Italians are no strangers to combat sports, and perhaps no modern characters epitomize that image more than the fictional “Italian Stallion” Rocky Balboa or the true-life icon “Raging Bull” Jake LaMotta.
At the other end of the spectrum, some might conjure up an image of a gentler kind in Ralph Macchio as The Karate Kid.
Somewhere between “wax on, wax off” and a freezer full of sides of beef battered with bloody knuckle stamps lies a contemporary story in full bloom.
In the northeast end of Montreal you will find a small gym with big block letters on the building: ANGELO DI BELLA KARATE KICKBOXING.
The owner and founder is Canadian born Angelo Di Bella. He’s an unassuming man, and at first glance you might not guess that he once stood at the pinnacle of the International Sport Kickboxing Association (ISKA) with an impressive 26-1 record, effectively retiring as world champion. No small feat!
Today, however, Di Bella dedicates his full attention to teaching both kids and adults. He may very well be kickboxing’s best-kept secret – a world class coach, sought after by elite athletes from organizations such as Glory and the UFC – right in our own backyard.
Bi Bella happens to be self-taught – a unique pedigree in this regard, forging himself through competition and sharing that knowledge as a teacher with a reputation as the best in the business.
The business for that matter is family run, and we could write an entire article on the “behind-the-scenes.” Word is Mrs. Di Bella keeps the whole operation running smoothly and efficiently – like a martial arts school should be run.
The school has been around since 1988. It’s clean, it’s sharp, it’s tidy, it’s modern. But really, what you feel is the living energy of excellence – that championship mentality that beckons you to be the best possible version of yourself. Totally pro. But totally inclusive.
A specialty of the Di Bella Kickboxing School is the kids’ program. More than half of the scheduling is devoted to children and the kids love it.
One of Di Bella’s top students is his very own son, Jonathan Di Bella. On first seeing Jonathan, one would think that he is just the sweetest kid, but when you see him hit the pads, frankly, it’s a little scary. This young man competes at 125 lbs. Despite his small stature, his power is uncanny. Coupled with his fluidity and timing, he’s nothing short of incredible to behold.
Although Jonathan is a striking specialist, he is nevertheless honing all his skill sets. On this day of training, he’s working on his wrestling with Canadian Olympic silver medalist “Gia” Sissaouri.
Word is spreading fast on his prowess. Though he only just turned pro, and with a record of 2-0, opponents have already begun dodging Jonathan, even dropping out of scheduled bouts.
Keep your eyes open for this 20-year old prospect!
For more information about the Di Bella Kickboxing School, please visit www.dibellakickboxing.com.