10-year-old from Lebanon becomes world’s youngest taekwondo 3rd dan black belt | Communal News

The test room for Lebanese home karate quickly filled up on Saturday, with eight black belt candidates warming up in an adjoining room.

Among the eight was 10-year-old Joshua Aguirre, one of the world’s youngest third-level taekwondo black belts.

“I feel very confident,” Aguirre said before the test.

The exam room was set up so that family members and supporters could sit on one side of the room, and on the other was a long table with 11 chairs for judges, magistrates and taekwondo masters.

Despite the crowd, Aguirre appeared resolute. He knew everyone was there to support him, and that gave him more confidence, he said.

The test is divided into three parts, including action, combat, and plank/cement block destruction. About an hour and a half after the test began, new belts were awarded, including Aguirre’s third-degree black belt.

According to the taekwondo masters and masters who took part in the test, Aguirre was the youngest person in the world to win the belt. However, the title requires certification from Kokugiwon, the headquarters of the World Taekwondo Federation in Seoul, South Korea.

“It feels like the biggest achievement I’ve done right now,” Aguirre said. “I’m so happy, I still can’t believe I’ve reached my third black belt. I feel like it’s a dream.”

“He had a huge passion for taekwondo,” said taekwondo master David Gladwell, one of Aguirre’s trainers. “You can see he loves what he does. He has an extraordinary talent physically and he has discipline beyond his years.”

“He’s very mature and has a great personality for his age,” said Porfirio Alvarez, a master kickboxer Hall of Famer from New York.

Joshua’s mother Mily Aguirre said Aguirre started taking lessons in family karate when he was 4 years old when his parents watched him kick around the house imitating a Bruce Lee movie he was watching.

Six years later, Aguirre has won roughly 180 medals and awards in competitions around the world, including six gold medals and the overall title at the 2021 Youth Olympic Games in Houston, Texas.

In recent years, Aguirre has become a local celebrity; many local politicians took the black belt test, followed by a party donated by Lebanon’s Mamajuana Lounge. As Aguirre continues to break records, the fact that he has become a role model or that the community has united behind him doesn’t get him lost.

“I want to represent that no matter how old you are, you can be the best you can be,” Aguirre said. “Never give up, always keep training, always keep exercising, always keep a strong mentality.”

“He’s like the heart of Lebanon,” said Mayor Shirley Capello. “He’s a positive force to be reckoned with.”

What’s next? Aguirre continues to work on his foundation, the Joshua Aguirre Foundation, which was established in 2021 to help children from low-income families start or continue playing sports. Donations can be made at joshuaaguirre.com/donate and families interested in getting help can contact jafoundationathletes@gmail.com.

In addition, Aguirre is launching a website with merchandise and is considering a bid to host the 2028 Olympics.

He said the third-level black belt was just a step toward his larger long-term goal.

“Achieving my third black belt means I can go on to earn more belts to achieve my dream of one day being a grandmaster and having my own school,” Aguirre said.

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