Upside: FilAm wins lone US gold in French kickboxing tilt

A Southern California teen stunned herself, her family and her coaches by bagging the gold medal at the Savate Boxing Youth World Championships June 22-24 in Podcetrtek, Slovenia.

Fourteen-year-old Logan Elle Diño, who is of Filipino – Vietnamese parentage, literally kickstarted her way to sports celebrity status by winning the first and only US gold in the competition.  Her team was the first ever to represent the United States in the ages 13-17 class, making history all around.

“We were in disbelief when the referee raised Logan’s arm,” the champ’s father Max Diño proudly told weeks later.  “It was an amazing moment for everyone. Her Lola (paternal grandmother Emma Palomar Dino) is probably her biggest fan and is extremely proud of her. She shared the good news with all her friends.”  They have not had their official victory party yet, says Max, who anticipates “a big family gathering (where) we’ll have all the Lolos, Lolas, Titos, Titas, and cousins over. Then we’ll celebrate.”

A firefighter and paramedic with the Los Angeles Fire Department, Max jubilantly recalled the joyful surprise ending to Logan’s three-day contest:

“The US team lost all their fights the first day. Morale was pretty down.  On the second day we lost all our fights until the last fight when (teammate) Sienna McCord won. We were so excited! On the last day Logan won and Sienna lost. Logan got gold and Sienna got silver. Those were the only two medals the US won.”

Held every two years, the competition welcomes fighters from France, Croatia, Italy, Serbia, Ukraine, Austria, Great Britain, Canada, and Ireland, adds Max, who is also in  Tactical Emergency Medical Support for LAPD SWAT.


The French version of kickboxing called Savate (suh-vaht) is little known here unlike in Europe, where it was believed to have evolved in the 1700s as a form of streetfighting in the streets of Paris and as stretch exercises that kept sailors physically fit during long voyages aboard French ships, according to US Savate Federation. Its modern version was developed by Frenchman Michel Casseux and later by Charles Lecour, who combined kicks with punches typical of English boxing in his self-defense studio.

From its humble beginnings the sport drew the interest of the nobility, eventually being regulated in the 1900s.  Savate earned legitimacy as a combat sport when it was included in the 1924 Olympics, its first and last time at the quadrennial international multi-sports tournament.  Seventy years later across the Atlantic, the US Savate Federation was founded.  Its current president is JoAnn Wabsica, Logan’s head coach along with Ed Monaghan.

The name comes from the French word for “shoe” or the Spanish “zapato” because of the boots worn in competition along with gloves.  While boxing and karate both use belt colors to signify rankings, savate uses glove colors, though fighters may use the same glove colors through a promotion.  Beginners, however, start with colorless gloves.  Logan prefers black but wear brown gloves, per Max.

Also known as “boxe Francaise,” graceful movements, high kicks and open-hand strikes define the sport’s moves.

If the description sounds familiar, it’s because savate actually comprises the balletic fluidity of motion which sets the legendary Bruce Lee apart from martial artists of his time.  Indeed, the “dragon” himself incorporated savate techniques in his Jeet Kune Do style as have many practitioners of mixed martial arts today.

Logan’s expertise coincidentally burst onto the global stage at the same time Bruce Lee loyalists commemorated his 50th death anniversary, adding wattage to her achievement and underscoring Lee’s enduring influence on martial arts. – Adapted from the original reprinted with permission from INQUIRER.NET.  Photos by Max Dino.


To be concluded.

 Cherie Querol Moreno is Executive Editor of Philippine News Today.