Jake Quinton had no idea what he was getting himself into when he went to Toronto to display his kickboxing skills.
But none of that inexperience matters now that the 15-year-old Corner Brook native is a North American kickboxing champion.
“It’s like a dream,” Quinton said Monday, only hours after arriving home from Toronto. “I’ve always dreamed about having a belt,”
Quinton, under the watchful eye of coach Jeff Brake, won the intermediate (18 and under) weight class at the tournament after defeating Gregory Sutcliffe of Sudbury, Ont., at the 2014 North America World Association of Kickboxing Organizations Championships at the Toronto Metro Centre over the weekend.
Quinton received a bye into the final bout against Sutcliffe after the Corner Brook native’s second-round opponent was a no-show.
In the championship fight against the 16-year-old Sutcliffe, the bout came to a halt when Quinton landed a “flying Superman punch” just 45 seconds into the first round. It was the third stoppage of the fight, so Quinton was awarded the title on a technical knockout.
It was only his second time in a sanctioned kickboxing match, so Quinton was understandably nervous about it all with a couple hundred people taking in the action. His only other fight, held in St. John’s back in September, ended with the hometown St. John’s fighter getting the decision after three rounds.
“I never expected to be a champion,” he said. “It means a lot. I’m sort of relieved that it’s over, but I’m happy about it.”
He was no worse for wear after his short stint in the ring, so that was a bonus.
“I didn’t get hurt at all. I’m happy I didn’t get hurt because now it doesn’t mess up my training,” he said. “Usually after a fight, if you get hurt, it delays your training for a couple of weeks, but I will go right back to training (Monday night).”
He headed to the gym shortly after arriving home because he wants to see how far he can go in the sport and expects to participate in the same annual event again.
“The fight motivates me more to get ready for my next fight,” he added.
He was pleased with how his coach was able to prepare him to do battle, but more importantly he was thankful for the way Brake kept his young fighter’s nerves in check by taking him away from the shared warm-up area that all the fighters use to get ready for their bout.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him,” Quinton said of Brake.
Now he is anxious to see how his championship belt will fit.
Unfortunately, the belt for the 63.5-kilogram weight class didn’t arrive in Toronto in time to be presented to Quinton. It is expected to be shipped from New York sometime this week. He has seen a picture of it, but said it probably won’t seem real until he has it around his waist.
Championship belts at the major international kickboxing event are honoured for one year, so he plans on relishing in his accomplishment. But, he plans on putting more hard work into his sport so he can be ready for the next challenge that comes his way.
“It happens once a year. You’re a champion for a year,” he explained. “It’s not like people can challenge you to take your title.”
It’s his to enjoy and that’s what he plans on doing. But, a trip to the gym moments after arriving home to train some more could mean he’s thirsty for even bigger and better things in the future.