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Categories: Interview, Martial Arts

11/10/10

Permalink 12:58:44 am, by bobcalhoun Email , 1679 words, 12594 views English (US)
Categories: News, Interview, Politics, Wrestling, Television

Mick Foley: Wrestling with Reasonableness

Mick Foley
“Countdown to Lockdown” and its most reasonable author, Mick Foley (Images courtesy of Grand Central Publishing).

Mick Foley is the last person that you’d expect to be honored at something called the Rally to Restore Sanity. In the world of pro wrestling, he’s known for taking sports entertainment to its most masochistic extremes. He’s lost an ear in the ring, and just a little over a week before his appearance at Jon Stewart’s “Million Moderate March,” Foley body slammed a half-naked, 61 year old “Nature Boy” Ric Flair onto a mat covered in very real thumbtacks on Spike TV’s “TNA Impact.” But there is a kindly Dr. Jekyll to Foley’s grappling Mr. Hyde. Outside the ring, he helps build schools in Africa through his giving to Child Fund International and is a passionate supporter of RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), an anti-sexual violence nonprofit that Foley first learned about through his devotion to singer-songwriter Tori Amos. Yes, the man dubbed “the Hardcore Legend” in wrestling circles is one of Amos’ biggest fans, both literally and figuratively.

Equally as extreme in his philanthropy as he is in a steel cage match, Foley donated the entire advance for his fourth memoir, “Countdown to Lockdown” (Grand Central Publishing, 2010), to his charities. Although Foley’s previous three memoirs all hit the “New York Times” bestseller list and he still earns a living through wrestling, forfeiting his advance is no small tithe from a man nearing the end of his ability to sacrifice his body on the altar of sports entertainment. Foley writes about living at the twilight of his career in “Countdown to Lockdown” and intersperses stories of his philanthropy with the red meat of his pay-per-view comeback and his parting with Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment. In a recent phone interview, Foley discusses the Rally to Restore Sanity, how he got talked out of going on “The O’Reilly Factor,” and how democrats can tap into their inner pro wrestler.

BOB CALHOUN: Did you ever think that Mick Foley, the hardcore legend, would get an award for sanity?

MICK FOLEY: I don’t know about sanity. It was officially for “reasonableness,” and I know that because I’m looking at it as it hangs around my neck. No, especially because one can argue that many of my actions in and around the wrestling ring were not all that reasonable so I think it’s appropriate that Jon specified that the award is for being reasonable everywhere else but my day job.

BC: You’re not losing an ear for your charitable work.

MF: No, but I’d be willing to.

BC: But that’s almost reasonable–almost.

MF: You know I think that is completely reasonable. If the stakes were high enough I would lose a body part to end sexual violence.

BC: Being at Stewart and Colbert’s rally, what do you think it accomplished?

MF: I loved Jon’s speech at the end of the rally. I think almost everybody who watched could take the story of the cars passing one by one into a small tunnel only by working together to heart. When it’s phrased that way, and when Jon mentioned that we actually do work together in this country everywhere but in congress and on cable television, it struck a chord with people.

BC: In keeping with Stewart’s criticism of the 24-hour news cycle, in “Countdown to Lockdown” you write that you contemplated going on “The O’Reilly Factor” to address the Chris Benoit tragedy, but were talked out of it. (In June 2007, WWE wrestler Chris Benoit murdered his wife and two children and then committed suicide.)

MF: I was talked out of it by a woman at Child Fund International, formerly the Christian Children’s Fund. I told her that I thought that Bill and I could have a good conversation and her quote was, “Yes, you could, but that’s entirely up to him.” I really thought about the coverage that the Benoit murders had received and I realized so much of it was sound bytes and knee jerk reactions. Despite the fact that the cable news channels ran 24-hours a day, there was almost no deep reflection on what may have happened. More recently, the chaos in Iran following the elections ceased to exist once Michael Jackson died. It seems amazing to me to think that the people in charge of the news don’t think that the American people can concentrate on more than one issue at a time.

BC: How do you feel about the beating that your profession took in the recent Connecticut senate race? Was there a better way for Dick Blumenthal and Democrats to criticize Linda McMahon’s tenure as a CEO of WWE?

MF: As someone who is close to the subject and who has fed his children through the business of professional wrestling for their entire lives (I’ve been in it for 25 years; I’ve had a family for almost 19), although Blumenthal won in Connecticut, I think the idea that people were criticizing a form of entertainment enjoyed by millions of people across the country was very condescending and may have led to the feeling Americans had of democrats being out of touch.

BC: Do you think that the Democrats need to get in touch with their inner pro wrestler?

MF: I think they need to make Jim Webb the senate majority leader and attempt to shift the image of democrats from liberal weenies to tough-talking, straight-shooting Americans. I really respect what Harry Reid has done and I think Nancy Pelosi is a great congressperson, but I do not think that people can connect with them at all. If every liberal in the country was willing to give up lattes for two years, you could put those republicans in the unenviable position of having to talk about those “damned whiskey drinking liberals.”

BC: In your new book you have your own criticisms of WWE like the fake McMahon memorial.

MF: I openly criticized them and I thought that a couple of storylines that (the Blumenthal campaign) trotted out to hurt Mrs. McMahon were indeed terrible storylines, but I don’t think that they’re indicative at all of the type of program WWE is. It reminds me of reading Joe Lieberman’s memoir, “In Praise of Public Life,” (Simon & Schuster, 2000) where he warned that with senators who make thousands of votes over the course of their careers, that one or two votes can serve as fodder for political attack ads. As an American citizen watching the fifth game of the World Series, I was just irate over the sheer number of political attack ads coming from both sides. The only person who serves to gain from that is the guy doing the voice-overs.

BC: There’s another part of “Countdown to Lockdown” where you’re cheered by an entire village in Sierra Leone and this isn’t for running your body into exploding barbed wire.

MF: It was such a surreal feeling. I had been on the flight from the US to the UK, and then from the UK to Freetown. I knew that nobody in the country was really was familiar with wrestling at all. I took a ferry from the airport area to Freetown proper. Out of the six or 700 people on that ferry, not one person knew who I was. They looked at me because I was a large white guy with long, unkempt hair, but that was the only thing remarkable about me. Yet when I got to these small villages, child after child was yelling my name. They even had songs they sang in unison, and it turns out that I am known and very well liked solely because I contributed money to help build schools in the area.

BC: How did that change your outlook on things?

MF: First of all I realized that I did not have to commit so many reckless acts to earn the acceptance of people I’d never met. But I also, on a serious note, I came to identify Africa, at least the part of Africa I was in, as a place of hope and joy and not just despair. I really believe education is a key to bringing this continent out of the situation it’s in.

BC: Has Tori Amos been getting more attention from wrestling fans since your book hit the shelves?

MF: (Laughs) Honestly, I do not know. I have not had contact with her since the book was published. The people I know at RAINN who know her, say she’s still very flattered. I imagine that there’s been a lot of people Googling her or checking out the links to certain songs. If she knew that it’s drawing people to a cause like RAINN that she holds so dear, I can’t imagine her minding.

BC: You’ve written four memoirs. Other memoirists write about cooking Julia Childs recipes, or they don’t use toilet paper for a year, or they write about their tawdry sex lives. Do you worry that the success of your writing is too closely tied to getting choke slammed off of steel cages and would you rather have the tawdry sex?

MF: I do write about my sex life, but because it’s mine, I can’t use the adjective tawdry to describe it. I really enjoy telling stories. This book is not doing as well as the others have, but the people who are reading it are enjoying it. Because 100% of the advance was donated to the causes I care about, it’s always seemed like a labor of love to me.

BC: What’s next for Mick Foley?

MF: I’ve got a lot of things on the horizon. I’ve got a movie based on parts of my life that I’m writing along with director Christopher Scott. It’s a movie being produced by Jeff Katz ("Snakes on a Plane") who’s had great success in the motion picture industry. I may dabble in fiction again. I intend to talk RAINN when the opportunity lends itself and hopefully try to make a difference where I can while simultaneously being a dad who’s home a little bit often.

06/14/10

Permalink 05:54:13 pm, by bobcalhoun Email , 2271 words, 4822 views English (US)
Categories: Interview, Music, Wrestling

Break the Walls Down: Chris Jericho Speaks

Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho earns audience ire by giving them a stern talking to (photo courtesy of World Wrestling Entertainment).

On Thursday May 13, pro wrestling bad guy Chris Jericho played a packed nightclub in Glasgow, Scotland with his power metal band Fozzy in support of their new album “Chasing the Grail.” The following day he fronted a show in Nottingham, England and then did two shows in London the day after that. On Sunday he rested (or likely traveled), but was in Toronto on Monday getting clotheslined out of the ring during the weekly broadcast of the WWE’s flagship program “Monday Night RAW". Only five days later he was at it again, playing a rocker dive in Chesterfield, Michigan followed by a pay-per-view tag team match in Detroit the next afternoon. Just like any other rocker, Jericho can’t quit his day job to pursue his dreams of rock n’ roll glory, but in Jericho’s case, that day job involves body slams, spandex and pyro.

As if Jericho doesn’t have enough on his plate, he’s found himself in the middle of a literary blogosphere controversy, albeit indirectly. In a recent Huffington Post blog titled “Why Men Don’t Read: How Publishing is Alienating Half the Population,” book editor-turned-thriller-writer Jason Pinter details the difficulties in getting his mostly female former higher ups at Grand Central Publishing to take a chance on Jericho’s memoirs despite the wrestler’s obvious media profile. In the end, the fate of Jericho’s book hinged on the opinion of the fifteen-year-old nephew of one of the company’s senior editors. Luckily for all involved, the kid was a Jericho fan. The resulting book, “A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex", cracked the New York Times bestseller list and has spawned a sequel titled “Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps", which is scheduled to hit the shelves in February 2011. Not surprisingly, Jericho has composed much of the new volume while on airplanes.

As Pinter’s assertions of an estrogen-dominated publishing industry sparked off a firestorm of controversy in web outlets both large and small (with Salon’s own Lara Miller weighing in), I had to get Jericho’s take on this whole thing. After a Memorial Day promotional appearance at an FYE in Austin, Texas, Jericho granted me the following interview. Of course we discussed Pinter and the upcoming book, but we also found the time to talk about heavy metal, the psychology of getting wrestling fans to hate you, and Jericho’s hand in coining Tony Stark’s favorite put-down from “Iron Man 2″. In fact there was so much to go over, we didn’t even mention Jericho’s appearance in the summer comedy movie “MacGruber” or his upcoming gig as the host of the ABC reality show “Downfall", which wasn’t announced at the time of our conversation. Jericho did have time for both Monty Python and Woody Allen references, however.

BOB CALHOUN: You’re the first person that I ever heard call someone an ass clown. How did you feel when you heard that in “Iron Man 2″?

CHRIS JERICHO: I was laughing because I thought I should get a royalty for that or something. I came up with that on the spot. We were in Bakersfield, California, just doing dueling insults with Kurt Angle. He was like, “you’re this,” and I’m that. And I’m like, “You’re just an ass… clown.” People kind of laughed at it so I said it on TV a week later, and then the next week after that there were signs in the crowd that said “ass clown.” That’s how you can always see if people like something. If you say something on TV and the next week there’s signs in the crowd with that phrase on it. Right off the bat, I knew that I had stumbled onto something.

BC: That’s the kind of audience feedback that you have in pro wrestling that you don’t get as a rock band or in any other kind theater or performance.

CJ: Because it’s a weekly serial almost like the 1940s, you see the instant gratification of what happened the week before. Playing a show with Fozzy, I’ll get the gratification that night, but it’s not like you’re going back to Glasgow the next week to see if people enjoyed a certain song or whatever. It’s the same thing when you’re acting. You don’t get any gratification for that for six months or eight months afterwards until you go to the theaters or see your work on TV. But with wrestling, because it’s live theater, because it’s televised around the world, because you show up every week to do it, you get the feedback right away.

BC: With your most recent heel incarnation where you’re lecturing the audience on how they need to grow up, were you surprised at the kind of reaction that you got in this post-modern era? The kind of ire and hatred that you got for doing that?

CJ: It’s not the line that you say, it’s how you deliver it, and nobody likes being talked down to. Nobody likes it either if you’re telling them something that’s the truth. If you were walking across the street and you were about to get hit by a bus and I saved you, but every single day I went, “Hey, remember when I saved you from getting hit by a bus. You should’ve looked both ways.” At first, you’d be like, “Well, yeah, you’re right.” After awhile you’d say, “Shut up. I understand. Enough already. I wish you’d let me get fucking hit by the bus.” And that’s kind of how it works with what I’m doing in the WWE with calling people hypocrites. It all stems from something that really happened, and people don’t like being told the same thing over and over and over again. It becomes quite sickening. That’s the reason the character has drawn such ire for such a long time, it’s that I’m a know-it-all who’s basically telling the truth with what’s going on in society, but people don’t like being told that.

BC: If Robert Downey Jr. calls anybody a gelatinous tapeworm in “Iron Man 3″ are you going to challenge him to cage match?

CJ: I’ll jump through the screen like Woody Allen’s “Purple Rose of Cairo” and attack him right then and there.

BC: You could get a good movie out of that.

CJ: You could.

BC: Tell me about Fozzy’s “Chasing the Grail” album. What is the grail, how fast is it moving and why are you chasing it?

CJ: The grail could be anything. I wrote a song called “Grail” and our guitar player Rich (Ward) came up with the idea of “Chasing the Grail” for the record title. You’re not exactly chasing an old cup that Jesus drank wine out of. The grail is something that could be a job, a girl that you’re looking to catch – whatever it may be. So it stands for anything that’s a goal in your life or a dream that you set out to capture. For me, it’s an African Side Flying Swallow and it moves about 36 miles per hour on land and I’m going to catch that son of a bitch one of these days.

BC: Now the lyrics on the record are a mix of The Bible, Stephen King and Viking disembowelment.

CJ: Well yeah, it’s a heavy metal record so those are the three food groups that you go to: Stephen King, Bible and Viking disembowelment. Any metal band worth their weight in rock will hit those subjects over and over again.

BC: You’re a Christian and you’re way into metal. Do you ever feel that you get if from both sides? That you have Christians who don’t understand how you can be into heavy metal, and you have pagan or atheist metalheads who don’t understand your faith?

CJ: Back in the 1980s, you used get that when metal was first coming into prominence. You know the picketing. You’d go to an Iron Maiden concert and there’d be signs. I think now the whole world has calmed down a bit. If you really want to get technical about it, God created everything anyway so God created Iron Maiden believe it or not. Heavy metal’s a release, a great way to work out your aggressions. It was when I was 15 and it is now that I’m 39.

BC: Tell me about Jason Pinter. Were you aware of the hoops that he had to jump through to get “A Lion’s Tale” published?

CJ: No, I wasn’t aware of it at all and it was actually really interesting to hear that story. Especially now that the people at Grand Central (Publishing) signed Bret Hart’s book, they signed Mick Foley’s book, so these other books are signed because of “A Lion’s Tale". And hat’s off to Jason for seeing that. Am I a wrestler? Yes, but it’s so much more than that. I didn’t write “A Lion’s Tale” for wrestling fans. I wrote it for people who might not know anything about wrestlers, (as) more of a follow your dreams type of book than “then I gave him a body slam.” I think that it paid off in spades. I wasn’t aware of the lengths that Jason had to go through to get the book signed so when I read about it, I was kind of laughing because he hadn’t told me that story. Soon after he signed the book, he left the company to go and write on his own. So he started as my editor for about two weeks, but then I never saw him again until hearing this story on his blog.

BC: How would you compare the publishing industry to pro wrestling?

CJ: I don’t know. There’s not a lot of similarities I don’t think except that they’re both entertainment involved businesses. I think writing any kind of a book whether you’re a wrestler, a musician, or an actor; it’s such an art form. It’s such an arduous process. It takes such a long time. I’ve never been the guy that would pawn off my story to somebody else to write. I’ve written every world of both of my books including the one that I’m just going to ship right now. I work with a collaborator to give me some thoughts and advice as I write it myself. I think that that’s one of the reasons why “A Lion’s Tale” was so successful because I was very hands on with it – the same way I’ve been with my wrestling career from the moment I started.

BC: Now you’re writing the new book on planes, at least from reading your Twitter feed.

CJ: Yeah, that’s the way for me to do it: planes, trains and automobiles, man. You do so much traveling that it really makes the time go by faster, especially when you’re writing and you get really into it. Hours go by as if in minutes. It’s funny too because I’m a big fan of watching movies and DVDs and I haven’t watched anything in the last couple of months because all I’ve been doing is writing every single chance that I get. So now that I’m almost done, I have these huge piles of DVDs in my house that I have to start watching because I haven’t had any time to do it. All my spare time, even when I’m not on a plane is devoted to writing this book, rewriting it and editing it. There’s a lot of work to it. I’m up for it, but I couldn’t churn out a book a year like Stephen King. I don’t know how in the hell he does it, but I’m sure he probably wonders how I could wrestle 210 times a year.

BC: I take it the new book is about your experiences in WWE?

CJ: That and Fozzy. It’s as much of a rock and roll book as it is a wrestling book. It’s kind of half and half. Actually, my experiences in LA acting as well – it’s kind of an all encapsulating show business memoir.

BC: Your previous book, “A Lions Tale,” is about promotions that you had worked in in the past and a lot of them aren’t even in existence any more. Is there a different feeling going into writing a book about that includes your current employer and co-workers?

CJ: Not really. I don’t have any reasons to be angry about anything. I’ve had a big career and have done everything anyone can ever do. Obviously there are some stories where there are disagreements or conflict and that’s what makes the stories interesting. At the end of the day, everyone I write about I have the utmost respect for. You have watch what you say in certain points but I watched what I said in the first book too because I wasn’t coming up to settle any scores or be bitter. There’s a couple of villains in the first book and there’s a couple of villains in the second book. There’s some great stories about some of my clashes with Vince (McMahon), but that’s bound to happen when you’ve worked with somebody for almost ten years.

BC: In your experience with your first book, do men read?

CJ: Absolutely. Absolutely. This book was read by every demographic and every segment of society that I could imagine: men, women, hermaphrodites, everybody. Now that I’ve been doing in-store signings for Fozzy and “Chasing the Grail", I sign at least 20 or 30 books at every signing from people that have just bought it. It’s still selling, which to me is amazing.

04/12/10

Permalink 11:03:58 pm, by bobcalhoun Email , 1565 words, 20635 views English (US)
Categories: Interview, San Francisco, Martial Arts

Jim Kelly: Right Out of a Comic Book Convention

Jim Kelly
Karate master Jim Kelly signs an expansive “Enter the Dragon” poster presented to him by a fan at WonderCon in San Francisco on April 2, 2010.

In the section of WonderCon in San Francisco reserved for cult TV and movie actors, Lou Ferrigno flexed his muscles across from Peter Mayhew, the 7′ tall Englishman who played Chewbacca in a thick fur suit before Lucas gave us digitized Wookiees. Lindsay “The Bionic Woman” Wagner sat one table down from Erin Gray from “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” and strangely, Mo Mallady, the voice of the animated pitch lady in a series of Esurance commercials, was on hand to sign 8x10s of her pink-haired avatar. But the biggest surprise among the tables in autograph alley at this year’s WonderCon was the appearance by Jim “Enter the Dragon” Kelly, the “baddest mother ever to hit the big screen.”

As the Afro topped badass named Williams in “Enter the Dragon” (1973), Kelly has some of the most quotable lines in a movie filled with them. He’s “too busy lookin’ good,” Mr. Han-man comes “right out of a comic book” and, “ghettoes are the same all over the world– they stink.” After Kelly was done kicking it (literally) with Bruce Lee in what the Warner Brothers ad campaign trumpeted as “the first martial arts film produced by a major Hollywood studio,” Kelly had continued success in lower budgeted blacksploitation flicks such as “Black Belt Jones” (1974) and “Black Samurai (1977). He also joined Jim Brown and Fred Williamson for the triple threat slugfest “Three the Hard Way” (1974) and reteamed with Brown and Williamson (with Lee Van Cleef thrown in for good measure) in the Spaghetti Western “Take a Hard Ride” in 1975.

After some minor roles in a couple of episodes of “Highway to Heaven” in the mid-1980s, Kelly mostly faded away from acting, but he’s let his presence be known with recent signings at the San Diego Comic-Con and WonderCon. Though he has yet to cash in on any kind of Quentin Tarantino gravy train, he is far from forgotten. At WonderCon, his signing table sported a steady stream of admirers, many of them too young to have seen “Enter the Dragon” during its initial release. After receiving an autographed photo of Kelly, many addressed him as sensei or sifu as they thanked him. During a very rare lull in business, I was able to score the following interview with Kelly where we discussed how he landed the role of Williams, the early days of the American martial arts scene, and his reunion with his other “Enter the Dragon” co-star, John Saxon, which was appropriately in a dojo.

BC: “Enter the Dragon,” How did you come on board that?

JK: It was my second movie actually. My first movie was “Melinda” (1972). I was at my karate studio and my agent called me. She said, “Jim, I want you to go down to Warner Bros and interview for this fight film.” She called it a fight film. I said, “Okay.” She said, “You won’t get the part, but go out there. I want you to meet the producers. They’re going to be doing more fight films. They have a guy they want already, but they’re just having a little problem with him so they’re interviewing other people.” So I went out there and talked to Fred Weintraub and Paul Heller and looked at the script for a second. They asked me what I thought of the script. I said, “I love it. I think it’s a great script.” They said, “How soon can you leave for Hong Kong?”

BC: Where was your karate studio and how long were you training in the martial arts prior to “Enter the Dragon"?

JK: I started training in the martial arts in 1964. I started training in Okinawan Shorin-Ryu style with an instructor by the name of Parker Shelton in Lexington, Kentucky.

BC: That whole Midwest martial arts scene…

JK: Yeah, yeah, exactly. I think they were all involved with this guy named Robert Trias. They were all in connection with that, the Okinawan Sorin-Ryu system. Then I went to Chicago; trained in Chicago for a while. I got a green belt in Kentucky and got a brown belt in Chicago and taught in Chicago. Then I came to San Diego and got my black belt under Sgt. LeRoy Edwards, a Marine Corps sergeant.

BC: Did you have any idea in the late 1960s/early 70s that martial arts was going to lead to a film career for you or for anybody?

JK: In 1969, after I got my black belt from Sgt. LeRoy Edwards in San Diego, I had to make a decision about what I wanted to do with my life. I said, “What will make me happy?” I said, “I need to make a lot of money, I need to be very famous, and I need to be motivational for kids.” Since I wasn’t going to play professional football, and I was a very good football player. I played college football and I could have gone on to play pro. Since I wasn’t going to do that, how was I going to get these needs of mine of met? I said, “Why don’t I become an actor?” What I had to do was become world karate champion and use that as a stepping-stone and maybe get into the movies. Maybe by the time I did this, they wouldn’t be doing John Wayne fights anymore. Maybe karate would be popular. Bruce Lee had already been Kato in “The Green Hornet” so I thought that maybe one day this stuff would be popular in movies. So if I became world karate champion, maybe I’d get a break to get into the movie business. My super goal was to become an actor. So I left San Diego, moved to Los Angeles, and started my mission towards becoming world karate champ.

BC: What year did you achieve that?

JK: I went to the international championships in 69, no 70. I sat there and watched the matches with my friends and I told them, “Next year when I come back here, I will be the middleweight international karate champion.” They said, “Oh you can do it Jim but it’s going to take you longer than one year to do that.” But I came back the next year and I won the international middleweight karate championship. One year.

BC: What about working with Bruce Lee? Working with him both as an actor and a martial artist on “Enter the Dragon"?

JK: That would take me a long time to explain all of that to you. I’ll tell you quickly: it was one of the best experiences in my life. Bruce was just incredible, absolutely fantastic. I learned so much from working with him. I probably enjoyed working with Bruce more than anyone else I’d ever worked with in movies because we were both martial artists. And he was a great, great martial artist. It was very good.

BC: And John Saxon, everyone thinks he was just an actor but he had some judo training.

JK: Karate with (Hidetaka) Nishiyama. When Nishiyama opened a school down in LA, John was one of his first students in the shotokan system.

BC: When people watch that movie, they think that you and Saxon are the characters that you are in the movie; that you’re as thick as thieves and you’re running around gambling and karate fighting together. They believe you’re Williams and Roper from that movie.

JK: I saw John in 1991. It was the first time I saw him since “Enter the Dragon.” I was working out at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy. I was taking private lessons down there. I was leaving one of my classes and (early UFC champion) Royce (Gracie) said, “Hey Jim, guess who’s in the other room taking a private lesson?” I said, “Who?” He said, “John Saxon.” I went in and said hello to him.

BC: Did you spar with John Saxon?

JK: No, we didn’t spar. He was busy training and taking a private lesson. I just wanted to touch base. It was the first time I’d seen him since “Enter the Dragon.”

BC: What about “Black Belt Jones” and “Black Samurai” and those starring vehicles, those exploitation type pictures in the 1970s?

JK: Actually, it was a good experience. I did pretty good financially with them because at the time, my agent was able to negotiate some pretty good deals. I also had great experience working. That’s one thing about the films from that time, a lot of the actors, especially minority actors, it gave them a chance to work. They made money and also got the experience working.

There was still so much more to ask Kelly about the filming of “Enter the Dragon” in Hong Kong, working with Brown and Williamson in “Three the Hard Way,” as well as his take on mixed martial arts and any future projects. Unfortunately for this interview, the line of fans hungry for his autograph was starting to extend down the aisle. One admirer even brought this huge, two-sheet “Enter the Dragon” poster that was too big to use as a tablecloth. When I checked back with Kelly, there was never another break in the action long enough for me to ask some follow-up questions. Jim Kelly was too busy looking good.

Beer, Blood and Piecemeal.

The rock and reading odyssey of a 300-pound hulk.

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