“A great champion is creative” undisputed kickboxer Michael Carson explains as we sit and talk in the BEDROC martial arts school off Railroad Avenue near the Rochester Public Market. Carson, who is in his mid-20’s, stands tall and toned with a friendly and humble persona that echoes out real confidence. Carson is a world champion in kickboxing after winning gold in Thailand and Italy while representing the USA for the International Combat Organization and the World Kickboxing Organization. He currently stands undefeated as he has gone 20-0 as an amateur and 3-0 after making his transition to the professional level.
Kickboxing is a combination of boxing and karate, where combatants wear boxing gloves
and are allowed to strike and kick each other, but are not permitted to engage in grappling, takedowns, elbows, or sweeps. Combatants can clinch each other for up to ten seconds and hit each other with their knees, but these rules can vary by promotional league. Generally, each match lasts three to five rounds, and each round lasts for three minutes with one minute breaks in between every round. Combatants gain points for each strike or hit landed, and the judges decide a victor at the end of a fight. The fight can also end via knockout, injury, or disqualification for violation of rules. As Carson states in simpler terms, “kickboxing is unlike a street fight and more like a game with rules.
Carson grew up on the east side of Rochester, New York off of Portland Avenue and went to Joseph C. Wilson Magnet High School. He grew up in a hard-working bluecollar family with his mother, grandparents, four sisters, and stepbrother. He is lightheartedly honest about where some of his knowledge of fighting came from: “I learned early on; you need to learn how to defend yourself, growing up in the hood.” Carson’s initial interest in kickboxing began when he was thirteen years old as he watched the now-defunct World Combat League founded by Chuck Norris on television after school, idolizing mixed martial artist Raymond Daniels, as well as taking an interest in martial arts movies starring Bruce Lee. Carson began taking taekwondo and wrestled from 8th grade until his junior year of college when an injury to his knee prevented him from further pursuing the sport.