I was exposed to Martial Arts as a kid by my father. Boxing was the art that my dad did in the Navy during World War 11. He continued to train as his daily exercise routine. In the early 1950’s, we lived in Louisville, blocks from the great Muhammad Ali, (then Cassius Clay). I loved boxing, and when I was in elementary school, I remember watching a local boxing program called “Tomorrows Champions.” I also remember watching a great national show called “The Friday Night Fights.”
In the early 1960’s we moved to Indiana. In the summer of 1963, I picked up on boxing myself as something to do and liked the confidence it gave me as I was going to high school. In 1968, my friend Donnie Grimes joined the first Karate club in this area and encouraged me to check it out. I was excited about what I saw, I joined right away and hardly missed a class. Bob Lomax was one of the owners of the club and was my instructor. Bob was a great teacher and a great man. He is very much responsible for my success today. I was there so much Bob asked me to be an assistant instructor in 1969. In the next couple of years, they had 3 locations, and Bob asked me to teach them too.
In 1971 I earned my 1st Degree Black Belt, and in 1972 I started my studio in New Albany, Indiana. I had immediate success and had thousands of students since. In 1974, I opened three more studios in different Indiana cities. I learned that you can’t be in four places all at once. Also in 1974 my high school friend, Terry Baird and I, hooked up with the great Glenn Keeney in Anderson Indiana. Glen was a National Lightweight Champion and has trained, and competed with greats such as Chuck Norris, Bill Wallace, Joe Lewis and Ross Scott. Glen has been an all-time great promoter of the Martial Arts.
In the mid-1970’s Kickboxing emerged as the next big thing. Kickboxing was more contact and was ideal for shows to the public. A world organization was formed for Kickboxing and became known as the Professional Karate Association, (PKA) and Glen was named the president. We were members and officials of the great group. This association was the root of Kickboxing on the world stage. This is the reason you have heard of Kickboxing today.
Glen taught me some great training routines and sparring techniques. I learned a lot from Glenn and was promoted several times by him. I am honored to call him my friend. After working with Glenn, I designed my own workout program which consisted of stretching with a gymnast, thousands of kicks and punches per day (with weights on my wrist and ankles), and 10 to 20 sparring rounds daily. With classes, this took all day long!
We also combined our programs with Boxing. In those days it was unusual for Boxers to share the same facility as Kickboxers, Karate, or Judo practitioners. I’m happy to say that I was able to bring these groups together. Our Boxing gym has held a host of national and world Boxing champions. We were the home to World Heavyweight Champions Jimmy Ellis and Greg Page. James Prichard and Arthur Weathers were our resident Cruiserweight champions. Countless other champions trained in our boxing gym for more than 40 years. However, we’ve had state, regional, national and world Kickboxing champions, in addition to Karate tournament winners.
In the 1970’s, 80’s, we hosted many Kickboxing and Boxing events, plus we held Karate tournaments, exhibitions, self-defense seminars, plus elementary and high school clubs. I was also a referee and judge for Boxing, Kickboxing, Toughman and Karate matches. Our goal was to take the Martial Arts to as many people as possible.
I joined the Martial Arts while it was very young in the U.S. and in 2007 received a “Pioneer” award from the Martial Arts Alliance Association. In 2008, I was also nominated and inducted into the Martial Arts Alliance Association Hall of Fame. Jim Thomas, a superstar martial artist heads up this world organization. Jim works constantly and tirelessly to further the Martial Arts in America and around the world. He has also been one of the all-time great promoters of the Martial Arts. I’m also honored to call him my friend.
In 2013, after 50 years of Martial Arts, I was promoted to 10th Degree Black Belt and honored with a “Lifetime Achievement” award by the Martial Arts Alliance Association. However, I must thank my countless students, instructors, and others that have made it all possible. It has been a wonderful journey, and I enjoy passing on my knowledge of over 50 years to my students.
We welcome you to our school!