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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Ask Bobby #12
September 25, 2023

UMB Tae Kwon Do Champion Has Olympic Aspirations

Fredson Gomes, a 21-year-old sophomore in the UMB College of Management, wowed a large audience attending the Office of Student Trustee’s Black History Month celebration last Friday night with a jaw-dropping display of his skills in the Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do. But showmanship aside, Gomes hopes that his skills will allow him to do something nobody has ever done-bring an Olympic gold medal to his home country of Cape Verde.

Gomes, now residing in Brockton, emigrated from Cape Verde, a small archipelago off the west coast of Africa, at age six and began his Tae Kwon Do training at age 10. Since then, he has gone on to win championships in Massachusetts, the U.S. senior nationals in 2002, and last year’s Eighth Pan-African Games where he became the first Cape Verdean to win a gold metal in international competition on any level, in any sport. Since Cape Verde is not especially well represented in the Olympics, bringing back a gold medal would very likely elevate Gomes to the level of a national hero in the small country of less than half a million people.

The routine performed by Gomes at the Black History Month celebration was described by him as being, “flashy stuff… not really practical in the ring.” “What I do,” he went on, “is full-contact Tae Kwon Do. There are no hand or foot pads and no head guard. We get a chest guard that doesn’t protect anything. In the full contact sport, you’re given points based on how hard you hit-if it’s a little tap, it won’t register. Two points to the head, one point to the body, and it’s continuous for three rounds of three minutes. We have four or five fights per day, on average.”

With regard to his commitment to the sport, Gomes explains, “I was a chubby little kid and I really didn’t want to participate in martial arts-my dad had to kind of drag me in there. I wasn’t really active at the time, but since my dad put me in when I was 10, I’ve just been getting better every single day as a result of hard work and diligence. I’m really grateful for it and I’m really glad I’ve gotten to this point, but I know I can get better and I will have to get in tip-top condition for the Olympics.”