Joe Lewis-Style™ “Kickboxing”
How it all began: Joe Lewis left the Shorin-ryu Karate system in the fall of 1967 when he was fed up with Karate politics. Bruce Lee offered a new way. Although he had just opened a new Karate school with Bob Wall, Joe decided to sell his interest in the school to Chuck Norris and follow the model that Bruce Lee had introduced teaching all private lessons to wealthy clients who could afford to pay for the equivalent of two months of group lessons in return for a single one hour private lesson. Today we would call Joe a self-defense personal trainer. Bruce Lee closed his JKD clubs in January 1970. That same month, Joe Lewis-Style fighting became a reality. According to the already noted Sports Illustrated article, Joe had recruited Greg Baines to be his opponent in what Joe expected to be called the Joe Lewis-Style Self-Defense method. Joe planned to use the publicity to attract self-defense clients who would want to learn the Bruce Lee-Joe Lewis-Style™ of full contact fighting for the street.
To get ready for the first ever Joe Lewis-Style™ fight. Full-contact martial arts style street-fighting with boxing gloves had never been tried in a public event before 1970. Joe purchased two pairs of boxing gloves, one for him and a pair to be worn by his opponent. At ringside that night, January 1970, the ring commentator, who had seen other kickboxing events in the same arena, saw that both fighters were wearing boxing gloves and immediately began to identify the fighters as “kickboxers” and Joe’s new full-contact fighting sport as “kickboxing.” While Joe had intended to use the event to promote Joe Lewis-Style™ self-defense, the term “kickboxing” stuck and for the rest of his career the Joe Lewis-Style™ became known as American Kickboxing. In 1970 and 1971 Joe defended his “kickboxing” title 10 times with 10 wins by the KO. No opponent made it past the second round. At the time Joe Lewis was the most dominant fighter in his field and was the only martial arts competitor to be featured in Sports Illustrated. The Joe Lewis-Style™ during the Bruce Lee era may have been called “kickboxing” but it was a lot more!