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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Three fighters, one heart
They share a love of karate, and will soon head to separate tournaments in Asia to show their stuff.
By Mike Camunas, Times Correspondent
Published March 7, 2008
Shawn Roof, 17, left, Alexis Campisi, 15, center, and Tony Previte, 22, right, will compete with the AAU/USA karate team.
[Stephen J. Coddington | Times]
NEW PORT RICHEY
The three standout students at Ingram's Karate Center share many similarities.
Each is unassuming with brown hair and brown eyes, attends or graduated from Mitchell High School, has a second-degree black belt in isshinryu and started training after the age of 10.
But the most striking commonality Alexis Campisi, Shawn Roof and Tony Previte have is their dominating performance at the national championships in Winston-Salem, N.C., and that they are headed to Asia to display their talents for team USA.
"We're together so much that a lot of people think we're siblings," Roof said. "It's kind of funny because we all teach karate classes, are different ages and live near each other."
While all three started training much later than many of their students, their fighting ability has earned the respect of their instructor.
"We got to a point where I knew they were getting close, so I kicked their butts one last time," Sherri Angwin said. "I roughed them up one last time and then haven't fought them since. I wanted them to remember me from that last fight."
At the Amateur Athletic Union championships over the summer, Ingram's had unrivaled success. The school sent 32 athletes and won 57 medals, including 18 gold.
Campisi, 15, won the gold medal in black belt World Karate Federation fighting division to earn a place on the national team. She also won two silver and a bronze medal at the tournament.
Roof, 17, placed second in the 15- to 17-year-old heavyweight division.
Both athletes are heading to Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, March 30 to April 1 to compete in two separate tournaments.
While in Japan, they will be in three sparring events and, based on their performance, might be part of team competitions.
"It's really an honor to be invited to a tournament where the best athletes in the world are going to be," Campisi said. "But I'm looking forward to seeing a new culture and a different way of life."
Previte, 22, qualified for the adult national team and will compete in Bangkok, Thailand, April 10-20 after finishing third in WKF fighting among competitors ages 19 to 34.
The group needs to raise about $12,000 for the trip, which will mark the first time any of the students has left the United States.
As part of their fundraising efforts, Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, will be washing cars with the competitors Sunday at the 7-Eleven at State Road 54 and Little Road.
After qualifying for the tournament, Previte said, their training has become even more intense. While being selected to the national team is a great honor, the three feel they have a good chance of proving themselves among the best in the world.
"Almost all of my free time is spent (at Ingram's) and after competing in North Carolina, it's become even more involved," Previte said. "With all of the work we've put in, I think we can come away pretty successful."