By Lincoln DePradine
It is widely known that Canada’s top individual female global sporting champion is Bianca Andreescu, who won the U.S. Open Tennis championship last September. What’s not so well-known is that the latest male individual world champion is a Black Canadian, Ethan Small, whose parents were born in Jamaica.
Small travelled to Chile recently to compete in the Junior World Karate Championships. The 16-year-old Mississauga resident won four matches at the competition, including his final against Ibrahim Shamoun from Jordan, and returned to Canada as gold medal champion.
“I’ve had a lot of people congratulating me and a lot of handshakes from my teachers. Everything else has been the same,’’ said Small.
An older sister was enrolled in karate by his parents and he followed in her footsteps. “When he was about four years old, I decided that it was time for him to start getting in there and start doing his thing,’’ father Anthony Small told The Caribbean Camera.
The youngster has never stopped training and has competed at karate tournaments at home and abroad, primarily at the expense of his parents. He qualified for the Junior Worlds in Chile after winning silver at last year’s Pan American Games.
“This thing is bankrupting me; I have no life. All we do is take him to practices and competitions,’’ said Small.
“There’s not a lot of funding in karate,’’ Small added. “This year, we’re really trying to sit down and figure out how we can structure the fundraising earlier. The hope is to get him into more international meets.’’
Small would like his son to participate in a junior competition in 2021 in South Africa and another Senegal in 2022. However, the immediate attention is this weekend. There’s an Ontario karate competition in Vaughan; it’s a first step to athletes wishing to be selected to Team Canada.
“In order to make Team Canada you have to first get on Team Ontario. Then, Team Ontario competes against the rest of the provinces and the three from the provinces makeup Team Canada,’’ explained Small’s father. “He gets a bye to the Canadian championships because he is the Canadian champion; but, he still has to compete in the Team Ontario tournament on Sunday.’’
The younger Small is not limited to karate. He also is an avid volleyball player.
“This is going to be a very interesting weekend for him,’’ his father said. “He plays volleyball for one of the top teams in Ontario and we have a volleyball tournament in Guelph on Saturday, and on Sunday he competes in the Ontario karate tournament.’’
Small said he and his wife are “proud’’ of their son’s achievements in karate, including his gold medal win in Chile. “It seems that as he gets more competition, he gets better,’’ said Small.
Academically, he said his son “does well’’ in physics and other sciences but would like to see improvements in subjects such as history and English.
Major highlights from Ethan’s Karate career to date include;
2016 Bronze medalist at the Junior National Championships 12/13yrs +52kg in Richmond, BC
2017 Silver medalist at the Junior National Championships 12/13yrs +52kg, Quebec City, Quebec
2017 Gold medalist Jr. Pan American 12/13yrs +52kg in Buenos Aires, Argentina
2018 Gold medalist 14/15yrs +70 kg Jr. Canadian National Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia
2018 Represented Canada at the Jr. Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
2018 Ontario Male Kumite Junior Athlete of the year under 19
2019 Gold medalist at the Jr. Canadian National Championships 14/15 +70kg in Edmonton, AB
2019 Silver medalist Jr. Pan American 14/15 +70kg in Guayaquil, Ecuador
2019 Gold Medalist WKF World Jr. Karate Championships in Santiago, Chile – **** ”…First Canadian ever to win a gold medal at a WKF World Karate Championships in a mainstream division…”