Kenneth Toledo’s story

Taekwondo here in Cebu started in 1982, during that time my dad Julius Toledo was one of the pioneer students. Every time he went to training, I always tag along with him and eventually learned few basic moves then. After two years of watching from the sidelines, I officially enrolled in Taekwondo last April 2, 1984 at the age of 9 yrs. Old. Since then I’ve learned to love the sport and trained hard that one day I’ll make it to the National Team.
In August 1, 1987 I finally got my 1st dan black belt and a week after joined my first tournament the 9th National Taekwondo Championship in Manila. I was still under the grade school division and made a very impressive tournament debut winning all four matches convincingly and emerge the Best Player of our team. It was also then that my dream of making it to the National Team came true when GrandMaster Sung Chon Hong ( Head of Philippine Taekwondo ) offered me a slot to be me a member of the first ever Gradeschool National Team.

However after a month training with the team, I had to drop out coz they wanted me to pursue my high school studies in Manila which I objected. I Went back to Cebu and continued my training under my dad. Joined several regional level tournaments which I dominated almost every division I competed. In 1989, went back to manila to join the 11th National Taekwondo Championships and sweep all 3 matches in KO victories and again got the Best Player award for team Cebu.

In 1992 I then moved up to the Juniors division and joined the 14th National Taekwondo Championships in Manila. I was the team Junior Bantam weight player and again won all my 4 matches lop-sided in which earned me the Best Player award and this time also a slot at the Junior National Team. But just like my 1st experience, I had to drop out after few months with the same reason that they wanted me to continue and finish my college in manila.

Few months after, I went to US and continued my Taekwondo training under Grand Master Richard Chun in New York. After working out for one day in the new gym, GrandMaster Chun saw my advance skills in the sport and never hesitated to offer me a job to be one of his instructors and to train his students for competitions. I accepted his offer and after 2 months of rigid training I competed in the 1993 New York Open Taekwondo Championships. I was competing in the Men’s fly wt division where most of the fighters are very fast with their kicks and tall. Despite facing tough opponents from different states I still manage to land a Bronze medal in my division.

In 1994, Cebu hosted the National Palarong Pambansa which also set the birth of the Cebu City Sports Center. Taekwondo also debuted in that same year and I was representing Region VII in the Bantam Weight Division. It was a field of very strong competitors from different regions since it was the pioneer edition but I still manage to grab a Bronze Medal. Actually I could have easily won the Gold medal if not due to the controversial decision during my semi-final match against Region I.

I felt the decision was so biased which cost me the slot in the championship round. With my lost at the semi-final round I was then drop to the loser bracket to fight for the bronze medal where I face the title favorite NCR player. I told myself that beating the NCR opponent will just prove one thing that I truly deserve the Gold medal and yes I did won the match convincingly. In 1997 I went back to US and this time trained and teached under Grand Master Mark Williams in New Jersey. That same year I also competed in the New Jersey Grand Prix Taekwondo Championships and won Bronze medal in the Men’s Fly weigh division.

Few months after I went back to the Philippines and joined the Philippine National Games held in Cebu. Top Taekwondo jins all over the Philippines we’re present in that tournament. The Cebu taekwondo best fighters also joined that prestigious event but with very strong competition, all of them failed to get a single medal except for myself. I consider that tournament to be one of the toughest competition I’ve ever joined with over 2,000 elite fighters all over the country vying for the Gold medal. I was then in the Senior Fly weight division with over 60 strong tkd jins clashing for the top 3 spot. I face a very strong opponent from Zamboanga on my opening match and won in points 4-1.

After an hour, I was back in the court for my 2nd elimination match against NCR player who was also currently in the National Training pool, it was a close match but I still won 4-2 points. However during that match I injured my left foot after landing a strong kick to my opponents elbow.  My left foot was all swollen right after the match that I needed to use anesthetic spray to temporarily relieve the pain since I have more fights to do. Then came in my 3rd elimination match facing opponent from Mindanao and again winning the match 3-0. My 4th match was now in the quarter-final match facing another tough opponent from NCR and beating him 5-2 in points. My pain in my left foot which was injured in the 2nd match was getting worst that even the anesthetic spray couldn’t stop it from aching already. In my 5th match of the day, semi-final round against Philippine Navy team I couldn’t execute my kicks well anymore due to my injured foot but manage to hang on til the end of the bout. It was still a close match but loosing it 3-2 in points. I settled for a Bronze medal after 5 hard fought match in one day.

In 2000, I was back in US and opened a school together with my close buddy Master Nathan Delgado. In the next 4 years I spend most of my life in US training and teaching in our school in Dumont, NJ. I was also training together with some current and former members of the US Taekwondo National Team. It was during this time that I was yearly competing in the New Jersey State Taekwondo Championships where I got Bronze medal in 2001 & 2002 and the Big East Taekwondo Championships where I was the 3 time Bantam weight champion from 2001, 2002 & 2003. The Big East event was a bigger one since it was a tournament composed of 4 states ( Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut ).

John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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