By Jonty Ralphsmith
Pakenham father-son duo Kris and Dylan Boler won gold at the Jiu Jitsu Pan-Pacific Championships in Melbourne last month.
35-year-old Kris, competing in blue belt in the Masters One Division for over-30s, was forced to do it the hard way, winning three matches en route to the title.
His first opponent was one Boler had recently lost to, while his second and third both entered fresh due to a quirk in the draw.
Seven-year-old Dylan was a class above his opponents in the 30.2 kilograms grey belt, winning his final via submission thanks to a rear-naked choke.
It’s the first time the Gracie Elite pair have taken out gold at the same event, but both have tasted individual success along the journey.
Kris’s follows golds at the Australian Jiu Jitsu Championship in August, and the Victorian Jiu Jitsu State Championship in 2021 and 2022.
The family man and former Berwick footballer got into Jiu Jitsu in January 2020 to stay fit.
Jiu Jitsu’s literal translation in Japanese is gentle art, with that detail enabling a greater volume of sparring and ensuring it’s a sport everyone can try.
“Having three kids, I needed to do something to stay healthy and it’s the fittest I’ve ever felt,” Kris said.
“I didn’t want to turn into that fat dad that was drinking, so I started training at my gym and really loved it, so from there my son followed suit.”
Dylan was introduced to the sport in 2021.
Since then, he has collected gold at Oceania Kids Championships (2023) and at the Australian National Championships in 2022 and silver at the Victorian State Championships in 2023.
A speech Dylan gave at school confirms the impact that Jiu Jitsu has had on him.
“My coach Jhunior came to Australia from Brazil with nothing and couldn’t speak English,” the speech began.
“He has built a gym for Jiu Jitsu with 150 students.
“He teaches me discipline, respect and how to work hard to achieve my goals.
“I would like to be a black belt just like coach because then I could do lots of fighting overseas.
“I love training Jiu Jitsu.”
Both Kris and Dylan are at the gym five times per week training, with Dylan’s early start and zest giving him a strong platform to pursue it if he chooses.
“Children get a lot of discipline and learn a lot of respect along the way,” Kris said.
“Dylan just needs to keep his head down and bum up.
“I want him to see me do it and realise it’s not scary, you just have to get out there and give it a go and train hard.
“It’s been the best thing for him and me.
“It’s very good cardiovascular fitness and excellent for your mental health with the peace of mind it brings.”