The 90’s were a great decade and most of you probably remember Billy Blanks and Tae Bo.
For those that don’t remember Billy Blanks, he was a martial artist that developed a training system called Tae Bo. Some people might not think he was legit because Tae Bo cardio workouts became all the rage in the 90’s. It was a mixture of Taekwondo and Boxing. Despite what you may think, Billy was a legitimate martial artist. He competed in Karate, Taekwondo, and Boxing.
A lot of people hated Billy because he figured out how to market his Tae Bo training system. It became popular early on with celebrities and then he released a series of videos. They were extremely successful and it is estimated that Billy made upwards of 90 million dollars from his Tae Bo workout videos. The videos were never intended to be used as any form of martial art. Billy took what he knew and used it to come up with a great cardio workout for clients.
Despite what anyone might say about Billy Blanks, he came from a legitimate martial arts background. He was then able to leverage that to become a successful businessman. You have to respect the man for that.
Billy was a respected martial artist before Tae Bo
At the 1981 World Games Billy won a bronze medal in Karate. That shouldn’t come as a surprise because he has been studying martial arts such as Karate and Taekwondo since he was 11. Blanks has been a fighter his entire life. He was born with an anomaly in his hip joints that impaired his movement. Despite people thinking he would not accomplish much, he was able to do so because of martial arts.
Anyone who is a martial artist understands that competition is a big part of it. It is the ultimate test of your training and Billy was a great competitor. In the fight came, however, everyone stumbles. In 1981 Billy Blanks competed against Larry Kelley in a Karate fight. The fight was a great display of martial arts, but as it was coming to a close the unthinkable happened. Blanks was knocked out cold with the well-placed kick.
Blanks was highly touted coming into the fight. Kelley was good, but no one expected him to take out Blanks who was very accomplished and had competed in international tournaments and placed in them. This is the fight game an anything can happen.
What you have to understand about this fight is that it was point Karate. The fighters are not trying to knock each other out, Kelley was just too quick on his kick for Blanks. It becomes very evident that the commentators are not used to knockouts. They don’t seem to really want to address it and try to change the subject. One thing that is clear is that despite Kelley being well respected, he wasn’t expected to win. After Billy recovered a point was given to Kelley and that also gave him the win.
Tae Bo was created strictly for cardio, not to be used as self-defense
It happens, losing is part of any competitive sport. Billy went on to become a huge success not just in martial arts but in business. Kelley continued to practice martial arts, but he didn’t achieve the fame Billy had. He passed away in 2017 after being involved in a traffic accident.
Watch the video of their fight below:
It is a great display of Karate and it is a great kick that Kelley delivers when he knocks out Billy.