By Tierra Harris // Reporter
Men and women clad in foreign robes, engaging in what looked like wild dancing lit freshman Marcus Mizelle’s eyes up when he first stepped foot into a karate competition.
The mats that lay on the ground were surrounded by referees and fighters that looked nothing like the ones he had seen in movies. At just four years old, Mizelle had no idea how much karate would change him.
“My parents signed me up and I didn’t want to do it,” Mizelle said. “After a year, I really got into it.”
Mizelle said that his first karate instructor, Alison Adamson, inspired him to keep pushing and compete at a young age. By the age of nine, Mizelle had earned his first black belt.
“At the end of all my training I had to pass a test,” Mizelle said. “There was a section for physical, history, form and self-defense.”
Mizelle’s transition from first to third degree black belt took about five years. Over that course of time, he had competed in multiple state and national competitions.
“I’ve been to almost all 50 states, I went to Poland two years ago and earlier this year I went to Romania,” Mizelle said.
Once Mizelle was granted the opportunity to travel across the world, he trained intensely. A role model of his, Marion student Luke Sartino, trained with Mizelle and helped him prepare for the competition.
“In Romania, it was kind of tough because I was the only person from North America,”Mizelle said. “I was the only one that spoke English and there were about forty people in my group.”
Mizelle’s experience in Romania has led him to making it a goal to compete in more international competitions, in hopes of medaling there. Paying for trips is the only obstacle that Mizelle faces.
“Those trips can get really expensive,” Mizelle said. “Especially if you want to bring family along.”
Mizelle and his teammates typically try to create foundations to raise money for their competitions. To save money, Mizelle only brought his mother along for the trip to Romania; on average, some trips are usually about $6000 per person.
“I try and do a GoFundMe account every time I have a trip,” Mizelle said. “We’re also always trying to find local sponsors.”
Regardless, Mizelle is grateful for karate and how the experiences have shaped his personality. Without it, Mizelle feels that “he would be a lot more into” the symphony here at school if his parents had never enrolled him in his first class.
Mizelle had also played baseball for some time, but nothing overshadowed his love for karate. Even today, he said that each competition feels like his first.
“My next big competition is the regional tournament in Chicago at the end of April,” Mizelle said.
After receiving his second black belt, Mizelle began teaching at Adamson’s Karate Studio. With the help of his friends and family, Mizelle plans to attend many other world competitions. He said that he will continue to teach, in hopes of embedding a similar love for karate into children who were just like him at one point.
“It doesn’t matter what you do, just put your heart into it,” Mizelle said.