Dojo owner fights for local kids' future

Posted at 8:48 AM, May 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-09 10:58:46-04

Cosmo Zimik has devoted his life to martial arts.  Although he can punch and kick his way through any brick or board, belts and awards are not the reasons why he fights.  He goes to work every day using his time and talent for the kids.  It was quite the journey that brought Zimik to his current role.

From fighting in underground clubs in India to training law enforcement and military in multiple countries, his life has been full of adventure.  As he mastered the art of combat he says fighting led him on a path to God and ultimately working for the State of Idaho.

"I was a chaplain at the prison as a full-time employee by the State of Idaho and I was counseling a lot of the inmates," Zimik says.

Zimik enjoyed the counseling but wanted to do more.

"I quit the job and I took out my retirement money and I started this program right here in Nampa called Empty Hand Warrior. So we mentor kids, troubled kids, or any kids that really need help."

It’s all to help kids like Juan Ramirez.  When Juan was just 10 years old he was already in a gang in Nampa.

"At 10 years old I was already tagging stuff and stealing bikes," Ramirez says.  Luck brought him to Zimik.

"I was walking by the first gym we had, way over there in the big alley, and I was walking and he invited us in," Ramirez says.

Zimik made sure they stayed in the gym and off the streets.

"And every time we wouldn't show up, he'd come looking for us. He knew our schedule so we had to be there at four and if he would get mad we would have to mop and clean toilets," says Ramirez.

"I'm kind of like their dad in a way. A lot of even the gang kids feel that I am stable and they can come to me," says Zimik.

Once on a path that was seemingly destined for prison Juan now runs an expansion of Zimik’s dojo and teaches kickboxing, helping at-risk youth like he once was.

"Oh, I'm real grateful, real grateful.  I could have been there and now I'm here and I have my own gym I'm running with these guys," Ramirez says.

"The whole reason I fight is because of these kids. They give me hope and when they change their lives it's like, ‘Wow,’ that's the reason I'm doing this," says Zimik.

To learn more about Zimik’s programs, including scholarships so at-risk kids can train and receive equipment for free, click here.