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JOE LEWIS – The Gym: Combat Sports & Fitness


L to R - Michael Bussey, Dr. Jerry Beasley, Bill Wallace, Fumio Demura, Joe Lewis

Full-contact legend and Black Belt’s 1975 Competitor of the Year Joe Lewis is in the middle of the most serious battle he’s ever fought. Early last month, he was diagnosed with a malignant tumor. Doctors told him that if he did nothing, he’d have six to eight weeks to live. On July 18, surgeons removed the tumor. “He had the best doctors, and they think they did a good job of getting it all out,” said Dennis Nackord, Lewis’ senior black belt. 

Always the fighter, Joe Lewis is sticking by his plan to teach at the 12th Annual Joe Lewis Research Conference in Tampa, Florida, which runs from October 6 to October 9. That’s about a week after the radiation treatment is supposed to end.

“Right now, Joe is physically fine, and there are no mental changes I can see,” Nackord said. “His biggest complaint is he has trouble sleeping—he’s able to sleep only two to three hours at a time because of his medications.” 

Always the optimist, Lewis is viewing the illness as a life-changing event. Nackord said. “People all over the world know that while Joe is sick, he doesn’t have an income, so they’re joining Joe Lewis Fighting Systems ( and gaining access to a wealth of knowledge. They’re also organizing fundraisers, and Joe is very appreciative of that.” 

Martial artists who want to make a donation for medical expenses or send a get-well card can write to Joe Lewis, c/o The Nackord Karate System, P.O. Box 1506, Southeastern, PA 19399. Or they can visit

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