Devin Javois's parents originally put him in karate classes to get him off the streets of Paterson, which they succeeded in, but they also helped Devin discover a sport that he was passionate about and inevitably extremely talented at.
This past winter break, Devin Javois, a freshman at Ramapo College, became the Junior World Champion of Japanese/Okinawan forms.
Devin and his parents never quite had in mind that he would be a world champion when they decided to put him in karate classes in 2000. The original goal was simple: keep him off the streets of Paterson, N.J.
The choice to put Devin in karate lessons was not a random one. He was not the first person in the Javois family to practice karate; he was taking after his father, who practiced karate while in college and supported Devin's pursuit of karate.
"If it weren't for the support from everyone around me, I wouldn't be where I am today," Devin said.
Devin started his training in Vargas Shotokan Karate Studio, but four years into his training, the studio closed down.
But Devin's parents still insisted on keeping him off the streets, and therefore decided to put him in some other sports. Devin tried t-ball and soccer, but he was never interested in other sports as much as he was interested in karate.
Luckily, after two years time, they found the Garrett Morgan Academy, a karate studio in Passaic where Devin spent the rest of his karate career practicing.
However, returning to karate did not feel the same as it did two years ago. Devin had lost interest in continuing the practice and did not want to go to the studio at all.
It was a very unlikely inspiration that kept Devin returning to the studio: a girl. At the age of 11, Devin had his eyes on a girl who inspired him to not only continue karate, but to become better. This girl inspired him to become more dedicated to the sport and helped him realize his love for karate.
In 2008, Devin won his first award as a purple belt. It was a third place award, but it meant the world to Devin, who had worked hard for several years and was starting to believe he would never win anything.
"That was probably the happiest moment of my life," Devin said.
This third place award was Devin's first step on his journey to be an East Coast National Champion.
Devin's first of many first place trophies came about five years later in February 2013 in Niagara Falls. He still keeps the ticket stating his first place victory in the back of his phone case. Since then, Devin has won first place in every tournament.
The day after Christmas, Devin and his family headed to Charleston, S.C. for the weekend to compete in the Super Grands World Games XXIV. Devin came out of this weekend with the Junior World Champion of Japanese/Okinawan forms title.
Devin also qualified for the Grand Championship round, but was unable to go because his parents could not pay the cost out of pocket.
"Since money is tight nowadays and I couldn't compete for overall, I don't feel discouraged though because it was a wonderful experience," Devin said. "I'm a little upset that I couldn't compete, but I did what I came here to do."
Devin hopes to use his talent, success and experience to start a Karate Club at Ramapo to teach students self-defense techniques.
Devin said that he is "more willing to help someone in need even if he is a friend of the person or not."