Feature Stories

He's a Taekwondo Champ Training for the Olympics

David Takacs, (left in red helmet) kicking his way to victory in the Tae Kwon Do USA Nationals 2011.

David Takacs is juggling a demanding major – architecture – with a monumental athletic endeavor:  He’s training for the Olympics.

David, a junior, is one of the top-ranked Taekwondo fighters in the nation.  He’s a fourth degree master and a member of the U.S.A. National Taekwondo Team. He recently won first in his weight class (welter weight, 168-176 lbs.) in the New York State Taekwondo Championships.  And he’s won countless state, national and international competitions, recently taking first in the European Championships

He would have qualified for the 2012 Olympics. But he chose not to enter.  He first wants to earn his architectural degree, which he expects in 2014, and then compete in the 2016 Games.  Right now, he spends about eight hours a day studying and two to four hours training.  But after he graduates from NJIT he’ll have more time to train. And more training means he’ll have a better chance of winning an Olympic medal, which is his goal.  

“My studies is my priority now,” says David, who belongs to the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at NJIT. “But Taekwondo is my life-long passion. And if I win an Olympic medal in 2016, the possibilities for major sponsorships and commercials will be endless.” 

David is coached by his father, Tibor Takacs, a two-time European wrestling champion for Hungary. Tibor has a black belt in Taekwondo and is a certified trainer and coach.  David commutes to NJIT and sometimes trains in the NJIT gym. When he’s home, though, he trains with his father -- the family lives in Metuchen.  Once he graduates he’ll train more seriously with his father. David was born in Hungary – his family later immigrated to America – so he could also represent the Hungarian National Team in the 2016 Games.

David started doing Taekwondo when he was five.  When he was 10, he began competing in local and state contests.  At 12, he was winning state competitions. And at 15, he won the Junior Olympic World Championships. He was 19 when he made the U.S.A. National Team. Now 20, the 6’2” and 175-pound kicking machine has his sights set on an Olympic medal.   

“My future has a lot of promise, both with architecture and Taekwondo,” says David. “I’m grateful to have two opportunities to succeed in life, and right now I’m trying to excel at both.”

Tony Howell, executive director of the EOP at NJIT, said he was surprised to learn recently that David was a Taekwondo champion.  Howell characterized David as a good student, a quiet and “unassuming young man.”

“So it’s amazing to me how he can transform himself into a fighting machine with such power, precision and grace,” added Howell. “We in EOP are rooting for him and hope he wins gold in 2016.”

(By Robert Florida)