I was rummaging in some boxes a few nights ago and stumbled across this photo of Billy Blanks and me. It was taken on 7/29/91, in the conference room where I worked at the time. He had come by to promote the release of his new movie King of the Kickboxers.
Please feel free to make jokes about my ridiculous mustache and little round hobbit belly (both of which I’m proud to say I have long since gotten rid of). You can also make fun of Billy and his Tae Bo workout system if you like, but I feel sure that meeting him would dispel any lack of respect.
Shaking hands with Billy Blanks is like shaking hands with the bumper of a truck.
Let’s not forget that Billy was a 7th Dan Black Belt in Taekwondo at the time (8th Dan nowadays), and that he has earned black belts in five other martial arts styles. He is a seven-time world karate champion who has won 36 gold medals in international competition. Oh yeah, and he was the 1984 Massachusetts Golden Gloves Champion and the Tri-State Golden Gloves Champion of Champions.
Like all martial arts masters I have met, he has a powerful presence. In contrast to his popular, high-energy image, I found him to be quiet, thoughtful, and soft spoken. Although his achievements inside and outside the martial arts far exceeded mine, he was inquisitive about my martial arts training and very respectful of the work I was doing at the time, teaching martial arts to inner city kids.
Ah, the memories.