Bob Daigle, founder of the Cayman Karate Academy, made another comeback in competitive karate at 55 and won gold.
Daigle competed at the Kenpo Karate World Championships in Dublin, Ireland, two weeks ago.
Competitors were from many parts of the world, including Holland, Spain, England, France, Belgium, USA, Portugal, Ireland, Germany and Denmark.
This championship was first held in 1964 in Long Beach California. Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and all the day’s top fighters competed.
The tournament is now held in different countries each year. In 2013, the event was held in the U.S., in Daigle’s home city of Boston, where he won gold in a masters event.
“When I heard that this event would be held in Dublin, I decided to train hard in order to win against Europe’s best over-50 black belt fighters,” he said.
“I don’t have many years left that I can fight, and I decided to go all-out training for this event.”
Daigle started personal training with mixed martial arts coach Robert Szalk and lost 25 pounds over six weeks.
“I actually weighed the same as I did in my late 20s for this tournament and it paid off,” Daigle said. “It was exciting [to] fight fighters from Portugal, Spain and Ireland at this tournament.”
All the hard work paid off and Daigle won 5-3 against an Irish opponent in the heavyweight final to take gold.
His two goals in this event were to win his division and go as far as he could in the grand championship rounds.
There were seven gold medalists in the grand championships, all much younger than him.
Daigle beat the 33-year-old middleweight champion from Spain in the quarterfinals. Then he was matched against another fighter from Spain, the light heavyweight gold medalist in the 30-39 division.
“Unfortunately, I did not win this match,” he said. “The young fighter was a little too quick for me and he moved forward to the finals of the grand championship against the American, Anthony Cogliandro.”
Cogliandro, a four-time grand champion, won in a terrific fight.
“I left the tournament with my head held high, knowing I had just beaten a young fighter in his prime, 22 years my junior,” Daigle said.
“My goals next time [are] to win my division and make it to the finals of the grand championships.”
The next Kenpo Karate World Championships will be in Aguascalientes, Mexico, in July 2016.
“In order to make it to the finals, I will need to start competing more often,” Daigle, a former world champion, said. “I have only competed twice over the past 16 years. If I stay fit and get rid of the ring rust, anything is possible.”
His first competitive career spanned 17 years from 1981.