Kick boxer "Bazooka" Joe Valtellini has had a busier year than most fighters in 2013, and he's about to see more action this Saturday in Tokyo. The Canadian fighter has fought and won three times this year already and, if things go his way, will fight and win twice more Saturday night at the Glory World Series kickboxing event to earn their welterweight tournament title.
As hectic as his fight schedule has been, Valtellini's professional kick boxing career isn't even his only job. By day, the Toronto area fighter is a special education gym teacher.
Pulling this type of double duty comes natural to the son of Sicilian immigrants.
"I'm from an old-fashioned Italian family, " Valtellini says.
"My parents always taught me to work hard and always be working. So, doing both things just made sense to me."
Though Valtellini is a work horse and made sure to get a college degree and job after school, his particular career choice of teaching also speaks to a free spirit.
"It's a very important thing in my life to not let my job dictate the rest of my life," he explains.
"With teaching, I knew I'd have my summers off and be able to travel and fight around the world."
Though the lifestyle suits him now, Valtellini says he was initially unsure of whether or not teaching special education gym classes for school children was for him.
"Coming out of college, I got a job right away," he says.
"It is hard to get work as a teacher in Toronto so I was grateful but I still wasn't sure if it was the right job for me. I was used to working with high-level athletes. I didn't know how well I'd do with the kids and how well they'd respond to me."
Valtellini took the job, however, and is very glad he did. The work is rewarding and he learned that the kids and he weren't so different from each other after all.
"They are just regular kids and I really enjoy working with them," he says.
His school community enjoys following the fight career Toronto's toughest gym teacher, as well. Valtellini says that he has always tried to keep his athletic career under wraps to avoid drawing attention to himself, but as his star has risen, his co-workers have taken notice and shown their support.
"Fighting isn't always viewed in the best light so I never really made a point out of telling anyone at work about what I do," he says.
"But with fighting in Glory, everyone has started to find out and take notice. They are all really great and supportive."
Valtellini arrived in Tokyo this week to fight further from home than he ever has before. In the semi-finals, he has drawn American Raymond Daniels. Should Valtellini win, he'll briefly rest before taking on the winner of the other welterweight semi-final bout between Nieky Holzken and Karapet Karapetyan.
Valtellini is perhaps the tournament's hottest fighter, winning his all of his prior three fights of 2013 by TKO, but he knows this Saturday might be his biggest test. It's a test the teacher can't wait to take.
"This is an exciting match up for me," he says.
"I can't wait to show what I can do."