August 31, 2012
By: Bobby Blakey
In 2011 Legendary Martial Arts fighter Joe Lewis had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor which he had removed, but lost his final match on August 31 passing away at the age of 68.
Born in 1944, Lewis joined the Marines in 1962 and began his martial arts training while stationed in Okinawa under numerous masters and earning his black belt in just seven months. After returning to the US he trained privately with Bruce Lee, even being considered for the role that eventually went to Chuck Norris in Way of the Dragon.
Lewis dominated the fight world through the 60’s and 70’s attaining titles of “United States Heavyweight Kickboxing Champion”, “World Heavyweight Karate Champion”, and “ United States National Black Belt Kata Champion”. During his time in the ring he faced off against some of the best fighters in the world including Chuck Norris, Allen Steen, Skipper Mullins, Bob Wall, J. Pat Burleson and many more. In 1983 Lewis was voted by promoters and fighters as the greatest fighter of all time ahead of both Chuck Norris and Bill Wallace.
In addition to his titles and too many legendary fights, he took a turn in several martial arts films starring alongside people like Christopher Lee, Donald Pleasence, and Robin Shou just to name a few. His last role is in the upcoming film Kill ‘em All due out in 2012.
Joe Lewis was more than just an actor or fighter, he was a martial artist. He did numerous appearances and seminars that no doubt touched martial artists around the world. He has left more marks in the minds and souls of those that respected and looked up to him than he ever did on opponents in the ring. His passing has left a void in the martial arts world that will not soon be filled, but his spirit and love of the martial arts will live on in those that loved and respected him.
Speaking from experience, if you ever had the joy and honor to meet Lewis you no doubt walked away a better person, martial artist, or both. Lower your heads and bow to a passing master who will live on forever in the minds and hearts of the warriors that follow him and will miss him always.
Born: 3/7/1944, Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.A.
Joe Lewis's western - himself:
Walker, Texas Ranger (TV) - 2001 [himself]