Penticton’s Dustin Little is back home after winning silver at the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) Pan-American Championships in Brazil last month.
Little has been training for 14 years but this was his second fight in kickboxing.
“Well, the fight was like the story of David versus Goliath. Because when we got out there, we thought that we were up against a fair fight. The opponent that I was fighting against in the final had 20-plus pounds on me and 34 fights,” said Little.
“It was incredibly difficult. But I weathered the storm I took all the punches, the knees, the kicks. I did the very best that I could do, and unfortunately, I lost my decision.”
However, kickboxing is more than just stepping into the ring for Little. Growing up on a reserve in Saskatchewan he faced many hardships including addiction.
At the age of 20, he found martial arts, however, drinking remained an issue until nearly two years ago.
“I fell in love with martial arts while I was still struggling with my past. So, I was still struggling with all my demons and the alcoholism and everything like that,” said Little.
“It wasn’t up until that 20 months ago, that I finally made the decision to face all the demons and to face my past and to get past all that.”
The local legend credits the sport as a huge reason for his sobriety.
“The person I was back then, and the person I am now, they don’t compare,” said Little.
“It’s a complete 180. I first have to give the praise to God, and then I also have to give it to my wife because she’s been so supportive ever since we’ve been together.”
Meanwhile, Little is currently training for the WAKO Canadian National Championship to honor Truth and Reconciliation. The competition is just three months away and will be held in Ontario.
“For the nationals, they are honoring Truth and Reconciliation and so that’s what I was raised around. My mother was in a day school, her mother was put into residential school. That’s basically why I was so broken,” said Little.
“They have had an Ojibwe artist design the title belt, so I’m going to be going there for that belt and we’ll be looking for local sponsors to be able to help me to achieve that. So that I can bring that belt back to our people and finally put that to rest.”
Aside from training, Little will continue coaching at Pacific Top Team in Penticton.
“Martial arts saved my life. So, I felt that it was a part of my duty to pass it on as well,” he said.
“Everybody has a past, everybody has a story, everybody has some sort of addiction that goes on in their life. And it’s possible to overcome, it is possible to be able to be the person that you want to be.”