Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Discipline Paying Off For Stephen Rueber

Stephen Rueber

Popularity in mixed martial arts has grown in popularity around the world. The growth of organizations like the Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, has led to other avenues of the mixed martial arts family seeing increases in interest as well. 

One South Dakota athlete has spent the past two decades becoming one of the more decorated taekwondo participants in the nation. 

Stephen Rueber of Canton may seem like your everyday real estate agent on the surface, but underneath his friendly smile, he’s a black belt in taekwondo. To Rueber, it’s more than just a hobby. He’s a five-time qualifier of the American Taekwondo Association World event, with multiple state, district, and national titles to go along with it. 

Rueber started participating in taekwondo when he was a teenager. 

“I was just infatuated with martial arts. Anytime I had a chance to watch a Bruce Lee movie, or anything like that it was always a great treat for me," said Rueber. "I jokingly say that Bruce Lee was one of my first teachers, because I would emulate everything he was doing in his movies, and you know, just try to recreate that myself.”

Rueber recently competed at the ATA Worlds event in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

While it was his fifth time qualifying, it was his third time as an attendee. 

Rueber said competing at Worlds is an experience like no other, and he’s blessed to have been able to attend it this year. 

“As soon as you walk into the arena, and this is an emotion that I’ll never forget, there’s an electricity in the air. You can feel the adrenaline pulsing through. I mean, these guys are razor sharp – nothing but the best, the elite," Rueber explained. "So going out there, yeah it was a little intimidating, but also exciting. I know that my homework was done and I was ready to show my stuff out there.”

In 2017, Rueber received two gold medals at the Worlds Championship Expo and a second place finish in the Tournament of Champions event, also at Worlds. This year, he fell short of the finals and the podium. But it’s something 

Rueber said it is both humbling and honorable. He plans to work hard again, to work towards next year’s ATA Worlds event.