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, age 60, the retired World Heavyweight Karate Champion from Wilmington, North Carolina, is one of them.
Dubbed the "Muhammed Ali of his sport," Mr. Lewis is to Karate what Arnold Schwarzeneger is to body building. In a career that spanned 17 years, he won in his era more titles, set more records, and instituted more innovations than anyone else in the history of Sport Karate.
Mr. Lewis began his training in Okinawa studying with three instructors: Eizo Shimabuku, Kinjo Chinsaku and Seiyu Oyata, and he also studied with the late, great Bruce Lee. He received his Black Belt in Shorin Ryu and studied several different styles. He never believed in "style", as to him they were all the same... "punching and kicking." Mr. Lewis was a member of the first combat unit in Vietnam, 8th Marine Brigade, 1965, and one of the first Americans to teach Hand to Hand Combat in Vietnam working with Division Recon.
Mr. Lewis has been inducted into 13 various Halls of Fame, including 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." Mr. Lewis is best known for being World Champion in two separate sports, Karate and Kickboxing, plus being the founding father of Kickboxing in the Western Hemisphere.
Mr. Lewis began studying for an acting career in 1970. He starred in four 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.
Since 1984, Mr. Lewis has turned his talents and energies to a professional teaching career. Each year, he conducts more seminars, 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.
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.