One local martial arts educator has received the high honor of being named to the U.S.A. Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
Michael Spanko, owner of Mr. Spanko’s Family Martial Arts in Mineola, was inducted into the hall of fame on Aug. 25.
U.S.A. Hall of Fame is an alliance for martial arts enthusiasts to come together to network with each other.
“It’s a great honor and unexplainable to be in that hall of fame,” he said. “It’s like a family experience. They welcome you like a family.”
A Quitman graduate, Spanko began practicing martial arts in 1983 after his active duty in the U.S. Army ended. He has trained on and off since then.
He served in the army for 18 years, including four years active duty and the rest in reserves. Some of his stations were in Texas, Kansas, Belize and Panama.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. So I could support my dream after active duty,” Spanko said.
Spanko earned his sixth degree black belt in 2016. With 10th degree being the highest level, Spanko wants to at least become an eighth degree in the future.
The induction ceremony was in Ft. Worth, which featured a meet and greet and other activities throughout the weekend.
“It’s quite an honor to get called on stage like that. I’m really a late bloomer. But I never gave up. I was able to achieve my sixth degree black belt in 2016,” he said.
The school teaches taekwondo and self defense courses. Spanko enjoys being able to pass down his skills to his students.
“I’m just trying to help the community without costing it too much,” he said. “I’m just trying to pass my skills to the next generation.”
He added that martial arts gives him the chance to stay active.
Spanko has a day job at Wood County Precinct three and works as the Hainesville Volunteer Fire Department assistant chief.