“I live, train, and preach in small-town, Lake Charles, Louisiana.”
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina obliterated parts of America’s Gulf Coast and much of the land beyond that coast, killing more than 1800 people and causing more than $100,000,000,000 in damages.
And while Katrina may mark the most infamous of hurricanes, it has not been a lonely devil. It’s brother Hurricane Harvey caused almost exactly as much monetary damage in 2017… the same year it’s deadly sister Hurricane Maria killed more than 3,000 in the Caribbean.
If millions of Americans had prayed the extreme weather would stop coming, the storms themselves were deaf to their pleas.
The biggest and most deadly cyclones would not be alone in wreaking havoc on the lives of Louisiana natives like Karate Combat’s Welterweight Champion Joshua “The Preacher” Quayhagen.
The original location of Quayhagen's PE Training Center was obliterated by Hurricane Laura
Louisianans have continued to face an unrelenting frequency of powerful, merciless storms, year after year, many of which devastate families and businesses, yet that the world takes little note of.
In fact, 2020 was the most active Atlantic Ocean hurricane season on record, a fact perhaps unknown to most, with the world’s attention focused largely on the coronavirus pandemic.
In Lake Charles, Louisiana, a city of about 85,000 souls, Quayhagen’s PE Training Center was ravaged by Hurricane Laura, which ripped rooves off of homes and blew down the walls of buildings.
Over a year later, after defending his welterweight title for the first time, Quayhagen’s gym is reopened at a new location.
Therein, he’s been hard at work rebuilding the facilities necessary to train for yet more title defenses.
This Fall, I spoke to the Welterweight Champion over the course of a few weeks.
Asking how things were going with renovations, he had this pic to share:
A Work-in-progress, the champ builds his own corner of a Karate Combat Pit wall
"Still gotta paint it and pad it, but the frame is done!"
A championship-level training innovation! I asked if he was building this himself.
“A friend of mine helped me build my first one, so I had some practice, but this one is all mine. Of course, I had some great assistants, too. This is 2.0.”
Asking if I could share the image in this article, the golden belt in Karate replied with an emphatic Yes.
“It was my biggest solo project to date, so I’m proud of it! I’m a white belt in carpentry. I think I just passed to yellow belt “
You get the idea talking to Josh that he is a humble fellow who is grateful for his community, family and friends.
And in his humility, reinforced by his debut loss at Karate Combat: Inception to Abdalla Ibrahim, Quayhagen seems to liken the storms' powers not to the powers of himself, but to his opponents.
In this metaphor, then, Quayhagen is the Southern Live Oak that breaks the wind, and does not merely remain standing at the end of every storm, but remains green all year long, each and every year, never retreating into hibernation.
Perhaps that explains his six-fight winning streak.
Quayhagen successfully defended his welterweight title at Karate Combat Okinawa against Dionicio Gustavo, moving to 6-1
I asked how everyone was holding up, if they were hanging tough, and how nervous he and those around him were about future storms.
“Indeed, my bro. I’ve learned so much over the past year. This storm was the hardest to ever hit us for sure, but around here we know the rain is coming almost every week, the big storms are coming every year, [and] if you don’t like it you should go live somewhere else.
“Every place has their storms, or earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, whatever. Everybody is going through stuff and it’s hard for all. This world is broken, and storms always are coming and going, but I’m becoming more cool with it.
The champion makes time to discover his inner peace
“I have my feet and hope firmly set on the Rock of all life. I got Jesus riding in my boat, I ain’t tripping about no waves, haha.
“I have found that over the past year [my] peace has only grown. It’s been hard, but like I tell my fight team, if you wanna be successful in life, you gotta fall in love with the hard stuff!”
After this it would be a few days before hearing from the champ again. Naturally, he was busy.
When next we spoke, he sent photos of the Pit wall he’d been working on, now finished.
Quayhagen's PE Training Center returns
“Just finished the new Pit, got the mats set up, but still a bit of meat left on this bone to work on.”
A few days after that, he celebrated the grand reopening of the PE Training Center. And no-doubt, his students of all ages, children, adults, amateur and pro competitors -- and their families -- were all looking forward to it.
Quayhagen's troop sporting Medals at the USKA National Championships
After congratulating him, I took the liberty to ask a few more questions.
I knew that before the Pandemic, the champ ran a food pantry for his community.
“Yeah we are still doing [the] food pantry. In fact, we have one this Thursday. We have gone from, pre-covid, every other Thursday pantries, to now one Thursday every couple of months”
How else had the coronavirus changed things?
“It’s now drive-through, so it’s a bit tougher process with more people involved, but there are some amazing ladies that run the show, really. I just make sure everybody is calm, cool, and loved.
“So it was tough for me with social distancing honestly, haha. I’m a ‘hugger, hand shaker, dap ‘em up, hold your hand and pray for you’ type of person at the pantry, so communicating through car windows was hard. But it’s still good to see them.
Backstage after defending his WW title, Quayhagen looks to his wife in a state of joy
“The people have become family. So, it’s been another covid punch. But we rolling with it. They sometimes are in line for hours, so [sometimes] I get a chance to communicate with them more than ever.
And what about logistics?
“We are a grocery pantry. So sometimes the process is pretty massive. Trailer trucks rolling in and out. Making bags constantly out of our church pantry. 300-to-400 cars in line. It’s cool to see how just an idea in someone’s head… ‘People are hungry. I want to help feed them.’ Can lead to such a huge thing.
“Started small with a few people showing and now feeds thousands. It’s crazy what a lil love and a big God can do! ‘Bring me what you got,’ He says… ‘let me show you what I can do,’ haha.“
It's clear that Quayhagen embodies a champion's mentality far beyond the Pit walls.
Whether the approaching storms are man made or "acts of God," the Karate Combat Welterweight Champion remains tenacious, strives for modesty, and stays firmly planted in his faith and community.
When it comes to choosing a place for physical and mental development, it's safe to say the people of Lake Charles, Louisiana (especially the parents of young men and women there) have an easy decision on their hands.
Coach Quayhagen in Karate Combat trunks, celebrating the promotion of his newly-minted Orange Belt
There may be a wide range of models for overcoming adversity, and none work for all, and perhaps none for most.
Nevertheless, Joshua Quayhagen embodies one model that's working for him... at the championship level.
Season 4 is coming...
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