Josh Horton enters highest division of the World Juggling Federation

First-year Josh Horton doesn’t typically stick around campus on the weekends, but he doesn’t go home to Malibu, Calif., either. He performs in juggling festivals nearly every weekend in cities including Philadelphia, New York City and St. Louis.

Horton has earned silver and bronze medals in two World Juggling Federation championship competitions. With little over two years of serious juggling, Horton competes against jugglers with more than 10 years of experience. Juggling balls, rings and clubs, he competed in the intermediate division of the championships in Hartford, Conn., and Las Vegas, Nev.

This December, Horton will move up to the highest division of the WJF.

“I will be competing against my trainer,” Horton said of the competition to be held at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. At the age of 18, Horton will be the youngest competitor in the advanced division.

“I would like to do it professionally,” said Horton, who is majoring in missions with a minor in social work, while also working on his comedy act and stage presence. “The most successful jugglers, financially, are mainly comedians who juggle,” he said.

Horton’s trainer is Vova Galchenko, a 20-year-old juggler from Russia. One of the world’s top jugglers, Galchenko lives only 20 minutes from Horton’s home in California. After learning about WJF, Horton got in contact with Galchenko.

“I just sent him an email and asked if I could have lessons,” Horton said. “I’m the only person he’s ever taught.”

Horton first learned to juggle in elementary school during an after-school program. The program organized a circus and held a performance once a year. He participated from second to eighth grade. “It sparked my interest,” Horton said, but he did not take juggling seriously until his sophomore year of high school. He has made the most progress in the last two-and-a-half years, he said, by practicing for three hours every day.

Horton has over a dozen videos of his juggling on YouTube, with almost 300 subscribers. Horton said, “I still think it’s weird when I go to competitions and little kids want my autograph.”

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