Lewis was an American kickboxer, point karate fighter and actor. As a fighter he gained fame for his matches in the 1960s and 1970s. This fighter was twice voted as the greatest fighter in karate history, and he attained the titles of “United States Heavyweight Kickboxing Champion,” “World Heavyweight Karate Champion,” and “United States National Black Belt Kata Champion.”
Joe Lewis was born in Knightdale, North Carolina. He later joined the United States Marine Corps in 1962. While serving in the U.S. Marine Corps Lewis studied Shorin-Ryu Karate with Eizo Shimabukuro, John Korab, Chinsaku Kinjo and Seiyu Oyata in Okinawa. Martial artist Lewis earned his black belt in only seven months, and he was one of the first Marines stationed in Vietnam. While there he met boxer Rocky Marciano. After the war, Lewis began a winning tournament career. From 1967 to 1968, he studied privately with the influential martial artist and Jeet Kune Do founder Bruce Lee. Hong Kong cinema historian Bey Logan said Lewis was the original pick of Bruce Lee for the villain, Colt, in Way of the Dragon (1972). Chuck Norris ended up with the role instead.
In July 2011, Joe Lewis was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Doctors told him that if he did nothing, he would have six to eight weeks to live. On July 18th that same year, surgeons removed the tumor. “He had the best doctors, and they think they did a good job of getting it all out.” – Dennis Nackord, Lewis’ senior black belt
Lewis died over a year later, on August 31, 2012. Condolences go out to Joe Lewis’ family, friends and fans.