Nine months later, group continues to rebuild
As a member of the Waxhaw community, third generation martial artist Tony White has seen most things that life can throw at him.
That was until nine months ago, when tragedy struck White’s Universal Karate Studio.
On October 7 of last year, faulty wiring in the nearby In-and-Out convenient store, began a fire that set Leo’s Closet and White’s karate studio ablaze. After battling the blaze for more than four hours, fire crews reopened the section of N.C. 16 between Blythe Mill Boulevard and Howie Mine Road.
The damage by that time however was extensive. The fire had destroyed the karate studio and all of the equipment inside, leaving White and his students without a place to meet.
As a man of faith, White who is also the pastor of Chestnut Ridge church, refused to be defeated.
“The building may have burned,” said White. “But the students did not.”
White went on to commend the students of Universal Karate Studio for their perseverance, and also expressed his thanks to the Waxhaw community for their outpouring of support.
“I want to give a huge thank you, to the Museum of the Waxhaws and the American Legion here.” White said. “They have been a blessing, allowing us to continue to meet while we pursue a more permanent location.”
White stressed that Universal Karate Studio was not business oriented, but instead had a genuine desire to positively impact the community around them. “ Our goal is to enhance people’s quality of life.” White said.
While there has been a great show of support, the several time martial arts Hall-of-Famer noted that there was still a great need.
“The fire destroyed not only our building, but all of our equipment as well. Much of it still has to be replaced.” White said. “If you would like to reach out, please feel free to contact Universal Karate Studio at 704-843-0968.”
However, White’s demeanor as he spoke made one thing abundantly clear. It would take more than experiencing a trial by fire, to stop the spirit of community where his karate academy makes its home.