A very warm welcome to the newest member of The Caledonia: Resident Manager, NYC Native, and Muay Thai champion, Simon Camaj. Simon took some time from his day to share with us for the Caledonia Team feature on my website.
Lance: Please tell us about your background. Where were you born and raised?
Simon: I was born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Lance: In what ways have you seen the Upper West Side change – for better or worse – since growing up there?
Simon: It’s a great area. I can’t say anything negative about the Upper West Side. In terms of changing for the better, I feel like it’s the same. Obviously there’s a lot of real estate going up now and prices have skyrocketed; my dad says that around the time he came to New York City, homes in our building were selling for $11,000 for a three or four bed. Now they’re $3M and above.
Lance: What are some of your hobbies and passions?
Simon: My passions include cigars and kickboxing. In my spare time, I also enjoy going to the movies, especially to watch horror films.
Lance: How did you get into kickboxing?
Simon: I was a heavyset kid just trying to lose weight. I wanted to find something that I would actually like to do. I was sort of intrigued by UFC and kickboxing and boxing. I figured I would give it a chance. I had just started being a doorman when I was 16 years old. When I got my very first paycheck, I went to Church Street Boxing Gym and signed up. My parents were totally against it because they thought I was going to get hurt. With that first paycheck and class, I went and fell in love.
Lance: What are you really good at?
Simon: I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty good at sports, particularly kickboxing, but not limited to basketball and other competitive games.
Lance: What are some of your favorite places to go/things to do in NYC?
Simon: My wife and I are big foodies. We love to try new things, experience different ethnic or unusual foods, and check out trendy spots. We recently tried Stuffed Ice Cream on the east side. Very good spot. For a romantic dinner we like Daniel and One if by Land, Two if by Sea.
Lance: What do you like most about being part of The Caledonia team and what is the most challenging part?
Simon: When first coming to the Caledonia, everyone welcomed me with open arms. I also noticed quickly that the team has a great work ethic, which I appreciate. I would say the most challenging part was learning the layout of the property when I first started.
Lance: What are three things that residents of The Caledonia would be surprised to learn about you?
- I’m one of seven children in my family.
- I come from an Albanian background.
- I am a six time Muay Thai champion, a one time MMA champion, and a bronze world medalist.
Lance: Thank you so much for taking time from your busy day for this interview, and welcome to The Caledonia. We are very happy to have you.
Simon: Thank you and my pleasure. I am happy to be here.