UT student to compete at world kickboxing championshipsWritten by Staff Reports | | firstname.lastname@example.org
By Samantha Watson
Special to Toledo Free Press STAR
Tommy Pitzen, a student studying criminal justice at the University of Toledo, will represent the United States at the fourth annual World Kickboxing and Karate Council World Championships taking place Oct. 2-7.
The U.S. National Karate team will go head to head with approximately 30 other countries in the championships, held in Montreal.
“I’m excited to fight against people that I’ve never competed against,” Pitzen said. “I’ve been all over the country and a little into Canada, but to an extent you don’t really get that international flavor.”
Pitzen placed second at the March 10 regional qualifier in Toledo and went on to win the June 9 national qualifier in Detroit.
The top four at each regional qualifier advanced to compete at the national level, and the top four at the national qualifier made the American team.
He has been training in martial arts for 16 years and competing for 11. He has won several state and national championships, including a world title in 2002 in Panama City, Fla., in the National Blackbelt League’s Super Grands.
Pitzen had been in retirement until Richard Plowden, president of the World Kickboxing Council and coach of the American team, began putting events on Facebook and reignited his interest in competition. He began training four weeks before the regional qualifier.
“Given the fact that I wasn’t training and wasn’t in shape, I was very happy to perform as well as I did,” Pitzen said. “I was also excited to be able to compete with one of the guys who I looked up to — Jeff Gears.”
Gears, who owns Jeff Gears Mixed Martial Arts on Monroe Street in Toledo, is a big part of why Pitzen became involved with tournament competition karate in the first place. His original trainer was partners with Gears and told stories about his successes.
“It’s like getting to play golf with Tiger Woods every day or basketball with Michael Jordan,” Pitzen said.
“The first time we sparred, I was in awe that someone who is considered one of the greatest middleweight fighters was standing in front of me and willing to share his wisdom, knowledge and experience.”