Friday, August 31, 2012


When I started martial arts training, I read Black Belt. Two of the main karate fighters of the day featured were Chuck Norris and Joe Lewis. In those no-contact days, the winners of each weight division faced off at the end for the grand championship. Norris was a middleweight, Lewis, a heavyweight, and more often than not, Chuck won. He was faster and could circle. Lewis, who had a major sidekick, was straight in and out, and if you didn't get out of his way, he was strong enough to blow right through your block.

Lewis learned the sidekick he used from Gordon Doversola at Okinawa-te.

When I got to L.A. in 1967, Lewis didn't train regularly with Doversola, but he would drop by now and then. He was a big, muscular guy, one of only a few serious karate guys who trained with weights.

Time passed, worlds moved ...

Lewis died today, a brain tumor. He was 68.

As I was reading about this, I came across a reference to Shihan Doversola. It has been a few years since I checked up on him, and the reference took me by surprise: Seems that he had a stroke almost two years ago, was in a coma for much of a year, and died in April, 2011.

Well, shit. 

Not that I could have done anything about it, but I feel remiss in not noticing his passing. 
He was 77.


William Adams said...

Yeah, I had to place the obituary page for the my old hometown newspaper as one of my ``Top Sites'' in Safari so that I can catch the odd funeral I feel obliged to attend.

Mark said...

I didn't know about Joe Lewis till I just saw this...
He was working right up to the end, attending training seminars.

I hate to speculate whether it had anything to do with it, but a full-contact career has its downsides.

I took a class from him once, good man.

Anonymous said...

joe learned in okinawa from john korab and an okinawan master. he also trained with ruce lee. i knw he and chuck both on some of thier matches against each other. not sure who won the most. but... joe has been named th greatest fighter of all time. beyond thier competition they were great friends. chuck sent a beutiful arrangement to joe's funeral and joe also spoke highly of him. i will miss him always!

Steve Perry said...

If you google joe lewis okinawa te, the first picture that comes up is Lewis getting a trophy from Bruce Lee. Lewis is wearing the black gi that pretty much nobody but the Okinawa-te guys wore back then -- the patch is a hand wrapped in snakes, I still have one of those patches around somewhere.

Back in the point-karate days, Lewis had that sidekick and a back fist and that was all he needed most of the time.

He beat Norris now and then, but Chuck won most of the matches.