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Teenager from Winthrop Harbor earns black belt

Richard Neipen is congratulated by GrMaster 8th Degree black belt Jerry Cook after teen-ager passes his test became 1st Degree

Richard Neipen is congratulated by Grand Master and 8th Degree black belt Jerry Cook after the teen-ager passes his test and became a 1st Degree black belt in karate. | Special to Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 12, 2012 6:04AM

A 17-year-old from Winthrop Harbor recently earned his 1st Degree black belt in karate.

Richard Neiper, a junior at Zion-Benton High School, tested for two hours to earn the coveted honor of wearing a black belt.

To qualify, he had to do 100 pushups, 100 situps, break four boards, complete eight forms and spar 3-on-1.

Neiper started his martial-arts training at Gerry Cook’s Professional Martial Arts studio in Waukegan a dozen years ago.

He started with lessons for self-defense, and now has captured three national titles in Taekwondo. His next competition will be Sept. 30 in Madison, Wis.

The 6-foot, 160-pounder is, according to Cook, totally dedicated to the sport of martial arts.

“He loves the Art and he really likes a hard workout,” Cook said in a statement.

At Z-B High School, Neipen’s favorite subject is history. Cook said the student wants to pursue a career in the medical field.

Cook’s studio is located on Lewis Ave. Cook, himself, is an 8th Degree black belt.

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