Action from the jiu-jitsu contest between Athlone’s Joey Cummins (right) and Mitchell Gliha. Photo: Finesse Photography/Carlos Diaz.

Athlone teenager competes at major jiu-jitsu event in Florida

A teenager from Athlone recently competed at a prestigious event for some of the most talented young jiu-jitsu competitors in the United States.

Thirteen-year-old Joey Cummins was part of the invitation-only Jitzkids tournament at Panama City Beach in Florida on August 22, where he took on Mitchell Gliha.

In the bout, which was broadcast on the Flo Sports streaming platform, Joey made a very strong start and was in control during the opening exchanges but a brief mistake resulted in him getting caught in a choke and coming out on the wrong end of the result.

Nevertheless, it was a positive step forward in the sport for the former Scoil na gCeithre Máistrí pupil whose family emigrated to Calgary, Canada, in 2013, and then moved to New York in 2015.

The eldest of three boys, with his brothers Sean and Michael, Joey is a son of Athlone couple Aoife (née Ducke) and Michael Cummins.

New York-based Athlone native Joey Cummins (13).

His proud dad spoke of Joey’s dedication to martial arts and said the experience of taking part in the Florida tournament would benefit him in the future.

“He will be better for the experience and hopes to be on the next card which is being held in a castle in Texas,” said Michael.

Joey has been competing in jiu-jitsu for eight years now. A little over two years ago, when he was 11, he and his then seven-year-old brother Michael won their divisions in the NAGA (North American Grappling Association) world championships.

Already this year Joey has won gold at the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Pride tournament in Long Island, New York, as well as two golds and a bronze at the NAGA championships in New Jersey.

In addition, he claimed a bronze medal at the Jiu-Jiitsu World League American Open in Las Vegas in May, which was no mean feat given the calibre of competition at the event.

In an average week Joey would train five to six times, for anywhere between one and three hours at a time. He trains at ‘Essentials Jiu Jitsu’ in New York, with JT Torres, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and two-time world champion, while John Marsh is his wrestling coach.

“He can’t wait for the opportunity to fight back home in Ireland, once all the restrictions are gone, with the Irish Open being a big target,” said his dad.

In Athlone, his granddad, also Michael Cummins, from St Patrick’s Terrace has been following Joey’s progress and was delighted to see his grandson represent Ireland on a big stage at the event in Florida.