RIP Black Belt Jones: A Tribute To Grandmaster Jim ‘The Dragon’ Kelly
Remember the cool ass black dude from the movie Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee? His name was Grandmaster Jim ‘The Dragon’ Kelly and he became a legend and inspired a generation of Black men across the world.
Last week I was shocked when I got an email and learned that Karate legend Grandmaster Jim ‘The Dragon’ Kelly passed away. Apparently the martial arts legend died in June due to complications from cancer. The email came from a long time cherished friend Grandmaster Eric ‘LIONMAN’ O’neal who was mentored by the late Grandmaster Kelly. Here is a video clip where O’neal speaks about Kelly’s influence on him as a man and a Karate Champion.
Grandmaster Eric “LIONMAN” O’Neal, a 7-Time USKA World Karate Champion and 2-time Gold Medalist, led an intimate gathering of family and friends in a moving tribute to a fellow legend – Grandmaster Jim “The Dragon” Kelly, who passed away last month from cancer. The special memorial tribute was open to the public and truly celebrated the life of a karate master and mentor, actor and beloved member of the martial arts community, featuring appearances by many of the community’s luminaries. Read the full story of the event HERE.
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of partaking in numerous conversations with Grandmaster O’neal as he recalled his storied career. One of the things I remembered most is how admirably and affectionately he spoke of Grandmaster Kelly. I want to take a moment to send my personal condolences to Grandmaster Eric O’neal and the Kelly family.