Guelph’s Nathan Skoufis says everything in his martial arts career has led him to this point.
He’s entering qualifications for a chance to represent Canada at the upcoming (WAKO) World Championships in Italy later this year.
Skoufis says it’s surreal to be among those selected to compete for a spot on Team Canada.
“It’s something I would have only dreamed about over 20 years ago when I started. And really, all the dedication and sacrifices I’ve made to get to this point … (it) is definitely surreal for me and my whole family,” he said.
Skoufis is a multiple world champion and has won gold medals while on Team Canada in previous competitions.
He says he doesn’t feel a whole lot of pressure.
“It’s a tournament I’ve never been to and I’m definitely excited for the opportunity to do that. I’ve fought really the best around the world,” he said.
“My mom had to drive me wherever. We had to drive all over the world to compete, to be able to train with the best people. I think sticking with it — and overcoming that I wanted to give up — I think has really sent me to this point. And I think it’s all kind of been leading to this path and trying to get to the WAKO World Championships and being the only Canadian in my division that’s representing the country.”
He won his first world title in 2007 and has captured 23 world titles in the major sanctioning bodies including the North American Sport Karate Association (NASKA) and National Blackbelt League (NBL).
Skoufis is also the owner and instructor at Guelph Family Martial Arts on Woodlawn Road where he teaches all ages. He’s also involved with charity organizations in the community and he is a motivational speaker.
He says training won’t interfere with teaching at the school.
“We’re there six days a week, we run close to 50 classes a week. I’m there teaching the majority of them, whether it’s for COVID classes on Zoom or in person, so that’s going to be the same,” he said.
Skoufis is among the athletes at the qualifiers who have been invited to go to the training camps beginning this weekend.
There will be a total of five camps leading up to the selection. Through the qualifiers and camps, only one athlete will be selected to represent Canada at the tournament.
It’s a goal he’s been working toward for more than 20 years in the sport.
He says this is the type of opportunity that shows any goal is achievable.
“Whatever your goal is, whether it’s martial arts related, if it’s not martial arts related, if you focus at it and you work as hard as you can and you focus at it, and you have fun and enjoy what you do, I think any goal is achievable,” he said.
“If you’re passionate about something, never give up. If somebody tells you you’re not able to do something or it doesn’t go that way, I had a million things like that coming up through martial arts. Never give up. Believe in yourself and you can definitely reach any goal that’s out there for you.”
The competition is this October in Venice and it’s the largest international championship for kickboxing.