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Skill and Character

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Submitted by: Leo T. Fong

Watch the Interview
Boxing trainers have always had my respect and admiration. During my amateur boxing career in college, there were many great trainers; Jack Blackburn, Eddie Futch, Whitey Bimstein, Ray Arcel, Charlie Goldman, just to name a few, but my favorite was Cus D’ Amato, who turned Floyd Patterson, Jose Torres and of course Mike Tyson into champions. Cus D’ Amato was not only a boxing trainer; he was a self-style “Life Coach”. He had a lot of theories about success in and out of the ring.

He believed that character and boxing skills were related. He once said, “If you don’t have character, you compromise skill.” Mike Tyson is a good example of what his mentor Cus D’ Amato was talking about. When Cus died, it seems Iron Mike’s world unraveled.

Art of Pressure Point Boxing
Many in the martial arts community feel that ego and nastiness are championship qualities. When I was younger, I bought into the myth that you had to be mean to win. When I got older, I realized the key to winning required strategy. You cannot win on anger and emotions alone. One of the things I learned from reading and watching the two fights between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney was the contrast, not only in styles, but also in attitudes. Jack Dempsey was a “killer” in the ring, Gene Tunney, was a strategist, who prefers to out think his opponent.

On those two nights, the will and the skill to win prevailed. The dictionary defines character as “distinguishing qualities in an individual often superior and praiseworthy.” Fighting is the art of expression.

You cannot express freely if the character is flawed. It is my feeling that integrity is the key to removing the inner impediment. It was Don Galer who said, “Integrity is what we do, what we say, and what we say we do.”


Pictures (Group) Leo Fong with the Univ. of Penn Kempo ClubPictures (Group) Leo Fong with the Univ. of Penn Kempo Club
I want to take this opportunity to “Thank” the University of Pennsylvania Kempo Karate Club for a wonderful and productive weekend (Oct. 14-15) Thanks to the three Daves for being great hosts, picking me up at the hotel and taking me to the airport.

“Skill and Character” are excerpts from an upcoming book and DVD by Leo T. Fong. For additional information for seminars, books and DVD’s contact Leo T. Fong at

About the writer: Leo Fong
Leo Fong was born in Canton, China. He migrated to the United States with his parents at the age of 5, and settled in Widener, Arkansas. He is a graduate of Forrest City, High School, Hendrix College - Conway, Arkansas, Southern Methodist University - Dallas Texas, and California State University - Sacramento, California. Among his teachers are: Angel Cabales, Bruce Lee, James Y. Lee, Chong Yuk Yong, Remy Presas, Low Bun, and T. Y. Wong. He has synthesized the various systems he learned into his own approach which he calls Wei Kuen Do - " The Way of the Integrated Fist ". He holds Black Belts in Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and Arnis. In 1996 Dillman's Karate Institute International honored him with a 10th Degree Black Belt. Leo Fong is a World Black Belt Living Legend.

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For two decades Bob Wall was a force on the tournament circuit placing 1st or 2nd in every major karate championship from 1965 to 1972. Mr. Wall was also a member of the legendary quintet of Chuck Norris, Mike Stone, Joe Lewis, and Skipper Mullins sweeping the world professional titles for 1970, 71, & 72.

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