COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Backed by community support, this local athlete traveled to England and returned a champion. On Sept. 24, Ethic Dejaun won the World Kickboxing Organization (WKO) British Open Championship, making him the first American to do so. Next month, he returns to fight in more divisions at the WKO British Championship on Nov. 19.

According to Dejaun, the goal is to bring a team of young Columbus athletes to compete alongside him next year. He hopes competing in England will ignite passion for the sport with local youth and “start a whole movement,” reducing youth violence.

“I think that’ll be a beautiful thing,” said Dejaun, who began kickboxing this year after earning six world champion titles in karate. Dejaun added one of his biggest motivations is becoming a role model for the community.  

According to Dewayne Webb, founder of All About Fitness Family LLC, the masquerade ball fundraiser coordinated alongside Dejaun’s Columbus Karate Academy International coach Tyrone Muhammad was successful. The goal was to raise about $2,000 for Dejaun’s travel expenses.

Webb said, “I was really happy that the community came out and supported, especially at the last minute … because they believe in his story, believe he can go and he can win. And he won.”

Dejaun was pleased with his performance at the competition. Despite the personal victory, he seemed almost more enthusiastic to bring his wins back to Columbus.

“It was great, man. It feels good,” said Dejaun. He continued, “It’s a little bit of pressure … it’s a great feeling to come back with the belts as a champion, there’s nothing like it.”

The athlete secured two belts at his last competition and plans to win more in November. He explained there are a few opponents he’d like to rematch but expects the competition to be relatively similar.

“[I’m gonna] get more belts and we’re gonna do it again,” said Dejaun, confident in the 10 hours of weekly training he regularly logs.

He hopes to use his platform as an elite athlete to show community members that fighting as a sport can be beneficial for folks of all ages.

Although Dejaun is just getting started with earning kickboxing titles, he already has plans to make the sport more accessible to locals. Within the month, he intends to launch a new kickboxing program at Columbus Karate Academy International on Monday and Tuesday nights.

“We’ll start doing trials and everything,” said Dejaun. Those interested will be able to take their first kickboxing class for free, according to the athlete, who added the program will be open to men and women of all ages.

More information about Dejaun’s kickboxing program is set to be released in the coming weeks.

A reflection of both his athletic goals and desire to help the community, Dejaun said, “There’s so much I want to do. … I just saw the community needed something.”