Maggie is among the first generation of women to own and operate a martial arts school, Master Maggie founded Taecole Tae Kwon Do and Fitness Inc. in 1996, and Taecole has been in operation continuously since then.
Taecole is now one of the most successful martial art schools in New York State. In addition to serving tens of thousands of individuals over the years, Taecole serves dozens of private and public schools in Nassau County, NY, as well as the Boy and Girl Scouts, Girls Inc, and many other non-profit organizations.
Maggie is a world-class martial artist and has won numerous gold medals for the USA. She has been teaching Martial Arts for over 35 years, is currently an 8th-degree black belt, and holds a seat as regional director for numerous martial arts organizations.
Master Maggie grew up in abject poverty and transformed the challenges of her childhood circumstances into fuel for her adulthood successes. She feels a solid drive to pass along lessons of empowerment to help women and children rise from similar life situations to achieve lives they thought they could only dream of.
Maggie is passionate about advocating for female athletes. Facing numerous hurdles as a female athlete throughout her career, she became determined to help facilitate changes for future athletes and lessen the limitations they might encounter.
As such, Messina founded the Female Fighters Matter Too movement (#femalefightersmattertoo), whose mission is to bring equality to all athletes. This movement has gained international attention in the industry and is bringing about changes worldwide.
Maggie was a project coordinator for many years for Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital in New York City. Year after year, she heads several toy, clothing, and food drives and personally delivers items to women with children in homeless shelters each year.
Maggie is an awe-inspiring speaker who casts a spell on her audience with her profound passion for advocating for women in sports. However, her captivating speeches go beyond the realm of athletics. Maggie fearlessly delves into the sensitive topics of child abuse, abusive relationships, addiction, suicide and the significance of these issues.
Maggie has received many awards and accolades throughout her career, including but not limited to:
- The Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award from President Joe Biden
- The New York State Community Service Award, in recognition and gratitude for her dedication on behalf of the children and youth in New York State.
- The Most Powerful Woman in Business for NYS (Schneps Media).
- New York Assembly Certificate of Merit for Female Fighters Matter Too (Founder and President).
- Martial Artist Legacy Award (AMAA).
- Special Congressional Recognition for her “outstanding and invaluable service to her community and everywhere she makes her mark”.
- Special Recognition by state Sen. Joseph P. Adabbo, Jr. for her “selflessness and tireless commitment to the State of New York and her loyalty and dedication to the betterment of the State of New York.
” What are the most significant challenges as a woman in your industry?
During her journey as a woman in martial arts during the 1980s, Maggie faced relentless hostility and exclusion. The men around constantly aimed to force women out through intentional verbal and occasionally physical abuse, a harsh reality that deeply impacted her decision-making process. Their actions left Maggie feeling inferior, vulnerable and shattered.
However, Maggie adamantly refused to surrender. She persevered, dedicating herself to training and fortifying her skills.
In the realm of competition, Maggie endured inappropriate comments and even unwarranted physical contact. Some may find it difficult to comprehend such experiences today in our more enlightened society.
Yet, for women of that era, we confronted these painful truths daily. When we dared to defend ourselves or assert our rights, we were branded as “crazy” or worse, as if being a woman automatically delegitimized our claims.
Maggie recalls instances when men would enter her school, arrogantly asserting that she needed them to teach on her behalf.
According to their misguided beliefs, Messina couldn’t attract students as a woman. They even went so far as to scoff at the idea of learning from a non-Korean. But those individuals were sorely mistaken. Today, they stand in awe of the person she has become and her achievements.
Never allow anyone to confine you within the boundaries of their preconceived notions. Every time Maggie stumbled, she summoned the strength to rise, refusing to let adversity define her path. And each time, Maggie emerged stronger than before, defying limitations.
What is the best advice you have received that has made an impact on your business?
Embrace diligent efforts while remaining steadfast to your principles. Refuse to let fear impede your progress. Eliminate toxic individuals from your journey. Stay true; stay you!
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