WOW Taekwondo in Waxhaw hosted Olympic silver medalist, Issoufou Alfaga, on Saturday, November 4. The Taekwondo Heavyweight World Champion, who stands an imposing 7-feet tall, came to Waxhaw as an honored guest of Master Jonathan Flemming, owner of WOW Taekwondo, and his friend, and fellow athlete, Hama Alzouma.
Alfaga traveled across the world, from his home country of Niger, to hold two sparring sessions in the WOW training space- one for beginners, and one for more advanced students. The once in a lifetime opportunity for local students of the martial arts to learn from a leader in their sport was a highlight few get to experience during their years of training.
The day was filled with excited energy as Master Flemming and Alfaga worked together to train students from several local Taekwondo schools. While WOW Taekwondo was the coordinating venue of the visit from the Olympian, they generously offered students from other schools the chance to participate in Alfaga’s classes.
The morning saw a class for beginning students, while the afternoon was focused on advanced skills for experienced athletes. The classes were offered for $45 and $75, respectively, and spanned three to six hours in length.
An open luncheon was held between the sessions, where Alfaga greeted fans and posed for pictures. He sported pants with the recognizable green 2016 Brazil Olympics logo on them, and a WOW Taekwondo top that read “Issoufou” between the shoulders. His demeanor was friendly but serious, and it was easy to see the focus and determined character that led him to become one of the world’s best martial artists.
Watching Alfaga explain, and then demonstrate new skills and techniques to the attending martial artists was a show in itself. He and Master Jonathan Flemming made a formidable duo in their presentation of advanced Taekwondo techniques. The sparring movements mimicked a perfectly choreographed dance between the two men.
A combination of extraordinary strength and skill made the towering Alfaga look graceful and relaxed while he performed complicated moves with exact precision. His ability to execute kicks in rapid sequence with ease made his title of African Gold Medalist in Taekwondo no surprise to even the untrained eye of a novice viewer. Issoufou Alfaga exemplified the awe-inspiring type of athleticism found in a very rare and very committed few on earth, and having a chance to see it live, in the small venue was really profound and impressive.
While Alfaga was here, he agreed to partner with WOW Taekwondo in their mission toward supporting the not-for-profit, Lily Pad, Inc. The Charlotte-based organization works to help victims of human trafficking break free from their situations by providing emergent and transitional support and care. Alfaga raised funds for Lily Pad, Inc’s by breaking concrete slabs for onlookers in exchange for their monetary donations to the organization.
Issoufou Alfaga is a once-in-a-lifetime athlete, and his visit to south Charlotte was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to match. While his time here was short, the impression he left behind will be long lasting for all who were able to participate in the experience WOW Taekwondo brought to Waxhaw.