Fred “The Hammer Williamson” Honors the Memory of His Friend Jim Kelly
Fred Williamson honored his friend Jim Kelly at the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center in Leimert Park. The tribute was was hosted by GrandMaster Eric “LIONMAN” O’Neal.
It was very heartwarming to be in the company of dedicated fans, people who worked with my Father, idolized and befriended him. It was very uplifting to hear so many people tell me how much my Father impacted them in a positive manner,” expressed Sabrena Kelly-Lewis (her first time speaking in public). “I’d like to thank Grandmaster Eric O’Neal Sr., and all that was involved in my Father’s tribute, for making it such a memorable event. My Father would have been pleased. He was the first African-American martial artist to become a movie star. He lived a life above reproach and he was one of the earliest role models for the young African-American males. Considering all that he accomplished, his legacy can not be tarnished!”
Moving remarks were also made by the community’s brightest including Bob Wall (Enter the Dragon), Fred ‘The Hammer’ Williamson (Three the Hard Way), Ernie Singleton (Former President of MCA Records), Herbert Jefferson, Jr. (Galactica 1980), Gloria Hendry (Black Belt Jones), Freda Payne (Chart-topping Singer/Actress), 5-time World Kickboxing Champion GrandMaster Robert Parham, Art Camacho, Eric Chen (Impact Stunts), Dr Frank DeGourville, and others.
“It’s an honor to celebrate a man who meant so much to so many,” said Grandmaster O’Neal. “Jim was a true talent, and he shared that talent to inspire others – not just to excel at what they do, but to excel at who they are — as human beings. He was my mentor — someone I looked up to growing up in the projects. He showed me, and so many others, that you can aspire to greatness and achieve greatness.”
Kelly was an avid competitor, winning the Middleweight title at the Long Beach International Karate Championships in 1971. From there, he caught the attention of Bruce Lee and John Saxon and brought his karate skills to films likeEnter the Dragon and many others including Black Belt Jones, The Black Samurai, Three The Hard Way and The Tattoo Connection. Kelly was also a professionally ranked tennis player and coach. In 2004, he starred with LeBron James in a Nike commercial.
The official Jim Kelly Banner for the event was designed by Ryan Benjamin
For more information, please visit www.TheLegendofLionman.com
Additional Photos- David Kamatoy