Bill Wallace Interview (1978)

Bill Superfoot Wallace


By any name he is the most well-known professional karate full contact fighter in the world today. He has progressed from being known as a “runner” to an agressive, well trained fighter with a perfect record. He has gone from an “approval seeking,” confidence-lacking individual to an aggressive, polished, well-conditioned fighting machine with the ability to become the O.J. Simpson of Karate. He is known for his lightning-fast kicks, but unbeknownst to many, there more than just a left kg to Bill Wallace. His left hook is equally devastating; in fact, the majority of his recent victories and their attendant knockouts have to e attributed to his powerful left hand, rather than his legendary left leg. He has owned schools an has worked for school owners – Elvis Presley included; he is an author and a college professor. Truly, Bill Wallace is many things, un unbelievably complex man, but most of all he epitomizes what every karateka hopes to be — an undefeated world champion.
Being involved in a few business ventures with Bill and knowing I was in the process of publishing “The World Journal,” he invited me to Memphis one weekend to discuss a few natters and to watch him train for his the upcoming fight with Herbie Thompson. When Bill picked me up at the airport, he immediately began a typical Bill Wallace conversation avoiding business and talking about one of his favorite hobbies: Cars.
I thought that this was going to be one of those days Wallace has in the past been known for, a day where all he wants to io is play around and throw kicks at your head. I was in for surprise. We went directly to Memphis State University where he teaches wrestling, judo, self-defense and karate and began working out. It was amazing to see man so self disziplined. With the exception of his son and myself, there was no one else around to prompt him, cuss or coax him into working. He did it on his own. He has been doing this for months … in order to be able to go the 9 “full speed” rounds required for the fights.

He began by jumping rope … not two minute rounds which, by the way, is the length of a round, but THREE minute rounds. He would then rest one minute and begin jumping again. He did this for 3 rounds. He even had a large timing clock to keep himself from cheating. Then he stretched … by this time he was sweating profusely. He immediately went to the heavy bag and started working hand combinations.
He would throw jabs moving around the bag; he would work close to the bag throwing (by anyone’s terms) a devastating left hook. It was obvious he had been receiving expert boxing training for he would stay low and get excellent body rotation into every hook; then he would break away from the bag and work his right hand by throwing right leads, combinations and countering techniques. This would go on for 3 minutes with one-minute rest intervals. He worked the bag 4 rounds as hard as he could. Very impressive.

Bill Superfoot Wallace
Superfoot in victorious pose after defeating Pat Worley.

He then went to his trademark, kicking. Left leg only. His right leg was injured so as to render it ineffective. He threw between 70 to 90 kicks in 3 minutes with that famous left leg. AMAZING! UNBELIEVABLE! And this isn’t some promo hype … I saw it. I counted the kicks with my own eyes. And I had four opportunities to do so because he went four 3-minute rounds with one-minute rests in between. 70 to 90 kicks per round for four rounds … outstanding … and he went full speed, full strength, all four rounds. By the way, his last round was the one that had 90 kicks. When he finished, he looked as if he had been in a swimming pool fully clothed. I weighed his sweatshirt and gi pants after he had taken them off and they contained 9 lbs. of sweat. That’s DEDICATION.” Afterwards, we went to eat hamburgers and ice cream. Bill explained that in addition to the morning workout I witnessed, he worked several days each week with his trainer Bevo Covington and sparred boxers, working as many as 10 rounds per day. He also runs 3 miles each night. All this in addition to teaching, raising a family and keeping a wife happy. PHENOMENAL! I was advised that Bill had even been offered a package to turn to professional boxing which included a title shot within 10 fights. I was astounded. Our interview began in the middle of lunch. It started with his training, his boxing abilities, proceeded through his prediction of the Herbie Thompson fight (which, by the way, was correct), went on to his interpretation of his fight with Blinky Rodriquez, his relationship and experiences with Elvis Presley, and finally, went on into his plans for the future.
Since the interview he has knocked out Herbie Thompson, Pat Worley, beat Burnis White and threatened to retire … but there will be more to come from Bill Wallace. The interview itself offers at least a fleeting glimpse into the mind that throws those powerful kicks and punches. We say fleeting because he is as much a moving target outside the ring as in. You should enjoy the interview, but watch out! Bill’s words can be as sharp and quick as his leg—even though you have your eye on it, you don’t always see it coming until it floors you .. .
By Mike Cassaway

Q: Today you did 3 rounds on the ropes, 4 rounds on the bag and 4 rounds kicking. How long have you been training eleven rounds a day?

Wallace: Usually, I do. Well, I should have today, but I didn’t feel like it. Usually I do five rounds kicking.

Q: You were throwing from 60 to 90 kicks a round.

Wallace: Between 80 and 90 kicks a round.

Q: That’s a lot of kicks, isn’t it?

Wallace: Everything is a combination (bap, bap, bap). You know, basically everything is three or four kicks.

Q: Yeah. But you’re not just flipping them out, you go bap, bap, bap. I was watching them and you weren’t just flipping them out ….

Wallace: That’s what everybody says they do … they couldn’t hurt you. (facetiously)

Q: Well, you threw some at me and I wouldn’t want to be hit with them. Do you vary your training? Like today—you didn’t actually fight anyone.

Wallace: Yeah, usually, you see, like Tuesday I spar.

Q: Do you find karate competitors around here to spar with?

Wallace: No. Most karate people don’t want to fight because they don’t want to get hit.

Q: So, what do you do?

Wallace: I work with boxers. Then I have karate people throw kicks at me so I can work on defense.

Q: We were up at Memphis State today in your classroom. Is that where you usually work out?

Wallace: Yeah, the classroom is a combative room. That’s where all my classes take place. We usually have a mat down there, but it’s out being fixed right now. That’s where my bag is and that’s where I work on my training and so forth.

Q: When you spar boxers, do they come down there or do you go do ring work?

Wallace: Well, I go over to the fairgrounds where Bevo Covington, my boxing trainer, is located. He’s got a lot of bags and a nice, hot room for me to work out in … and he’s got bodies for me to beat on. But, no, there are some pretty good boxers over there and I get some real good training.

Q: Tell me what you work on with the boxers.

Wallace: Well, when I go over there, I take about 10 or 15 minutes to loosen up and I stretch my legs out real good and I work 4 three minute rounds on the bag or 4 three minute rounds jumping rope … excuse me … 4 three minute rounds on the bag and I’ll do 3 two minute rounds kicking and then I’ll spar probably 4 or 5 rounds… then I’ll do three more rounds kicking at the end.

Q: I didn’t get to see you spar … do you throw kicks at the boxers or do you work on defending against punching?

Wallace: Sometimes it depends on the boxer—often I’ll just box with him. Then, sometimes one of the boxers will let me throw kicks at him, but, not too many of them.

Bill Wallace
Bill “Superfoot” Wallace inside his Memphis dojo.

Q: How does that usually work out?

Wallace: Bad for them … again like we were demonstrating in the room, you know, like I can do more with my legs than I can with my hands.

Q: Boy, l’ll say you can do it with your legs. You didn’t look too bad with your hands, either.

Wallace: Terrible! I’m learning, though.

Q: You were stinging that bag pretty good.

Wallace: I’m getting too old . . . but I don’t know too many people who are 32 years old who are in really good shape, outside of Lewis. (Joe) Lewis is in good shape; what is he, about 33 now?

Q: In your past fights, have you had any referee problems? Or have you been satisfied?

Wallace: Well, mostly satisfied. I’ve only gone the distance twice, and one was because I carried him.

Q: Now, this Rodriguez fight … I’ve read some stuff that sounded not necessarily derrogatory, hut, said you got hurt and could have been knocked out. I want to hear your side of that story.

Wallace: O.K. … we were fighting and in the fifth round he caught me with a good left hook and I’m not going to hide it or anything ’cause it was a good left hook—really a good left hook—and it hurt; hut, there was no way I was going down, as soon as he hit me with it I hit him with about 2 or 3 left hooks of my own right after that. Then I said “son of a gun, this thing hurts,” so I covered up and hacked into the ropes to protect myself.

Q: Is this a technique you’ve learned from your standard boxing training?

Wallace: Right, I mean, you know, you show me one boxer who, when hurt, doesn’t cover up and hack against the ropes. Everybody said after that, that I was on my way out . . . well, if I was on my way out, how come when Kenny Knudson pulled him off of me I just straightened up, dropped my hands and started walking towards my corner? If I was hurt I don’t think I could have walked in a straight line.

Q: Rodriquez says he kicked you in the stomach.

Wallace: Well, millions of people saw the kick go in the groin and I felt it go in the groin. It wasn’t one of those kinds that were the thudding kind, it caught right on the very tip of it. It was the stinging kind. You know, it just hurt for a little while. He didn’t catch it real good, but, he screwed up. He had me hurt, you know, just for a split second.

Q: Were your legs gone?

Wallace: No, no way. He said in an interview that my legs were wobbly … and I asked him, how could he tell if my legs were wobbly? He couldn’t.

Q: What about your Rhode Island fight against Ron Thivierge? Tell me about that.

Wallace: Yeah, well, it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it. I went to Providence, Rhode Island, this kid that I was supposed to fight, from what they tell me, was supposed to he a good kicker. So, I said, “Well, this should be a good match.” I went to the press conference and he said he was going to heat me in 6 rounds and that I was washed up and over the hill. So, I said, “Well, we’ll find out if l’rn over the hill come Saturday night.” So, come Saturday knocked him down 18 times. .

Q: What were you hitting him with?

Wallace: Basically, kicking techniques, but also punching techniques. He said in an interview that my kicks didn’t hurt him, but then I knocked him down about four or five times, so .. .

Q: A lot of karate enthusiasts have been writing you since they have seen you up there. I guess you haven’t fought much in that area; it seems like you received positive feedback from that. Do you find that’s normal when you go somewhere that you haven’t been?

Wallace: I like to go and talk to people—you know; I don’t know … I guess basically the way I fight is aesthetically pleasing because I don’t brawl anybody. I try to use technique and I guess this is what people want to see; and, that’s why I get the money I get, I assume.

Q: Well, the money’s riot bad for Elvis Presley’s “hapless sparring partner.” I imagine everyone in the world who knows anything about karate is absolutely incensed over that. What was your reaction when you saw the photo in the National Enquirer and the caption beneath it?

Wallace: Well, the picture gave the appearance that Elvis was kicking me in the groin. This  was part of a promotion for a movie that he was having made. It was a documentary movie on karate!. I’d never seen hirn spar or anything, but I guess when Elvis could have the Middleweight World Champion as a “hapless sparring partner,” he thought he was up there pretty big.

Q: How did all that come about. How did that picture session occur?

Wallace: O.K. Evidently, there were some people there who took the pictures that weren’t supposed to he there (from what I understand) and that picture first appeared in People magazine hack in ’74. It appeared about a week or two after it was taken and then, all of a sudden, it appeared again; hut, this time I am a “hapless sparring partner” rather than a world champion.

Q: The story said that the groin kick was a ritual of sorts .. .

A: It’s a promotion type thing. You know, you stand there and he gets to kick you. Basically, it’s Ed Parker’s deal for a promotion.

Q: Were you being promoted, or was he (Presley)?

Wallace: I don’t know. But they said, “stand there and he is going to kick you,” and I said, “He’s not going to kick me.”

Q: Well, did he?

Wallace: Yeah, but it wasn’t hard at all.

Q: The picture looked like he wound up and got you. Was it just a tap?

Wallace: No, it wasn’t anything. My kids kick me harder than he did. He pulled it somewhat . . . he had shoes on … that’s what worried me more than anything. He had those big cloddy boots on!

Q: What was your relationship with Elvis Presley in the karate business?

Wallace: He owned the school that I was teaching at and I’d teach there, I’d go out to his house once in a while.

Q: Did you have much personal contact with Elvis?

Wallace: Not a lot. Nobody had personal contact with Elvis . . not even his closest body guards had really personal contact with him.

Q: How many times had you been to his house?

Wallace: Seven or eight, but I stopped going out there in ’75.

Q: Any reason?

Wallace: Yeah, he’d invite all of us out there. We’d go out there and then he’d go up to his room and lock the door and stay up with his girl friend who was Linda Thompson at that time. And then he’d stay up there all night and we’d be downstairs waiting for him to come down, We’d get out there around 7 o’clock at night and still be sitting there at 10 thirty and he still wouldn’t be down, So, I Just said “to hell with it.”

Q: I’ve read articles saying Elvis was quite violent. is that true?

Wallace: One incident, I remember, involved his new $19,000 Pantera sports car and a large gun. Elvis had taken me for a ride in his new car, but the thing, for one reason or another, wouldn’t start. He got so mad, he went inside the house, got a gun, came outside, and shot the car full of holes.

Q: Have you ever seen Elvis Presley actually perform any karate?

Wallace: Well, he’d demonstrate some of his quote unquote, “deadly techniques”

Q: Tell me about those

Wallace: Well, what you’d do is you would stand there and not move and he would do all this stuff and say “And I could’ve killed you if I’d wanted to” kind of thing.

Q: Kind of like a ten-year-old going home and showing Daddy what he learned at school,

Wallace: Yeah, exactly. That’s what it basically was, But, I can’t get mad at him or anything or blame him, because he couldn’t spar. He couldn’t afford to have a broken nose or a busted lip or get something hurt,

Q: But everybody said that he had a black belt, Did you award him that black belt?

Wallace: No, Ed Parker did.

Q: Was that an honorary type deal or what?

Wallace: I would think Ed Parker gave him an honorary black belt more than he would giving it to him for actually working out because, I mean, he had eight of them! He claimed to be a real eighth degree black belt in kempo, though.

Q: Do you think there might have been any incentive in Mr. Parker’s just giving him a black belt?

Wallace: Like what?

Q: Well, who knows?

Wallace: Oh, I’m sure there was. I mean, I would be thrilled to have a man with Elvis Presley’s credentials as my personal student.

Q: Would Presley pay him for lessons or pay him for his black belt?

Wallace: I’m sure he did, well, I don’t know yeah, he . I’m sure he did. I don’t know for certain and I couldn’t swear to it, but I’m sure he made it quite worth his while. It’s all a matter of promotion. Ed Parker had schools he wanted to promote and Elvis was a good way to promote them.

Q: You read these stories that are in the book that’s out about Elvis’ violence and his beating up on his body guards. Did his body guards actually work out down at your school?

Wallace: Yes.

Q: Were they skilled in karate?

Wallace: The only one that was any good in karate was Red West (co-author of “Elvis —What’s Happened?”). Well, Dave Hebler used to work out, too, but he was basically an Ed Parker student. . never saw Dave Hebler work out, but Red would come down to the school and we’d fight and have a good time knocking the hell out of each other. Red could take some good shots. He was a fighter.

Q: Did you ever see Elvis humiliate him or hit him in public?

Wallace: No. Uh, I don’t think Elvis could hit Red. The only one who Elvis would ever hit was Charlie Hodge, He was the smallest guy. He was the one up on stage who would hand Elvis his cigar or his scarves and his glass of water—and all that stuff.

Q: In the best seller “Elvis – What Happened?” which was written by Elvis’ bodyguards and best friends Red West, Sonny West and Dave Hebler it mentions an episode where Red West picked you up and brought you and members of the Memphis mafia over to a home in Memphis to beat up on a gang that allegedly heat up Elvis’ stepbrother. Is this true?

Wallace: It sure is

Q: Did you read this particular episode of the book. Was is accurate?

Wallace: Yep, it was pretty accurate. Except the movie I was watching while all this was going on was about Kung Fu. Also, I don’t think they mentioned the fact that this guy had a 30-06 pointed at US the whole time. This guy was really scared and shaking so I just continued watching the movie. I tried to low-key myself but I realized that what would be, would be. They’ve finally talked it out and nothing happened. As it turned out, we discovered that it was Elvis’ brother who was really at fault. He started the whole thing because he tried to take this guys girlfriend away from him. He actually picked on a whole motorcycle gang!

Q: What did you say to Red West when it was all over?

Wallace: I just told him to never get me in a situation like that again.

Q: In 1974, when Mike Anderson asked you to be the U.S. middleweight representative in the first World Professional Karate Championship, it is rumored that Elvis Presley, who you worked for at the time, called you and told you not to compete? Rumor also has it that Elvis offered you $10,000 not to show up … is this true?

Wallace: Yes, it is true.

Q: Who do you think was responsible for Elvis’ actions?

Wallace: Ed Parker.

Q: Are you sure about that?

Wallace: Who else could it have been? Elvis didn’t have any other connections in karate. The tournament was going to held in Los Angeles where Parker holds his Internationals.

Q: What did Elvis say after you fought anyway?

Wallace: Nothing, He just asked me as a friend not to do it before it happened.

Q: What did you tell him?

Wallace: I just told him I’m gonna. I just figured if Joe Lewis, Jeff Smith and Howard Jackson and I could do it. I go ahead and do it.

Q: What reason did he give you for his trying to take you out of it?

Wallace: He said that he didn’t think it was real Karate.

Q: Well, enough of this Elvis Presley business.

Wallace: Thank you.

Q: I am going to ask you some standard interview questions. Who are the toughest full contact fighters out now?

Wallace: In my division?

Q: Well, let’s start out in your division. We know you’re top dog; there’s no need discussing you; your record will speak for itself. You’ve never been beaten in full contact, have you?

Wallace: Not yet.

Q: How, many fights have you had?

Wallace: I’ve had about 9.

Q: Now, these are fights that are supposed to have been with top contenders, not pushovers. Is that correct?

Wallace: Yes.

Q: No one’s even given you a close run vet, have they?

Wallace: Well, I haven’t lost a round set.

Q: Who are some of the tough guys?

Wallace: Well, there’s a guy down in Florida named Steve Sheperd who is supposed to be ranked pretty high; but, l’ve never seen him fight and from what I’ve heard from other people, he won’t give me much of a fight. And then there’s a guy named Jimmy Horsely from Virginia who just got beat a couple of weeks ago. His record was like 15 and 0 until that time. But, his 15 and 0 record was a result of people who had never fought before.

Tired after his extensive workout.

Q: Are any of the California boys hot right now?

Wallace: Well. I fought a kid named Jimmy Echolias. He was sharp, but I knocked him out in the second round. But up until that time, he was sharp. They’re trying to get me a fight right now with Burris White from Hawaii, who recently moved to the Mainland. He’s supposed to be pretty good. Blink Rodriquez – he’s tough. If he’d ever straighten up and play by the rules, he’d be good. He has good hands and can take good shots. The only problem is, he can’t kick. There is an up and comer kid from Philadelphia, Emilio Narvaez. He is only 19 years old, but has excellent skills.

Q: Any others who you know of and know could be contenders?

Wallace: There are tons of them. Its just who er gets the breaks first. Lucky part about me is I started fighting when it first started coming up. (Here, the interview was interrupted by an admiring fan requesting an autograph.)

Q: A typical day in the life of Bill Wallace. You’re admired everywhere.

Wallace: Right. (facetiously)

Q: I’m surprised there aren’t more people coming by and asking for your autograph. I guess when you go to the fights they do.

Wallace: Yeah, it feels good. I guess, you know, talking about that, I guess that’s what makes the whole day. When they don’t start asking for your autograph, that’s when you should start thinking.

Q: You’ve talked about the middle-weight division. Who are some of the heavyweight contenders?

Wallace: Ross Scott, right, is the champion. A couple of months ago, he knocked out Everett Eddy in the first round; however, Joe Lewis will always be number one to me.

Q: What’s the deal about the Hawaiian boy who is supposed to be the PKA champion?

Wallace: Oh. You mean Tony Limoz? He’s just a boxer, and not even a good one from what I understand.

Q: You wouldn’t consider him a contender?

Wallace: Hell, yeah. would have to because he hasn’t lost yet, only he hasn’t thrown a kick yet, either.

Q: What’s happened to some of the old timers?

Wallace: The aren’t fighting full contact. Full contact is funny —it’s not like a points tournament. In a point tournament, you can go out and get drunk the night before and come in still bombed out of your mind, smoke a pack of cigarettes between each match and fight and win. Now, full contact is like boxing, everybody wants to do it, everybody wants to be that top dog. But very few people want to train hard enough to do it. Like you know, you’ve boxed before and you know what I’m talking about when it actually hurts. Until hen you go out there and you start beating on this bag, when you’re dying out there and there’s no shoulder to cry on, nobody to say, you know, you’re doing great, you just go out there and it hurts, and it hurts, and it hurts until you get into condition. Well, there’s maybe one percent of the people who want to train that hard and get what they want.

Q: You and Joe Lewis have formed a fight promotion company called SUPER STARS, INC. Your intentions are to get some of the more promising full contact fighters under contract and start getting them more money for their fights, correct?

Wallace: Right. You see. most people who make 200 dollars a fight are number one. not any good to start with, and number two, too lazy to train to be able to make more than 200 dollars. It’s like boxing. That’s why they have 4 rounders, 6 rounders, 8 rounders and 10 rounders. If a guy’s in good shape, he’ll fight an 8 rounder. If the guy’s in real good shape and a real good fighter, he’ll go a ten rounder. In boxing they are rated as opponents or contenders.

Q: Correct.

Wallace: O.K. An opponent is a guy who goes out there and expects to get beat. Like if I’m fighting in Memphis, Tennessee, have an opponent because I want to beat him … I want to look good in front of my hometown group. But, if I have a contender, it could maybe go either Way. The guy’s supposed to give you a pretty good fight — in karate its the same thing. Basically, in karate though, I mean, who takes karate in the first place? In boxing, a kid is probably already a little tough. He wants to go in there and fight. But in karate, he’s the guy who‘s wants to take it to keep from getting beat up. He’s that skinny little kid and his father brings him to learn to defend himself. Number one, you’ve got to put some weight on the kid, and you gotta get him over the fear of getting hit. And then when you first start in karate, basically what happens, is you pull all your punches … so rather than getting hit to start with, the guy says, “I could’ve hurt you if I’d wanted to.” You have a false feeling of superiority or at least a false feeling of ability. Like in boxing, if I hit you with a jab and it doesn’t stop you, I’ve got something else to come. But, in karate, I throw a back fist and it hits you and it bounces off and you say I’m going to break your face this time … and the guy goes, “well, I could’ve hurt you if I’d wanted to.”

Q: Since Joe Lewis has been involved in SuperStars, I’ve personally witnessed him helping fighters under contract with techniques, strategy, and even working in their corner during a fight. For instance, he would share his boxing techniques and fighting strategy with Mark Payne and Steve Mackey in two of their recent fights. He was sharing his abilities with these boys. Is that part of the intent and purpose of SuperStars?

Wallace: Definitely. We share … it used to be in karate. Everybody would have a secret, a secret … oh, wow … there are no secrets. I never had any secrets, I just happen to be able to do it right now. And if I take the time to show you how to do it, you will be able to do the same thing. In something like this you can write out a training schedule for a particular person to achieve a particular goal and you can work with him. The fighters we have under contract with SuperStars will be able to train with each other and with me and Lewis. By training with me and training together, some of these mutual skills will rub off on one another. By letting these fighters train alongside me, they can see what it’s like to bust your ass.

Q: Bill, it’s my understanding that you will be traveling for SuperStars, Inc. throughout the country this winter holding seminars for fighters of all belts. Are you looking forward to doing that?

Wallace: Definitely. I like working with people and I anticipate being able to travel to enough cities where all of the novices as well as the experienced fighters will be able to benefit from my seminars.

Q: When did you start karate? A: 1966. Q: Why?

Wallace: I didn’t have anything else to do. I was wrestling and playing judo and I hurt my knee and needed something to do that wouldn’t strain it.

Q: Style?

Wallace: Shorinryu-Okinawa

Q: Is that style known for it’s kicks?

A: No … ironically, the system does not have a kick above the stomach … but, I was flexible enough when I started fighting that I as able to kick people in the face. I said, “well, why not?”

Q: Were you a tournament competitor before you made your black belt?

Wallace: Yes. As a brown belt, I fought in three tournaments. I took second in one and third in another.

Q: Have you performed Kata? If so, what were the results?

Wallace: Yes. Four or five times and I have a second and third place victory.

Q: Who did you come up under?

Wallace: Michael Jeneck and George Torbett from San Bernadino, California. I basically attribute my rise to fame to Glen Keeney.

Q: Do you have anything you would like to change about karate.

Wallace: Tons of things. Number one, I’d get everybody under one association … get everyone working together—some type of unification—and then under that unification they could have their own little differences, their own different style systems.
The reason some people oppose full contact karate at this time is simply because they don’t understand it, and because it kind of makes them look bad. For years and years we’ve been teaching our students that a reverse punch is the most powerful punch in the world. Then all of a sudden, this boxer comes along, takes your full power reverse punch and takes your face off with a left hook. And that back fist that’s supposed to be quick and snake-like does absolutely nothing to the person who knows what he’s doing. And the kicks that are supposed to have all of that power in them all of a sudden start bouncing off. I think we need to regroup and learn how to develop and maximize our power. Just throwing a kick is not enough. You gotta know where to hit with that kick and most people aren’t teaching their students how to achieve this.
Instructors don’t teach training to withstand another’s blows, either. This is what I’d like to see. I want martial artists to become more than just kickers and punchers. I want them to become specimens so they can withstand abuse as well as give it out. It’s no good being able to give out all of that and not being able to take it. It’s like Everett Eddy, who was supposed to be the baddest dude in full contact when it came. All of a sudden, everybody found out that he couldn’t take a punch. And now he’s nothing. You might call him a patsy. You fight him and you think “oh, good, I get to fight this big guy. That scares the hell out of you,” till you hit him and knock him down.

Q: Is there anything about the full contact rules system or scoring system that you would like to see modified?

Wallace: I just think there should be more kicking involved in it.

Q: Now, Bill, is this because you’ll’ the best kicker in the world?

Wallace: No. Let’s look at it this way. Now, Mike, you’re a boxer—an ex-boxer, and a very good one. Mow many boxers have you seen right now who could take probably the best karate men and knock them out in less than 3 rounds?
See, you can teach a boxer to throw six front kicks in thirty seconds, and then he would have 2 and one-half minutes to knock you out. For the sport to become aesthetically appealing, you have to have a lot of kicking and that’s why I get paid as much as I do to fight. Spectators like to see people get kicked in the face. They feel that’s where karate’s at. It’s not punching a guy 15 times, but it’s the kicking that’s spectacular because this is something they can’t do. You know, I can punch him in the face or I can kick him in the face, but I feel that kicking is much more appealing. And I think the spectators feel the same way. They deserve a good show. I feel your magazine will motivate fighters to proceed in this direction and give young fighters knowledge through boxing techniques, judo techniques, and kicking techniques to make pro-karate a sensational, high-paying sport. Seminars promoted by SuperStars, Inc., we hope, will improve the technical proficiency of the full and non-contact karate competitors to a point where their overall performance will really be that of a professional. This is what we must do first, before our sport can get the recognition and sponsorship we dream about and hope for. There is no fairy godmother for professionals.


World Martial arts journal
This article appeared inside the spring issue of The World Martial Arts Journal in 1978. It was the successor to Professional Karate magazine, both published by Mike Anderson.