MERIDEN — Lorenzo Pragano had the experience of a lifetime this summer.
The 9-year-old from Meriden spent more than three weeks honing his craft of taekwondo in South Korea.
Pragano took the trip with his mother Renata. He placed third in the black belt division at the KimunYong Cup International Open in Seoul, then spent the rest of his trip going to different schools in the country to work with different taekwondo masters.
“He would train eight to 10 hours a day and every few days he would go to a different city. It was a great experience for him,” Pragano’s father Anthony said.
Prior to the trip, Pragano, a blue belt, nabbed silver in the ATU National Taekwondo Championships in North Carolina.and placed first in the AAU National Championships in Fort Lauderdale.
Pragano went 5-0 en route to gold in the Sunshine State. The performance qualified him for the Junior Olympics, but he was unable to participate in that competition because he was in South Korea.
Pragano is a student at Israel Putnam School. He trains in Southington at Olympic Taekwondo Academy on Queen Street. His mentor there is Master Ilseong Oh.
“He’s improved tenfold this year,” Anthony Pragano said. “Right now he’s still training with Master Oh, but a few other masters have also helped as well.”
Those include Master Fabio Takahashi of Xcel Taekwondo in Hanover, Mass. and Master Marina Aguero and her son Melvy at Aguero Martial Arts/ CTA Elite Competition Team in Stamford.
“Everyone behind him is pushing him and he just loves it,” Anthony Pragano said. “It’s became a lifestyle for him and the other coaches that see him, too.”
The younger Pragano has upcoming competitions lined up in Massachusetts, New York, Georgia, Florida and Texas. He has a sponsor in Banana Brazil Grill Steak House Buffet and is seeking more to offset travel costs.