Devyn Collum learned this past year just how far hard work and dedication can get you.
All the way to the top!
In December, Devyn received the state’s highest honor in mixed martial arts. The Wylie 6th-grader was awarded the honor of Golden Greek at the Texas Amateur Organization of Karate State Tournament here in Abilene.
“I was working extremely hard for it,” Devyn said. “I was extremely excited. I was bouncing off the walls and all that.”
Devyn got his first taste of karate at 8 years old when his brother and sister-in-law gave him a 10-day pass to Abilene Mixed Martial Arts as a gift.
“I went for those 10 days,” Devyn said. “I liked it, so I just kept going. I’m way better than when I started. I didn’t even know that I would ever be here for this long.”
A year ago, he decided to try to earn the Golden Greek Award, an extremely difficult feat. To earn the Golden Greek, you must be a Black Belt and you must earn more points than any other boy in the state 17 years and under. At 12 years old, he knew it would be a battle to win.
“I knew I would have to go to all the tournaments and do my best and work a lot harder,” Devyn said.
So he practiced three times per week and attended 26 tournaments all across the state. To earn his Black Belt, he began teaching the “Little Dragons,” the youngest students at Abilene Mixed Martial Arts.
“Little Dragons are little kids,” he said. “Sometimes they really wouldn’t listen to me. I would have to work and do what they like to do to help them learn karate.”
He said he learned a lot and had fun working with the young students.
“I learned ways to get them to listen,” he said. “I really enjoyed teaching them. And now they love me.”
He also had to compete in the Black Belt division at the tournaments he attended. Devyn traveled to 26 tournaments during the competition season and won almost all of them. In doing so, he reached his goal, earning his black belt and the most points of any boy in the 17 and under age group and obtaining the honor of Golden Greek. He was presented the award at the State Tournament.
“I was pretty proud of him,” said his mom Terri Collum. “He really dedicated his life to this. He had a goal, and he stuck with it.”
Devyn said his instructor, Larry Fields, also was proud.
“He was really excited for me,” Devyn said. “He pulled me off to the side, and he got tears in his eyes talking about it.”
Devyn said he is not going to be quite as involved in martial arts this next year as he focuses on baseball and prepares for 7th-grade sports. But he says he wants to continue to be involved because he has learned so much from it.
“It gives me confidence to do stuff in front of people,” he said. “It’s taught me a lot of manners. It’s helped me be a better person. It has taught me character and discipline.”
Terri said she is proud that Devyn accomplished what he did and that he did not let his grades suffer. And she is glad that he knows some self-defense.
“That’s a big deal being a single parent knowing that he can defend himself,” she said, “I just want him to be able to protect himself. It’s given him confidence as well.”
Devyn’s house is filled with trophies and medals that he has won from his success in martial arts, and even though it took a lot of time and hard work to earn Golden Greek, he said he would highly recommend martial arts to other kids.
“It takes a lot of work,” he said. “You have to give 110 percent. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. I get to travel. I’ve made friends. And it will give you a whole bunch of confidence in yourself.”