Christopher E. Baten began training in martial arts at the age of 4. His father, a Washington, D.C. Golden Gloves boxing champion, was his main influence. At the age of 16, he became the South Carolina State Adult Taekwondo Champion. In 2003, he won the gold medal in the United States National Taekwondo Championship. He held the South Carolina state title until he left the sport in 2004.
A year later, in 2005, Baten began competing in kickboxing at a professional level. He has competed in various countries for many different organizations including the Chuck Norris World Combat League (WCL). He is currently undefeated in professional kickboxing.
However, in 2006 he began competing in the sport that intrigues him more so than any other discipline, professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). “MMA is still at its infancy and the sport is changing everyday. It is an honor to be a part of something so early in its development. The sport is like no other.”
Baten, 29, appreciates that MMA allows for fighters from various backgrounds to complete against one another. “How often do a football player and baseball player compete? Never.” He feels that this is what makes MMA so exciting. “You get to see so much variation in each fighter. Many people consider MMA brutal. I highly disagree. It is true that we don't wear pads and that there is usually some bleeding. However the fighters are professionals, they know and except the risk of the sport.”
Baten currently trains under Rob Kahn at Gracie Tampa. Rob Kahn is a former Golden Gloves boxer and is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under world renowned Royce Gracie. Baten has competed for many national and world MMA organizations, including the International Fight League (IFL). He currently has 17 professional MMA fights, with 11 wins and 6 losses.
Deputy Baten’s background: His father was in the military, so the family moved around a bit. He grew up in Riverside, CA on March Air Force Base. Next, he moved to Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. There he attended the University of South Carolina. While in college he met his wife, who is a Tampa native. When his wife graduated college she moved back to Tampa and he followed.
Becoming a deputy was always his dream. “Some kids wanted to be super heroes or sports stars; I wanted to be a cop,” Baten says. He has been with the HCSO since 2006 and he says that he feels fortunate to have found an agency that makes the duty of law enforcement fun, exciting and rewarding. “This agency offers deputies so many opportunities to do what they love. I can not think of any other law enforcement agency that provides such a variety of positions.”
He appreciates how this agency is committed to constantly improving the quality of its law enforcement personnel. “They provide the state of the art equipment to their deputies. There are small things that some take for granted, such as being provided with level 3 ballistics vest. Most agencies give their people level 2. Also this agency provides some of the best training in the country.”
Baten feels that HCSO deputies are taught skills and techniques that put them equal to and above some federal law enforcement agencies. He believes that this agency is one of the best because of its leadership. “Our agency has a Sheriff that leads by example. This is one of the reasons why I love this agency. Our Sheriff has been where we are. Our Sheriff continues to be an example to all deputies for physical fitness. In this agency deputies will never be asked to do something that our Sheriff has not already done.”