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Second-year biology student Christopher Round spends all of his free time at Pedro’s Judo Center in Wakefield. Judo is a form of martial arts that does not involve punching or kicking, but develops an athlete’s self esteem and overall focus. It is a combination of throws and pins, and as a competitor advances, the sport can also involve submission holds and arm locks.
For the past eight years, Round has trained at the gym, perfecting his skills and learning from his coaches and his father who practiced Judo at Pedro’s years before him. For the past six months, he has traveled around North America, taking with him all of the lessons in fighting and self discipline that he has been taught.
“As much as the sport is about fighting, it also has a secondary element that is very important. It teaches you to be a good person,” says Round. “Especially where I train, there’s an effort to ensure that Judo produces leaders as well as champions.”
Round traveled to Washington the weekend before the start of the fall semester for two different tournaments, taking home a gold medal at one. He fought at the Canada Open, called Rendous Vous, and then placed seventh at the United States Open in Colorado. Throughout all of these competitions, Round was training for the Benito Juarez Championships that would take place in Mexico.
The competition in Mexico was different than any of his previous fights. Crowds were packed into a small gymnasium, cheering as loudly as possible for the hometown fighter.
“In the U.S. it’s rare to have more than a few people cheering for someone, let alone a whole crowd,” says Round. “Granted they were cheering against me, but it was still pretty cool to see a crowd get to into a match.”
Because of his showing in Mexico, Round is currently the No. 9 ranked player in the country for his weight class. He will continue to compete, and has a tournament at his home gym in Wakefield in February. He then has National Championship and World Trials in April.
While Round came up just short of making the Olympic Trials this past season, he hopes to continue training and competing in order to make the team in 2012.