Mark Wittig (2012)

Mark Wittig

Why would an athlete with a promising kickboxing career and his youth in front of him drop it all to serve his country in the Armed Forces? Is it a sense of duty, maybe a childhood dream or even the desire to have a solid career? His reasons are all of those and one more, a little bundle of energy and joy named Isabella.

Mark Wittig, a soon to be 22-year-old who graduated from River Ridge High School in 2012 did not have the smoothest experience in public school. “Middle school was ok but when I went to high school I was the little kid,” said Mark.

Mark has a speech impediment but that’s not the only roadblock he came across. “I had a really hard time learning subjects like math, so I went to Sylvan Learning Center for a while,” said Mark. “I didn’t play any sports but when I was 14 I started lifting weights and at 17, I started training in Muay Thai Kickboxing.” He began his training at South Sound Martial Arts with the first traditional Cambodian Muay Thai trainer in the state of Washington, Srab Sroeuy.

After graduating from River Ridge High School, Mark began competing regularly and eventually became the Northwest Fight Challenge Champion in November of 2014. “Everyone was telling me I’m going to get knocked out and I refused to listen,” Mark said while remembering the lead up to fight night. “Even my chiropractor told me I shouldn’t do it. In training camp I hurt my foot so the entire time I wasn’t able to kick and every sparring session I’d get beat up because I couldn’t move very well.”

That didn’t deter him though. “I was really nervous waiting that night for my match. All but one of my teammates fighting in the competition had already lost. I was watching all of my friends get knocked out or beat up and it wasn’t a good feeling right before I had to go in. But I ended up winning a unanimous decision – 4 rounds to 1.”

Since then, Mark has competed a few more times, ending with a record of 6 wins and 3 losses. For Mark, fighting is an adrenaline-rush, but he could see the writing on the wall. “The reason I wanted to stop and just focus on my future is because I saw my friends at 29 years old, 33 years old, professional fighters who were still living with their parents,” Mark said. “They are waiting tables just to survive and then trying to make it as a fighter. The possibility of me making it as a fighter is very low.”

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