At just 25, Cherupalli Vivek Teja, who won gold (Kumite 75kg category) at the US Open International Karate Championship recently, already has 60 medals under his belt, 28 of them being gold.
“Winning the US Open is a huge achievement for me because it will help strengthen India’s candidature and contention for the 2020 Olympics. Playing in various countries and rubbing shoulders with international players has made me a better athlete,” he says.
The secret to Vivek’s success is discipline, the right attitude and working out. “I work out six hours a day in three sessions. In the morning, I train for two hours in martial arts, in the afternoon I work on weight and strength training and for another two hours in the evening I practice martial arts.”
The youngster is already an expert in seven fighting styles (Karate, Kickboxing, boxing, Muay Thai, Kalaripayattu, Silambam and Taekwondo) and had also won the World Martial Arts Championship in Australia in 2016, at 23.
“I have been fascinated by Karate since childhood and had started learning it from Class III. I was also passionate about learning other fighting styles. But, it was during my first year B. Tech, that I decided to make a career in this field,” he recalls, adding, “Initially, many people tried to discourage me saying martial arts was not a lucrative career choice and that I was wasting my time. All this criticism only made me more determined to prove them wrong. Also, I wasn’t disheartened because my parents always supported me.”
The Nalgonda-born lad adds that the demand for Karate teachers is only growing, which makes it challenging. “Back then, Karate was different. Although the government is supportive these days, it still needs to encourage it. With Karate changing with the times and with new styles of martial arts coming, we need to update ourselves. You have to keep on winning and only then will you be able to compete internationally,” he says.
Vivek, who is currently preparing for the Thailand Open International Championship in July and the Asian Games in Indonesia in August, wants to set up his own academy. “I know how difficult it is to get sponsors because I am currently going through it. That’s why I want to set up an academy and fund financially weak players and prepare them as medal aspirants.”