Chicopee man with Down syndrome breaking barriers and boards with martial arts

Hampden County

Josh Gregoire may have Down syndrome, but there is no keeping him down. He’s breaking boards and barriers.

The 23-year-old went viral with a video of his first place win at a martial arts board breaking competition in November.

What may surprise you, he’s only been doing martial arts for two months and already he is beating seasoned competitors.

Gregoire signed up for a class at the Center for Human Development where he was connected with Coach Ken Goodrich and from there a star was born.

Coach Goodrich told 22News its Josh’s willingness to just go for it that is leading him to success.

“He has an energy and a light inside him that just wants to come out and I think a lot of people saw that, that day,” Coach Goodrich said. “He kind of went in and that being his first time, not really sure what to expect. I know his parents didn’t know what to expect. When he did his first break, it was like everyone just take a step back, ‘did you just see that.'”

Gregoire is used to competing against people with disabilities as a powerlifter for Special Olympics.

However, he beat people of all abilities to win this board-breaking competition.

“Makes me [a] strong man, I am the best,” said Gregoire.

He has overcome many obstacles in his 23 years, he wasn’t verbal until he was 16. Now he’s helping Coach Goodrich with demonstrations for other students.

“I show them like this, and I help them kick the target,” said Josh.

Plus, not only did Gregoire gain martial art skills, but he’s also made a lifelong friend, his Coach Goodrich.

For now, Gregoire is preparing for his next competition, the 2019 USBA/WBA Massachusetts State Breaking Grand Championship here in Chicopee in February.

Gregoire encouraged Ashley Afonso to even give board breaking a try, you can watch that video below.

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