Decorated combat veteran claims grand champion title
Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
In the 26-year history of the Harrison County Tae Kwon Do School, many capable practitioners have passed through the ranks. Since the school first opened its doors in 1995, it has never had one of its own reach the status of Grand Champion Black Belt.
That changed on Oct. 2.
That was the day assistant instructor Ray Stanton became the first to earn the honor at the 74th Traditional Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan Association tournament at the old Crawford County Middle School in Marengo. Out of the 100 competitors who took part in the tournament, it came down to Stanton, a Lanesville resident and Army veteran, squaring off against Army cadet Joshua Payne, who represented Traditional Ways Tae Kwon Do School of Palmyra.
The two combatants came together as the champions of their respective weight classes (Stanton heavyweight and Payne lightweight), agreeing prior to the match to hold nothing back. The result of that agreement was a duel that went above and beyond expectations as the two warriors took the match into quadruple overtime. In the end, Stanton was the one to walk away victorious.
“First, I’d like to thank God for giving me the capability and opportunity to receive this blessing, as well as Master Rick Haines and Master Rob Roy for their continued guidance and years of support at Harrison County Tae Kwon Do School,” Stanton said. “Josh is a fierce competitor, and the match could’ve gone either way. I look forward to meeting him again at the next tournament.”
“Stanton and I have been sparring against each other competitively in tournaments for years now. Before our match, we both made an agreement with each other not to hold back and were both going to give it everything we have,” Payne said. “After winning first place in our respective divisions, I would say a match with four overtimes is proof enough that we both gave it our all. After he was announced the winner, I couldn’t help but give him a hug (because) we both just fought so hard for this. I felt absolutely no shame in losing to him because he brought everything to the table and he earned it. I’m looking forward to the next tournament and competing against him once for the title of grand champion.”