Last month, a Portsmouth native earned international recognition for his martial arts skills.
Bobby Cooper, 44, now of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, earned two gold and two silver medals in the men’s black belt division at the Irish Cup in Dublin, Ireland.
The Irish Cup is an international martial arts tournament in its 19th year of existence. Each year, over 300 competitors come from across the world come to compete for a championship.
Cooper, an experienced veteran in martial arts, traveled to Dublin with the American Karate Jiu-Jitsu Union, a martial arts organization based in Chillicothe. Along with a team of fighters from across the country, he helped “Team America” win win 49 total medals and the tournament’s grand championship.
Cooper’s gold medals came in synchronized kata and black belt kata, while he earned silver medals in black belt fighting and team fighting.
“Kata” is a form of martial arts where competitors are judged based on choreographed martial arts moves.
“It’s a great feeling to get out and compete again on an international level,” Cooper said.
Growing up in Portsmouth, Cooper was drawn to fighting sports at an early age. His brother, Fred Tackett, was an avid boxer, and his cousin John Bender helped introduce the brothers to martial arts. He took to karate quickly, earning a black belt in just three years by the age of 13.
Over the next two decades, Cooper racked up a number of martial arts and boxing championships, including a 1985 USA National Karate Federation championship. But a shoulder injury about 10 years ago threatened to end Cooper’s career.
However, after an AC joint surgery and rehab, Cooper has returned to his old form, and he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.
“They say you’re usually done after you turn 35, but that’s not true,” he said. “I’m still feeling pretty good…maybe another year or two, but I’m still in pretty good shape.”
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