.”
Even though he never expected to get anything back, Chikadze couldn’t be more honored to be accepting the Forrest Griffin Community Award today. In addition to the award, Chikadze will receive $25,000 to assist the efforts of The Knockout Cancer Foundation.
“This was never the goal,” Chikadze said. “The award is amazing, but the goal is to help people. Every time I used to talk about it, it was hard for me because of my mom passing away. But I knew that talking about her could allow me to help people, so I pushed through that and now I’m just so honored to know I will be able to help more people.”
Those funds will go a long way in allowing Chikadze to make his biggest impact in the community to date.
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“This is such a huge honor,” Chikadze said. “I could only dream about getting something like this and I didn’t think it would happen to me, especially in just two-and-a-half years. I’m so grateful to the UFC and for my family.
“I want to be the right example of how you can use your platform to help others and be a positive influence. This award just shows that I’m on the right path to doing that.”