Seth Swinehart Rockford’s latest kickboxing king

Local Sports

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Rockford has a rich history of great kick boxers going back to the late ’80s and early ’90s with “Bad Brad” Hefton and “Mean Mik”e LaBree. Rockford’s newest kickboxing bad boy is Seth Swinehart.

you might remember Swinehart as a former football player at East High School. That was more than a decade ago.  Now this soon-to-be 28-year old is all about kickboxing.

“I used to work at Midwest Seamless Gutters, and they had a kickboxing gym there, and I just kind of fell into it and fell in love with it, and then I started coming here and they got me even more involved.”

“Here” is the Northern Illinois Combat Club and Fitness on North Second Street in Machesney Park.

I shot one of Swinehart’s early fights three years ago at Giovannis. He was much thinner then and less refined. He’s lighter now, but thicker, packed with solid muscle from training.

“Back when I started I was more of like a high school bar fighter,” said Swinehart. “I just kind of went in and slugged it out with people, not really having a game plan.”

After working with local kickboxing gurus like Shayne Adams, Todd Green, Chand Tubio and others Swinehart has evolved into a WAKO…World Association of Kickboxing Organizations, National Champion at 189 pounds. He won the Title in Nashville two months ago. That put him on the WAKO Team USA which will compete at the World Championships in Italy in October.

Swinehart will get a tune-up fight June 26 again in Nashville. After the World Championships he’ll compete in the Pan Am games. At the moment Swinehart’s fight record is 15-2 overall, 11-1 in kickboxing.

Swinehart admits he’s not as naturally talented as a lot of guys, but he says he’s hungrier than other guys. He approaches kickboxing from a different viewpoint.

“I don’t really look at it as a sport. I look at it as a living in a way.  Any fight could be your last fight, and you’ve got to take it a little more serious than a game. It’s not a game. This is it man.”

Kickboxing is now an Olympic sport, so Swinehart hopes to make it to the Olympics…not this summer, but in three years. By then he’ll be 31 and he says kickboxers generally hit their prime around age 32.

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