Young kickboxers train for competitions

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Lucas Cadena, 11, right, practices a spinning back kick while sparring with Jonathan Roblero, 11, on Wednesday during a Muay Thai kickboxing class at Team Panther Academy.


Staff Writer

Friday, October 12, 2018

Rocky Mount is producing its next generation of fighting champions.

The Team Panther Academy on Stone Rose Drive recently sent a handful of students to the IKF Kickboxing East Coast Fall Classic in Myrtle Beach, with three of them returning as trophy winners.

Felix Cadena, father of 11-year-old champion Lucas Cadena, said kickboxing is helping to keep his son and other kids on the straight and narrow. The elder Cadena has been volunteering at the academy as a mentor.

“It gets their minds right: Stay in school, get an education and don't be running the streets,” Cadena said. “We're very proud of all of them. They're not quitters. We call them animals.”

Cadena said the academy started in February and began sending students to camps in March. Now students are participating in professional matches.

The academy is a great way for kids to learn the fundamentals of kickboxing and life, Cadena said.

He said he wants to help more kids get involved with the sport — but that costs money.

Cadena requested help from the Rocky Mount City Council earlier this week, but said sponsorship would be preferred

“The academy is barely making it,” Cadena said. “We need sponsorship so we can get better equipment for the kids.”

Kickboxing teaches children there's more to life than all the negativity they are bombarded with, Cadena said.

“Our community is full of negative, we're trying to be in the positive,” Cadena said. “Kickboxing teaches self-discipline.”

Muay Thai kickboxing teaches the use of eight limbs in competing: Fists, feet, knees and elbows.

The Panther trainer Fortune Boye has been all over the world, learning and competing.

“It was an honor for me to take these animal monsters for their first professional fight,” Boye said. “I am very proud of the big family Team Panther Academy.”