It is not the norm for Kisumu to produce top martial arts players considering this is a place where football flows in the veins of most sports enthusiasts.
The county is 'home' to top Kenyan Premier League football clubs Chemelil Sugar, Western Stima, Kisumu All Stars and Gor Mahia.
However, Shawn Michaels opted to rewrite the history books as he turned to taekwondo martial artist.
Though not usually loved by fans as they would with football, Michaels considers taekwondo part of his life.
“The discipline of taekwondo leads to better health and fitness, greater coordination, and higher self-esteem. These qualities are vital to a happier, longer life. This is why I love this sport,” said Michaels in an interview with Standard Sports.
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Michaels is a third Dan Black Belt holder with three international gold medals to his name. He has also won silver and bronze medals since he made his debut in the sport four years ago while still a student at Kisumu Day High School.
Quite dominant in the featherweight 68Kg category, Michaels bagged his first gold medal in his international debut in 2016 during the Korean Ambassador Cup held in Kenya.
He later that year won the same tournament’s edition in Rwanda before reaching the quarterfinals of the Kenya Open championship in Yala, Siaya County.
In 2017, he represented Kenya at the World taekwondo championships in Muju, Korea before reaching the quarterfinals of the Chairman’s Cup in Mombasa.
He considers last year to be the highlight of his career after he was declared Kenya's top player in the featherweight category. He also competed in five championships.
“Emerging top in Kenya made me realise that I am destined for greatness. It made me work harder for I knew I can get better,” he said.
He redeemed himself during his second appearance at the Chairman’s Cup in Mombasa by winning bronze medal before claiming gold in the national team selection championships.
He then represented Kenya at the All African Games in Rabat, Morocco, where Kenya finished eighth before winning silver at the Genocide Memorial Cup in Rubavu, Rwanda.
He then put the icing on the cake by claiming gold at Korean Ambassador Cup in Arusha, Tanzania.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic that has disrupted sports world over, Michaels is training hard as he seeks to retain his title at the Korean Ambassadors Cup in Rwanda.
“My goal is to retain the gold medal in Rwanda when the tournament resumes after the coronavirus,” said the 20-year-old.
He also dreams of competing in the Olympics and has set a target of qualifying for the 2024 Games in France.
He pays tribute to his father and coaches Samuel Kanyoro and Moses Muturi for helping him improve in this sport.
Born in Kisumu, Michaels was raised in a martial arts family (his father and siblings are all taekwondo martial artists).
However, he chose a different path during his childhood years MM Shah Primary School.
After he joined Kisumu Day High School, he turned to playing handball and football.
It was not until he started watching some taekwondo clips that he started to take keen interest in the sport.
Off the taekwondo mat, Michaels is a Business Information Technology student at Strathmore University.