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Cayden Duncan represents USA in kick boxing competition

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 7:19 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - While most kids are locked in playing video games over the summer, Cayden Duncan is on the mats. That drive and determination is taking him overseas to Italy for a once in a lifetime experience.

The 15-year-old stands in the middle of the Forge Family Martial Arts gym. He’s suited up in protective gear, sparring with his coach. This is Cayden’s escape.

“If I was frustrated, I can come down here, work, take my mind off of things,” Cayden Duncan, local kick boxer, said. “It’s just like listening to music or playing games.”

It’s a place he’s excelled.

“At this age, going to something like that big is very mind blowing,” Duncan said. “You really can’t fathom how big it is because you’ve never been to something like that.”

Six years ago, Cayden Duncan was watching one of his favorite shows.

“I would watch this show called Texas Ranger,” Duncan said. “I always loved it and it would really inspire me. I would start reenacting some of the moves at home.”

He was hooked.

“If you’re just gonna do it halfway, it’s not gonna work,” Duncan said. “You’ve got to put all you can into it. If you really want to succeed, you can’t expect things to happen by itself. You’ve got to do it yourself.”

Duncan enrolled at a local dojo, where his natural skill was honed.

“He has natural ability, but the biggest things is that he was dedicated, he was coachable and he listened,” Chad Allen, owner of Forge Family Martial Arts, said. “And then he’ll do what you say.”

“He’s up here six, seven days a week, just about every week,” Bryant Newsome, coach at Forge Family Martial Arts, said. “So seeing him put that much time in and have this success is huge because it shows the hard work does pay off.”

This year was his best yet. Duncan won a national competition in Nashville, meaning the 15-year-old will head overseas to represent the United States against hundreds of other countries in the 2022 World Association of Kick Boxing Organizations Junior/Cadet World Championships.

“It’s a once in a lifetime experience because how much you have to put in to actually get to something that’s big. It’s unbelievable,” Duncan said. “And honestly, for my little mind to just think about it is crazy. I’m speechless about it because it’s really something big.”

The Upstate native hopes to inspire others to achieve their dreams.

“I really just want to be a well known karate fighter that can bring motivation to people and inspire.” Duncan said.

Cayden’s ultimate goal down the road is to parlay this experience into a MMA career. The competition in Italy will start September 30 and run through October 8th.