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Army Taekwondo Specialist Going for Gold in World Games

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., Aug. 11, 1999 – Army Spc. Louis Davis has kicked and punched his way to a second-degree black belt in taekwondo. Now he's trying to use his skills to help the United States capture top honors in the 2nd Military World Games in Zagreb, Croatia.

Davis is also trying to add a third gold medal to his collection, hoping that will propel him into the Army's World- Class Athlete Program at Fort Carson, Colo.

"I was pretty close to getting there this year, but I slipped up," said Davis, who didn't spill more details. The vehicle mechanic from the 12th Chemical Company in Kitzingen, Germany, gathered with teammates at the U.S. staging area at Aberdeen before heading to the games in Croatia Aug. 5-18. More than 8,000 military athletes from 78 countries are competing in the games, sponsored by the International Military Sports Council.

Davis' father, a first-degree black belt, introduced him to karate at an early age. He only became interested in military sports in June 1993, however, when he attended the national taekwondo championships in St. Paul, Minn.

"When I saw the armed forces team march in, I was shocked -- dumbfounded," he said. "I didn't know the armed forces had a taekwondo team. I made a promise to myself that if I joined the military, one day I'd become a part of that team. Well, that day has come."

His quest for world-class competition began in 1996 at Fort Hood, Texas, where three sergeants in the sports program helped him become part of the post taekwondo team. Davis said he has since fought in so many tournaments that he's lost count of his medals.

He's particularly proud of his record in Germany and called competing on the German taekwondo circuit part of his "grand plan." Maneuvering his way into the German circuit wasn't easy, though, he noted. "It took a lot of prayer to God and I had to meet the right kind of people," he said.

"My recent accomplishment was taking the Bavarian championship," he noted. "I also won a gold medal at the All-Army trial camp and a gold medal in the armed forces championship at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., last April." He became a member of the German Taekwondo Union in December 1998 and believes he's the only American in the organization.

"I'd requested an assignment in Germany to experience competing against European taekwondo experts," Davis said. "Half of the tournaments I competed in were international competitions. The Germans are some tough hombres."

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1999 Military World Games

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Spc. Louis Davis chats with Navy Vice Adm. Daniel T. Oliver, chief of naval personnel, about his taekwondo skills and Army career. They met at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., where Davis and more than 350 other military athletes marshaled before heading to the 2nd Military World Games in Zagreb, Croatia, Aug. 5-18. Oliver was one of the speakers at a rousing send-off. Photo by Rudi Williams  
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