The sport of taekwondo is something Jason Lewis cannot get enough of. Since he was 5 years old, Lewis has been training in this form of martial arts, dedicating significant time to the sport.
Lewis, a Marlboro resident who will turn 19 in September, has seen his hard work and dedication translate into earning a fourth degree black belt and becoming a two-time individual American Taekwondo Association (ATA) world champion.
Lewis, who graduated from Marlboro High School in 2020, won his first world championship when he was 11. He won his second individual world championship on July 30 when he competed at the 2020-21 ATA Martial Arts World Championships in Phoenix, Ariz.
Lewis won a gold medal in the sparring competition with a thunderous punch in overtime in the championship match to win 3-2.
“It feels great,” he said about winning a second world championship. “I have worked so hard for this. I won it first when I was 11. It has been a long journey to win it again.”
Lewis won his second world title in comeback fashion. In the championship match, Lewis took an early lead by scoring with a big kick. His opponent fought back to take a 2-1 lead. With :06 left in regulation, Lewis scored with a kick to tie the score and force overtime.
The stage was set for the first competitor to score a point in overtime to win the title. All of the emotions and excitement that surrounded the moment did not phase Lewis, who said he maintained the same mentality he had shown in his previous three matches at the tournament.
Lewis said he remained calm and kept reminding himself to focus on executing what had been working for him.
That mindset and drive to win helped Lewis prevail in overtime as he landed a punch to score the winning point and culminate an eight-year journey to become a two-time world champion.
“It’s really amazing,” he said. “Hard work really pays off.”
Lewis is an eight-time qualifier for the world championships. Despite having success right away and winning a title when he was 11, Lewis did not earn a medal in his next six appearances in the tournament.
Those results fueled Lewis to keep working hard in pursuit of a second world championship. The coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the tournament in 2020 and caused all of the competitors to wait another year to follow their dreams.
Lewis kept training in his basement as he prepared himself for another opportunity to compete at the ATA World Championships. In the end, all of the work paid dividends for Lewis, who is preparing to enter his sophomore year at Rutgers University.
He is planning to join the Rutgers Taekwondo Club and hopes to compete in the collegiate national tournament.
In addition to working to be the best competitor he can be on the mat, Lewis also strives to help other athletes improve and find purpose with taekwondo.
Lewis has been an instructor at Marlboro ATA Martial Arts since he was 14. He said he believes taekwondo is a great activity for young people; seeing firsthand how much it has helped him grow as a person inside and out over the last 13 years.
“Taekwondo is a great sport to get your child involved in. It teaches you the values of hard work, discipline and dedication. It teaches you responsibility and what you need to do to get better,” he said.