GREENFIELD CENTER, N.Y. (NEWS10) — At 11 years old, Damian Snyder will soon be entering sixth grade in the South Glens Falls School District. But he’ll also be heading to Turkey to compete for Team USA in the Youth Muay Thai World Championships.
Damian has been training at the Saratoga Academy of Elite Martial Arts, located inside the Ndakinna Education Center in Greenfield Center, for two and a half years. He does it all: Karate, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kyokushin and Muay Thai, as well Wrestling for the school district.
“It’s been a heck of a ride, that’s for sure,” said Damian’s father, Chris Snyder.
Damian has had about seven amateur Muay Thai fights so far, with only two being sanctioned. He recently had a fight for Freedom Fighters Promotion in New York City where he ultimately lost by decision, leaving him with a 0-2 record.
“It was a ridiculously close fight and I don’t particularly agree with the judging but I understand why they leaned that way,” said Damian’s Coach, Don Walton. “But at the same time, at no point did Damian look defeated.”
“All of these sanctioned matches that he’s had, we haven’t looked for anything easy,” said Chris. “He hasn’t fought a child that has a losing record. He’s fought people that are more experienced.”
“I’m not mad at my record because once I hit 18 it just goes back to zero,” said Damian.
Damian was offered the spot on Team USA after they saw him fight at the USA Muay Thai Youth National Championships in Indiana. He has also fought in exhibition matches in California.
“He impressed all the right people,” said Chris. “It’s nice to see his hard work and dedication pay off for him.”
Chris said Damian works out more than anyone he knows and they spend about 12 hours a week at the Saratoga Academy of Elite Martial Arts. Damian also does at-home running and works with Speed Conditioning Coach Brandon Baum of Curby Training Center in Troy.
“There’s not many 11-year-olds I know that would be going into a fight, going through he weigh-ins, watching his weight with a smile on his face and enjoying every single minute of it,” said Chris.
“It’s awesome to be his parent and be able watch him go through this roller coaster of life and watch him succeed at almost everything that the kid tries,” said Damian’s mother, Crystal Snyder. “It makes me feel good as a mom but it also makes me so proud.”
“I’m excited to know that I’ve made it to the national team and shown my skills but yet again I’m also nervous because it will be my first time leaving the country,” said Damian.
The USA Youth Muay Thai National Team includes kids from all over the country. The tournament takes place from September 29 to October 7 in Belek, Turkey.
The Snyders have been fundraising non-stop for the trip. They’ve been selling shirts that say “Team USA Diamond Boy Damian” and have been reaching out to local businesses to see if they’ll sponsor him.
In total, Chris said the trip will cost around $8,000. So far, they’ve raised about $4,500 in a month’s time. If you’d like to donate to help fund Damian’s trip, you can visit the GoFundMe website.
Shihan James Bruchac is the Saratoga Academy of Elite Martial Arts Founder and Head Instructor. The school started in 2011 and has expanded to include both adult and youth classes in multiple disciplines.
“I’m just really excited for our school to be able to have somebody represent us on that kind of a level,” said Walton.