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Peter Kim - From Drug Abuse to Dedication

Martial arts mentor leads teen out of self destructive cycle

Owner of the gym is a man named Matt,
But who I trained with most was named Sepuloni Pouha

When I was 15, I just barely gotten out of Taekwondo after competing in the International Taekwondo Festival in LA. I had grown tired of the traditional martial arts point sparring and wished to pursue a more realistic form of combat.

I started training Muay Thai at the Phoenix Gym after visiting a few gyms and felt most comfortable there.

From there, I went through my own personal struggle outside of Martial Arts. Falling into a severe drug habit. I was smoking cigarettes, nearly killing myself with alcohol poisoning, overdosing on opiates and getting my heart broken. I was cutting myself and contemplated suicide many times. Each time I saw myself at the edge of death, ready to give and surrender into the next stage. I didn't.

When I was struggling in school, with my own chronic depression, and self-harm, I found solace in the Phoenix Gym. Training there with the most loving people ever, some of the most deadly too haha. Whenever I wanted to kill myself, I went to the gym and kicked the heavy bag a thousand times. Whenever I needed someone to laugh with, Sepu and the guys were there right with me shooting the shit.

I remember this one time, Sepu and I got angry at each other in the ring and started brawling really hard. We were pretty equal and left each other pretty scratched up. Afterwards, I went up to him and apologized for letting my temper get the best of me because this was right after I had overdosed on suboxone, attempting to kill myself after a girl I was chasing told me she was falling for me but decided against it, judging my character as something terrible.

I confided in him and admitted my problems with drug abuse. Instead of yelling at me, or being angry, or scolding me like I was used to at my Taekwondo school, he gave me a hug and cried with me. Because he too struggled with heroin and opiates when he was 16.

From there, I felt love start to surround me there. As newer people came in, Sepu and I remained there, sparring it out every chance we got to. He laughed with me, punched me in the face when I needed it, had conversations with me. He was more than a coach or an instructor, he became my best friend. And as I started to feel less lonely, I started to quit drinking. I quit opiates, I quit doing meth, I quit cigarettes so that I could stay in shape to spar with this 230-lb. gentle giant.

Now, at 17, I can safely say that I enjoy sobriety. While I'm working full time and cannot find the time to train too much anymore, I know if I ever come back in there, Sepu's gonna be there. And he'll greet me with a smile and a hug. If it wasn't for those guys, I don't think I would still be alive today.

So I just want to give him a final thank you before I have to spend the majority of my time working now. A thank you for bringing this depressed little kid up from drug addiction and suicide. He may not have known everything that was going on in my life, but the love he gave me is irreplaceable. Not only did I learn how to throw a good low kick, a good jab, left hook, how to clinch up and throw knees, how to grapple on the ground, but I also learned how to be a better martial artist through the stories and lessons he gave me very in a very subtle manner. I'm gonna miss him so much.

Learn more about Greatmats Most Inspiring Martial Arts Story $1000 Giveaway.



Peter Kim
The Phoenix Gym
Salt Lake City UT 84106
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