Karate Legend Joe Lewis Died

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: karate
1 Sep 2012


I received a call from Dave Hays (8th Dan – AKKA) that Joe Lewis died on Friday, August 31, 2012. He was battling brain cancer I believe. This has been the year for passings as his friend Richard “Dick” Willett passed in May. Dick was my instructor and always had the highest praise for Joe’s fighting ability. First I’ll put some links about Joe’s history and then share some personal experiences.



The last time I saw Joe was at Dick Willett’s 40 anniversary event. I asked Joe about his movies and he mentioned that James Coburn helped him get work as I recall. One great thing about taking karate from Tracy’s or AKKA was that Joe used to have seminars to teach us how to use his angular attacks and initial movement. Those techniques are what helped Tracys/AKKA produce some of the great fighters.


We will all miss Joe Lewis as a fighter, friend and one of the martial arts greats! As Joe lived his life and would say Semer Fi.

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5 Responses to “Karate Legend Joe Lewis Died”

  1. Dr. J Says:

    Sorry to hear about this, John! Joe seemed to be indestructible to me! I remember seeing his classic fight with Bill Wallace in Chicago. I knew Bill from my Indiana Tracy days since he was from Muncie. Joe lost that fight, but if they had to fight out back in the alley behind the arena, I think even Bill would have felt that Joe would have won that battle.

    The last time I felt like this was when I heard that Jay T Will had died so young. I trained with him in Columbus when I was at Ohio State.

    Rest in peace, brothers.
    Dr. J recently posted..Is Fat the New Gay?My Profile

  2. Zara Says:

    This is most unfortunate: my condolances to everyone who knew him.

  3. Matt Klein Says:

    As this video will attest, for Joe Lewis it was about the people first and foremost. The great man will be missed. He made a huge impact in the martial arts.
    Matt Klein recently posted..Safety Awareness and Self Defence for MomsMy Profile

  4. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Dr. J – Yeah Bill and Joe had some great fights. I’m Sorry to see yet another great die.

    Thanks Zara

    Matt – good video find. Joe was always pushing the envelope.

  5. Neal Martin Says:

    An inspirational man and a martial arts legend.