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Joe Lewis

Dubbed the “Muhammad Ali” of sport karate, Joe Lewis won more titles in his 17-year fighting career than any other tournament fighter.

Lewis was born on March 7, 1944, in North Carolina. He eventually joined the Marines and was stationed in Okinawa. It was while he was there that 18-year-old Lewis began studying shorin-ryu karate under Eizo Shimabukuro, Seiyu Oyata, Chinsaku Kinjo and John Korab. (Shimabukuro was also a student of Miyagi Chojun.) Lewis received his black belt in seven months, and 15 months later, he became the sport karate U.S. Nationals grand champion.

As a fighter, Lewis amassed other important firsts—first World Professional Karate Championships titleholder, first U.S. heavyweight kickboxing champion, and in 1974, the first Professional Karate Association heavyweight full-contact karate champion.

The Black Belt Hall of Fame inducted Joe Lewis as the 1974 Karate Player of the Year. Yet to Lewis, his greatest accolade was being chosen in 1983 by his peers as the “Greatest Karate Fighter of All Time.”

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  1. Joe Lewis’ Top 10 Martial Arts for Self-Defense

    Joe Lewis’ Top 10 Martial Arts for Self-Defense

    Joe Lewis was an expert in analysis of fighting principles who had the chops to back up his ideas. When he talked, people listened. Did your style make his Top 10 List?
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  2. Joe Lewis: The Full-Contact Fighting Legend Talks Training (Part 2)

    Joe Lewis: The Full-Contact Fighting Legend Talks Training (Part 2)

    Black Belt Hall of Famer Joe Lewis concludes his analysis of the physical and mental attributes that play a role in becoming a champion in the full-contact ring.
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  3. Joe Lewis: The Full-Contact Fighting Legend Talks Training (Part 1)

    Joe Lewis: The Full-Contact Fighting Legend Talks Training (Part 1)

    The martial artist who was voted the best fighter of all time by Karate Illustrated magazine offers advice for those who want to improve their ability to dominate in the ring.
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  4. Wing Chun Techniques: The Secret Weapon Against Leg Attacks

    Wing Chun Techniques: The Secret Weapon Against Leg Attacks

    In 1966, karate legend Joe Lewis rocketed to stardom by winning Jhoon Rhee’s U.S. Nationals in Washington, D.C. Incredibly, it was his first tournament, and he won every single point with only one technique — the side kick.

    For six years, Chuck Norris ruled the karate world with his spinning kicks.
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  5. Joe Lewis’ Okinawan Karate Roots

    Joe Lewis’ Okinawan Karate Roots

    For 99 percent of the martial artists out there, Joe Lewis needs no introduction. But for the 1 percent who may be new to the arts, here goes. He’s particularly famous for three accomplishments: He earned a black belt in three styles in less than one year, he practically created
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