Here’s a champion whose techniques are as smashing as her looks. So don’t let her beauty fool you. Underneath lies the beastly competitive heart that characterizes great fighters and great champions. At 24, Lori Lantrip stands close to the pinnacle of her career: she’s America’s premier lightweight fighter and the top woman hard-style forms champion in the country. Her All-American good looks to the contrary, she made her mark the old-fashioned way — she earned it, especially as a fighter where, during her rise to prominence, she’s sustained a few broken bones and a concussion. In fact, Lantrip sees her beauty as a handicap. “Opponents would look at me and say, ‘You’ve got to be kidding! She can’t be a fighter!’ ”
For some, that observation was a gross miscalculation. According to Houston’s Larry Ritchie, who’s officiated several of Lantrip’s bouts, “You can get hurt worse just refereeing one of her matches than you can competing in black belt fighting.” Lantrip began practicing judo at the age of five under her father and switched to karate in the mid-1970s. Not long after came her turning point. “In 1980,” she explains, “when I got my black belt, I made a decision one day, at the last minute, to fight in a tournament. I even had to borrow sparring equipment. By the beginning of 1982, I was nationally ranked.” And she’s been ranked among America’s top ten fighters ever since.
Lantrip’s proudest achievement was fighting on national cable-TV (ESPN) at the Battle of Atlanta in 1983. “It was one of my major goals in life at the time,” she says. “Once I achieved that goal I had to create new ones; I didn’t know where I was going after that.” But rise she did. The following year, 1984, she became one of the few females in history to appear on the cover of a national martial arts publication (Karate Illustrated). Lori’s father, Jim, a veteran judoka and karate instructor, was a career military man in the U.S. Air Force. Hence, Lori, as well as her brother, Mike, and mother, Liz, have traveled and lived practically throughout the world including Japan and the Philippines. They finally settled in Madisonville, Kentucky, where they run the only commercial martial arts school in town. Jim is also the Hopkins County deputy sheriff. With Lantrip’s military and law enforcement heritage, it’s easy to see where she get her fighting spirit. Lori is the idol of the young girls who take lessons at the Lantrip Karate Studio. “They try to walk and talk like me,” she told a newspaper reporter. Said one mother, “It took me three days to get the Lori out of my daughter.” Looking at Lantrip’s achievements, The Fighter thinks there should be more Lori in more daughters, for, in the martial arts, it would be difficult to find a better role model.
Shortly after this article was published in summer of 1987 Lori Lantrip was appointed to the US-American team for pointfighting to compete at the WAKO World Championships in Munich In October 1987. Lori won gold in her division by beating Germany’s Gerda Mack in the final fight inside the Olympic Hall. In 1990 she represented the USA again at the World Championships in Mestre, Italy where she claimed a silver medal.