In his era as a heavyweight World
Champion fighter and martial artist, Joe Lewis has done it first and done it
best. Of the millions of people who have participated in the martial arts
since their inception in the United States in 1948, only a few have had a
measurable impact with the general public...and Joe Lewis, 57, the retired
World Heavyweight Karate Champion from Wilmington is one of them.
Dubbed the "Muhammed Ali of his sport," Lewis is to Karate
Schwarzeneger is to body building. In a career that spanned 17 years, he won more titles in his era , set more records and instituted more innovations than
anyone in the history of Sport Karate.
began his training in Okinawa studying with three instructors: Eizo Shimabuku,
Kinjo Chinsaku and Seiyu Oyata and he also studied with the late great
Lee. He received his Black Belt in Shorin Ryu and studied several different
styles. He never believed in "style" to him they were all the
same..."punching and kicking."
was a member of the first combat unit in Viet Nam, 8th Marine Brigade, 1965.
One of the first Americans to teach Hand to Hand Combat in Viet Nam working
with Division Recon.
Lewis has been inducted into 13 various Halls of Fame to include the Black
Belt Hall of Fame as "Fighter of the year" and "Instructor of
the year." His greatest accolade, however, came in 1983 when in a Karate
Illustrated survey of
America's top fighters, he was chosen by his peers as "The Greatest
Karate Fighter of All Time." Lewis is best known for being World
Champion in 2 separate sports, Karate and Kickboxing, plus being the founding
father of Kickboxing in the Western Hemisphere.
began studying for an acting career in 1970. He starred in 4 action-adventure
films, "Jaguar Lives," "Force Five," "Death
Cage" and "Mr.X." and appeared in several T.V. series and was
the guest on numerous talk shows, such as Joey Bishop, Johnny Carson, Dinah
Shore and the Merv Griffin Show.
1984, Lewis has turned his talents and energies to a professional teaching
career. Each year he conducts more
in more places throughout the world, than anyone in the business. In 1987,
for example, he taught 140 seminars in 80 cities in 8 countries, in addition
to making personal appearances at tournaments and other martial arts
functions and charity benefits.
Currently, Lewis' research has led to his producing over
one of a kind instructional video tapes.
He remains active, playing characters in film projects and writing for
several martial arts publications world wide. An article he wrote concerning
self-defense for older Americans appeared in the January 29, 1995, issue of
the world's largest magazine. A second article on choosing a martial arts
program for children appeared in Parade, June 30, 1996.
Recently, Lewis has won 2 North Carolina Governors' awards for his efforts in
crime prevention. He is the first legitimate world champion to be awarded the
10th degree Black Belt; symbolically, it was Lewis' "Ph.D." in
martial arts. Lewis is the only fighter who has won the U.S. national
championships 4 times, the internationals 3 times and one of only two men,
the other being Mike Stone, who has won all three. Lewis and Troy Dorsey are
the only two men to have won World Karate Championships and World Kickboxing
In 1985 American Karate
considered Joe Lewis "a Living Legend" and in 1986 Black Belt voted
him "Instructor of the Year." Joe Lewis is without a doubt the most
respected name in American Martial Arts.