Cousins Daemon Lewis and Kaleb Descoteau are continuing a family legacy in the sport of Muay Thai.
Daemon, 10, and Kaleb, 11, both from Duncan, will be in Calgary this weekend for the WBC World Games Qualifier, hoping to secure a chance to represent Canada at the WBC World Youth Games in August. The boys, who both started training at World Class Muay Thai in Chemainus last October, have come a long way in a short time.
That should come as no surprise, considering their bloodlines.
Daemon’s dad, Andrew Lewis, is a pro Muay Thai fighter and former Canadian champion. Kaleb’s mom and Andrew Lewis’s sister, Meagan Reid, also trains at WCM. Andrew and Meagan’s mom — Daemon and Kaleb’s grandma — Cheryl Hashimoto, started training at the age of 46 and has also fought for Canadian titles, and was even on the same card as her son in Thailand a few years ago.
“[Cheryl] spread some good warrior genes,” says Artur Nowacki, co-owner and coach at WCM along with Jess Gladstone.
Daemon’s little sister, Keira, is too young to compete at this point, but also trains and, according to her coaches, “has flawless technique.”
Daemon got his start in martial arts at the age of four, when he started training in jiu jitsu. Naturally, he was inspired to get into Muay Thai by watching his dad.
“I saw my dad doing it, so I wanted to try it,” Daemon explains. “I really liked it and I kept going. I like the competition of it.”
Daemon recently finished first in his class at the Be First Championship in Victoria.
“He has a lot of power for his size and age,” Gladstone says.
Kaleb had farther to go when he started Muay Thai last October, but he has overcome every obstacle.
“If you look at him where he started, he had the highest growth curve,” Gladstone says.
Kaleb broke his foot at school not long before the Be First Championship, and was concerned that he might miss the competition. Instead, he changed his style to be more knee-oriented, and it worked great for him as he battled to third place in his division.
Kaleb says he didn’t know what to expect when he started Muay Thai, but, like his cousin, he enjoys the competitive aspect.
“It’s about more than self-defence,” he relates. “There are competitions all over the world. I don’t see it as self-defence anymore. I see it as something people do for a competitive sport.”
WCM only had adult students before last fall, when about 15 students started training, largely under Gladstone. Daemon and Kaleb are “an inspiration for most of the other kids,” the coaches say.
The competition this weekend is overseen by the World Boxing Council’s Muay Thai arm, which regulates, sanctions and supervises professional Muay Thai championships all over the world. This is the first time the sport has had competitions at this level for youth, due in part to its recognition last summer by the International Olympic Committee that could see Muay Thai included in the Olympics as soon as 2028.
Nowacki, who took a contingent of six athletes from his gym in Calgary to the World Cup in Sweden in 2016, says the Olympics are an attainable goal for both cousins.
“[The WBC Youth Games] are a stepping stone for the Olympic ideal,” he says. “It’s very doable for them.”