SAN ANTONIO — Technically, there is an alter ego. Even so, Terencio Johnson and Tito "The Young God" are the same people. They talk the same, and you may even get the same sheepish smile revealing braces. If you fight against the 12-year-old in a Muay Thai match, you'll likely get a lot more Tito than Terencio.
"Seeing my dad and my mom train every day just got me inspired to do this," Terencio said.
He's the son of Charles and Daisy Johnson, and they own Kingdom Martial Arts Academy(KMA) on Grissom Road. Terencio's rise is sluggish and slightly rocketing at the same time.
His father became involved in MMA and fell into Muay Thai. In fact, the Johnsons became so serious about the sport they moved to Thailand to train.
"We quit our jobs, we sold our house, sold our cars, packed our kids up, and moved to Thailand for about four years," Johnson said.
Johnson and his wife became quick studies and champions in the sport. Daisy also taught at the school that Terencio and their daughter attended.
"I was bullied a lot," Terencio said.
The family believes the other students did not care for Americans. Terencio said as many as ten kids at a time would bully him. According to Daisy, the bullies were a concern.
"The kids used to take his shoes," Daisy said. "Mommy, they took my shoes, and they threw them over the fence."
But his mother said she never thought her son did not have a fighter inside. He'd trained in Muay Thai but never took it seriously.
When the Johnsons returned to the United States, they opened KMA, but the pandemic hit.
Terencio and the family doubled down on their training. The sixth-grader, who gets homeschooled, started showing proficiency.
"He's gifted," Johnson said. "I will say that he's like a like prodigy."
The 36-year-old is more than a doting daddy and live-in coach. He may be right.
Johnson gave his son the fighting name Tito 'The Young God.' And 'The Young God' brought focus and ferocity to those competing at his age level.
"I was nervous," he said.
The jitters did not stop him from winning his first match. Then, Terencio won the second fight and the third. By August, he had amassed a 14-0 record.
"You keep going. A lot of work, and you put your skills to the test," Terencio said.
The young fighter got an invitation to represent San Antonio on the USA team at the WBC's inaugural Muay Thai Youth Games. He would face off against the best in the world---meaning Terencio was now world-class.
"Thailand, Brazil, the UK, Canada -- everybody's fighting," Johnson said. "And whoever wins, they're ranked number one in the world."
The family went to Canada in mid-August. The trip was beyond hectic Terencio made it there to fight, and he won his first match. Then, 'The Young God' suffered his first loss on the second day of competition.
"I feel like I won that match," Terencio said. "But, you know, everyone else thought otherwise."
The fighter said it hurt, but he held composure for his teammates. His parents also reminded him about the conduct and the example he learned.
The San Antonio fighter got one more shot, and he lost again. But Terencio came back home with a priceless experience.
"This isn't the last time that I'll be there," Terencio said.
His father and coach made adjustments to their son's training. Terencio's dream didn't die in Canada. It gained fire.
"I want to be the greatest Muay Thai fighter to ever live," Terencio said.