One-armed Cooper City taekwondo teacher training to compete in 2020 Olympics

COOPER CITY, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida fighter has set his sights on gold for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Daniel Espinosa, or “Master Danny” to his students, shared his taekwondo tale and how he’s ready to aim for the top prize in the Olympic Games.

“It’s about passion,” said Espinosa. “Taekwondo is something I can’t describe what I’m feeling when I’m training. It’s something amazing.”

Espinosa made history at CATA Martial Arts in Cooper City. “I’m the only person in the world that fights with one arm in the regular competition for 20 years,” he said. “I never seen anybody competing with one arm in the Class A International Fighters.”

Originally from Cuba, Espinosa lost his arm in a train accident when he was 2 years old. He got into martial arts a few years later, then moved to the U.S. to get more professional fighting opportunities. It was hip surgery that forced him to retire in 2009. No more competing, but the passion was still there.

“What I feel in my heart when I retired in 2009, I talk with my wife and say, ‘You know what? I think I’m not done yet,'” Espinosa said.

He wasn’t sure how or when he would start competing again, but then news came that taekwondo will be making its paralympic debut in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“I got my second opportunity, and I want to take it,” Espinosa said.

He’s not the only Olympic hopeful in the room. There are his fellow parathletes Felix Sabates and Sophie Gimeno.

There is Espinosa’s son Luis, who reached a number one national ranking and top 10 world ranking in taekwondo. Luis said following his father’s footsteps comes with a lot of pressure, but it’s exciting to have someone so accomplished so close.

“It’s amazing. Nobody else has done it, so it’s a great honor,” Luis said. “A lot of people know him. ‘You’re Danny’s son?’ ‘Yeah,’ ‘Oh, I know him.’ They have a lot of respect for him.”

It’s a big deal for 17-year-old Luis and 42-year-old Master Danny, who takes no prisoners on the mat — not even when it comes to his youngest daughter.

Luis said it’s a good sign as the family looks ahead to 2020, and that his father has one advantage no one else does.

“He’ll win. Training with me? He’ll win,” Luis said.

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