Joseph Stelzik was only 4 years old when Tae Kwon Do masters told the boy’s father Duane Stelzik, 35, that Joseph had potential and became the youngest student to compete. Retired from the U.S. Army, Stelzik knew that gauging his son’s interest in martial arts was worth it.
“We went to Tae Kwon Do school. We sat and watched an hour of class and Joseph said, ‘That’s what I want to do,’” Stelzik remembered. Stelzik says the five years he spent in the Army was an influence. “My mind set was to teach him how to defend himself. A sense of toughness, mentally.”
Now at 12 years old, Joseph is in seventh grade and has been training in mixed martial arts for two years. Joseph got his nickname, “The Wolf Spider,” from a television show called “Monster Bug Wars.” “It’s a hunter, it’s fast, it never takes its eyes of its pray. I thought ‘that’s me.’”
Although his father is still the major source of funding, Joseph has endorsements from establishments including Tilted Kilt, MMA Stop, and Blitz Entertainment. “The gym he trains at sponsors him to come in and train,” said Stelzik. “They see him perform and it’s like, ‘Sure! We’ll support you.’”
From the outset of Joseph’s MMA career, his father, Duane closely monitors the blows he takes to the head. He says it’s a safe environment and admits that there are risks but, as with anything else, there are rewards as well.
Joseph trains five days a week for two and a half hours a day and has a strict diet. “I wake up at 7:30. I have my meal. I get ready for school,” Joseph said. “When I come home, I have a protein shake. I go to my training.”
Even though the future appears to be bright, Stelzik says he tries to keep his son grounded.
“We make sure that he’s still allowed to be a kid,” he said. “That’s really important.”
Joseph, whose MMA record currently stands at 8-3, sees himself being successful in the MMA world. “In the next five to 10 years, I see myself winning championships,” he said.