Thu | Aug 5, 2021

Lawrence takes charge

Published:Sunday | June 30, 2019 | 12:13 AMAinsley Walters - Sunday Gleaner Writer

ACKEEM Lawrence has been thrown head-first into the lion’s den for next week’s US Open International Sports Karate Association (ISKA) World Martial Arts Championships, starting on July 3 in Orlando, Florida.

Appointed captain of Jamaica’s combined martial arts team in January, the 26-year-old lightweight tae kwon do fighter has been handed a notch-filled baton for his second assignment, which happens to be the world’s biggest martial arts open.

“Before me there was founder Jason McKay with 53 unbeaten matches, his successor, Arthur Barrows, followed by Nicholas Dusard and Adrian Moore,” said Lawrence, listing the combined team captains who preceded him.

After McKay stepped aside, Arthur Barrows filled the void before Dusard led Jamaica to International Taekwondo Federation World Cup team gold on home soil, Montego Bay, in 2014. Moore followed suit by lifting the team gold at the ISKA Amateur World Championships last year in the Second City.

“I actually led the team at the Ultimate Taekwon Do Open in New Jersey in April. We won 10 medals, including four gold in sparring, maintaining dominance at the annual tournament,” Lawrence pointed out.

“The US Open has always been a pretty big event for us, having won many titles there. The team is well prepared, and I expect strong performances from the likes of Richard Stone, Akino Lindsay, Nicholas Dusard, and Adrian Moore. Of course, I will be leading from in front in two team fights,” he said.

In addition to competing in the lightweight category at the new International Taekwondo Association US Open Challenge Championships (International Taekwondo Federation rules), set for Thursday, July 4, Lawrence will be in action on Saturday’s ESPN-televised Night of Champions, fighting Axel Vargas of Argentina in the International Taekwondo Federation World Championship bout.