By Karen Billing
Del Mar resident Joe Lewis, 51, recently won a first place title at the American Taekwondo Association’s World Championships Tournament in Little Rock, Ark. Lewis, a first degree black belt, competed against nine other finalists in the age 50-59 ring.
“It was hard,” Lewis said of the competition. “It was difficult but very rewarding.”
Lewis was one of the 5,000 competitors who traveled to Little Rock for the annual ATA World Championships, which is a week- long celebration of Taekwondo. This year’s event drew more than 20,000 martial art students, instructors and fans from nearly 20 countries for specialty training seminars, high rank belt testing and World Champion competition.
Lewis has been training in Taekwondo on and off for the last 20 years and didn’t start to get more serious about it until three years ago. He currently trains at Church’s ATA Martial Arts in San Diego.
The title was his biggest accomplishment in the sport and was made even more meaningful as he beat a man from Texas who had beat him three times before.
“He was ranked number one in the world and I was ranked second, but I was able to beat him,” Lewis said,
Lewis will now move up and compete at the second and third degree black belt level, giving him a new crop of competitors to challenge.