CLEVELAND — A northeast Ohio teacher who won a gold medal in Kung Fu at the Pan-American Championship in Brazil is sharing his skills with prospective young fighters.
Raymond Mallett does Kung Fu training almost every day. He’s been a fighter for more than four years.
“You get to be competitive and move your body, you get to be physical,” he said.
Mallett is already a champion in Shuai Chiao, one of the oldest forms of Chinese Kung Fu.
“I’m 40 years old. I’m honest with myself, you know, how much time do I have left to be athletic, to be moving my body the way I do?” he said.
Mallett competed in the National Great Lakes competition and in California. winning three gold medals before getting the offer to travel to Brazil for the Pan-American Games.
“I got an email from the council from Team USA offering me the opportunity to fight representing Team USA. I mean, I couldn’t pass it up,” he said.
Mallett came home a champion, but he is also still a teacher at Saint Stanislaus Middle School.
“Where I come from, no one goes to college. There is not a lot of hope. So when I got to a place where I could show children and everybody that there would be better things, I decided that’s what I wanted to do,” he said.
He’s now taking time to teach middle schoolers self-defense, and he has some help.
Debb Martin has been the principal at this school for 17 years.
“It’s a physical activity, it builds their self confidence, it’s a pretty useful skill in life,” she said.
Martin not only supports but even participates in some of the lessons.
“I would be out there. They didn’t want to swing at the principal, they just wanted to swing at Mr. Mallett and the other person we had over here helping him. By the end of that first season, they were coming at me with all of it,” she said.
For Martin, learning these skills is more than just a workout.
“Let’s face it, a lot of my babies are leaving taking an RTA bus home, and when they get off and somebody comes at them, they have to be able to protect themselves,” she said.
And for Mallett, he said it’s about setting the right example for those who may be looking up to him.
“You never know which one of these kids might wake up one day and decide I want to do something great, too. So if I can plant the seed for that, it makes me feel like I did something,” he said.