Hamline News

Sophomore Named World Kickboxing Champ


Dressed in black athletic pants and a green hoodie, Zack Koppa ’17 might look like your typical college sophomore. His Facebook friends know all about his silly sense of humor, love of cars, and penchant for procrastination.

But make no mistake: Koppa is far from ordinary. He’s a world kickboxing champion.
“My parents were right.” That was the first thought that went through Koppa’s mind after he won gold at the World Karate and Kickboxing Commission World Championships competition in Dublin, Ireland, last October. “They believed in me and told me that I was going to bring home that medal when I was riddled with doubts,” he says.

Koppa beat a competitor from Northern Ireland to take first place in the under-60-kilogram 18+ division for Team USA.

A third-degree black belt, Koppa trains six to seven days a week at The Edge Martial Arts and Fitness studio in Stillwater, where he is also the director and head instructor.

Now 20, Koppa began studying martial arts at the age of 13. To become the best in the world, he has had to make some sacrifices, but he doesn’t regret any of the “sweat, fatigue, bruised ribs, black eyes, scarred skin, and soreness,” he says.

“It’s an almost constant struggle with feeling battered and busted, but all that just motivates me to keep going and become even faster, stronger, and smarter than I already am.”

Academically, Koppa pushes himself as well. He’s on schedule to graduate early with a major in psychology and minor in philosophy. Post-graduation, he plans to compete for more titles and “cultivate some champion students” of his own.