After seven years as a professional kickboxer and more than 100 fights, Evans resident Stevie Dement knew his career was winding down.
The 41-year-old pro went out with a flourish.
Dement earned a bronze medal at the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations World Championships in Dublin last month. On a team jointly representing the United States and Puerto Rico, Dement said he was the oldest fighter at the four-day event and the only medalist from his team in the full contact division.
The third place finish in the 189.2-pound weight class, which saw Dement knock off national champions from Great Britain and Ireland, came after a semifinals loss to eventual silver medalist Kalmenov Yerseit from Kazakhstan.
The win against Ireland’s Richard Kiely avenged Dement’s loss to an Irish national champion at a competition in Hungary in 2005. But Dement finished one round shy of the title match after losing in the semifinals to Yerseit despite opening the fight with a first-round lead.
“He was intimidating,” Dement said. “I was hitting him, and I didn’t know if he was grimacing or smiling.”
The loss came by decision, but Dement managed to get in his blows.
“As we were getting the medals, I went up to the guy from Kazakhstan – and these are guys that look like cavemen – and said, ‘Hey, we had a great fight,’ ” Dement said. “He looked at me and said in a big, thick accent, ‘Not so much for me.’ ”
Though Dement said he was offered a spot on the U.S. team for the 2012 Pan-American Championships in Brazil, he has decided to end his pro fighting career with the bronze medal in Ireland.
“That was probably it,” he said. “I love it. All I’ve ever wanted to be was a fighter, and now at No. 3 in the world, I’ve kind of done it.”
Dement, who trains out of Greubel’s Mixed Martial Arts in Augusta, said he’ll help train and coach younger fighters.
“Augusta, Ga., is a hotbed for fighters, and maybe not everybody knows that,” he said. “So I’ll help them and kind of live vicariously through them now.”