Circle of Inspiration // Bogi Atanasov
Bogi's personality is magnetic. He has an incredible ability to give you 100% of his attention during a conversation every damn time. From his home country in Bulgaria, to St. Louis, and now Los Angeles. Bogi’s passion has led him from professional soccer to headlining venues as a DJ.
You say that family is one of the biggest influences for you, how has your family played a role in your life?
They make me feel unstoppable. The belief they have in me makes me feel like I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to. My family background is a little different; being immigrants my pops decided to bring my family to the states 14 years ago for a better life. We didn’t have a car, or computer; we lived in poverty. I didn’t understand it, because I didn’t know anything else, but my parents wanted me and my sister to have a better life. They were like " you know what, we are willing to take this risk to give an opportunity to our children for a better life." My dad had $20 dollars in his pocket - and we're here now. Going through that at a young age made me realize that anything is possible. I was like, how can this man (who doesn’t speak a word of English) buy a house, get a job and buy a car, and then my mom started a business! I don’t ever wanna go back to that lifestyle, of course, so that’s such a fire lit inside of me. You take things for granted when you don’t experience how bad it could be.
How did playing professional soccer shape your work ethic and self-confidence to this point in your life?
Growing up in Bulgaria we played soccer in the streets every day. That’s where I fell in love with it. It used to drive me crazy when another player was better than me - it fueled me. It wasn’t until I was 15 that I was like "I want to do this. I want to play soccer professionally". I was so passionate about it. I was ready to do whatever it took. I didn’t care who or what got in my way. How realistic was that? I don’t know, but I knew it was possible if I gave it my all. In my sophomore and junior years in high-school I was playing good club level soccer. I made my own workout program and would watch Christiano; I wanted to be THAT good!
After that second summer, man, I just saw this growth in me. I sent a highlight tape of my soccer games to my uncle in Bulgaria (who just loves me so much). Well, during the soccer game of one of the biggest teams in Bulgaria first division, he jumped the fence, ran up to the coach and shoved my highlight DVD in his chest and as security was pulling him away said "This is my nephew! WATCH HIM!" If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here.
The coach ended up watching it and reaching out. He said "Hey kid, we want to give you a month trial." I said "Holy shit, I’m on my way!". Junior year of high-school I went out there and tried out; they said "We think you’re great, we want you to be with us". I talked to my parents about it. My mom was like "Look, son, we understand that this is your biggest dream in your life, but you have to finish high-school." Education is so important to my family, especially my moms side. So, I came back to the states, finished school in a year, and went back to Bulgaria. Right before I got there, they changed coaches!
The new coach said that I wasn’t good enough. I was so frustrated. I spent a week staring at the wall in Bulgaria, thinking "What the hell am I gonna do with my life. I turned down all these offers to colleges, it’s the end of July, what the hell am I gonna do". I had two buddies that went to Maryville University in St. Louis, so I reached out to them. They talked to the coach at Maryville, and he said "Of course, we’d love to have him on the team".
Two weeks before college started, I went back to St. Louis. It was terrible soccer. Not what I was used to. After a year and a half, I asked for my release and left. I told myself "I’m going pro". I enrolled in a community college and kept training. I soon saw that the same Bulgarian team that I had been following changed coaches again. I reached out, got a month trial with them, and I killed it. I signed a 3 year contract at a top European division in Europa league.
I was not the best player at all, man. I was 21 and all these guys are 26 - 27 years old, at the peak of their careers. I was a sub, so they would put me in during the last minutes of the game; but I would score almost every time! I was in the game. I had the best goal-per-min ratio... But not being the best player really drove me nuts.
So, I went back to the routine I had during my summer workouts in high-school. I was going to practice an hour early and calling the assistant coaches to train me. I practiced with the team, and would then sneak into our club gym afterward. I ended up over-training. I tore my knee up and had to get surgery during the season, which led to the team breaking my contract. At the time it felt like my world was turned upside down, but the lessons I learned from my soccer career were never forgotten. I loved what I did and was excited to work and train. It was my passion; it never felt like work to me. You gotta believe in yourself. One of the first things I bought after going home was a golden soccer ball charm to remind me of all of those experiences. I still wear it to this day.
Cut to current day: you started spinning in October 2018 and had your first headliner at RYSE night club in January, 2019. What was that moment like?
My friends and family were there and I just wanted to be accommodating and introduce everyone to each other. And at one point, my friend Hannah handed me everyone's tickets. The tickets had my name on it! It said "Ticket Master, the date, the time, the venue... I took a step back and took a moment to pat myself on the back. Looking at that ticket and knowing that people paid money, planned ahead, and took their time and effort to come hear me....that’s when it hit me. I was like, "I have to put on the best show of my life!".
I saw my name in lights, my intro song came on, and as I’m walking to the stage... realized that I forgot my headphones and had to run back and get them! (laughs) The closest people in my life were there supporting me, it was great.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Making the closest people in my life proud. That’s number one for me.
My friends, family and girlfriend have sacrificed so much, and seeing them proud of me... that’s number one. Also, the realization that we only have one life! So why the hell not?!!! Why not start something that you are passionate about?!
Love the journey of following your heart and pursuing your passion. Find out more Bogi @bogi717 and don't forget to share YOUR story with #iwearmyHOMS.