Owner of Sidekick Karate and brother win major award

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 24, 2018

Ricky and Randy Smith, owners of SideKick Karate of Salisbury, received the Joe Lewis Eternal Warrior Award in Atlanta on June 14, at the Battle of Atlanta 50-year anniversary karate tournament.

The inductees were selected from this 50-year span of sport karate history by promoter Joe Corley, along with martial art icons Bill Wallace and Jeff Smith. The reunion and banquet, called The Gathering of World Changers, included karate and kickboxing champions who helped change the history of the sport.

“These are the world changers of our sport,” says Joe Corley. “They were the fighters willing to go one more round.”

Ricky and Randy, named The Gold Dust Twins by Karate Illustrated Magazine in 1977, fought and won the first tag-team championship in kickboxing history in 1977. They defended their title in 1978 remaining undefeated. Ricky and Randy were also on a five-man kickboxing team called The Charlotte Warhawks, which defeated every team that challenged them until they retired undefeated in 1978.

Ricky was also individually ranked 10th in the world and third in the United States with a record of 10 wins and two losses by The World Journal Martial Arts Magazine in 1978.

The award is named after Joe Lewis, a native of Knightdale, who passed away with a brain tumor on Aug. 31, 2012. Joe was the best fighter in the history of the sport of kickboxing voted by his peers such as karate champion Chuck Norris, star of TV series “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

Lewis was the first to fight a kickboxing match in 1970 against Greg Baines, which earned him the title Father of Kickboxing. “He paved the way for all of us who fought,” said Randy Smith. “He was the result of MMA today.” Ricky and Randy trained with Lewis and earned their fifth degree black belts under his American Karate Systems.

Ricky, known as Flash, and Randy, known as The Bullet, received their awards from Bill “Superfoot” Wallace, PKA middle weight champion, and Jeff “The DC Bomber” Smith, PKA light heavy weight champion, two of the best kickboxers in the history of martial arts, who began their infamous careers airing on ABC’s Wide World of Entertainment in 1974.

Corley commended the twins on stage for their life-changing contribution to the sport. “This is the most coveted award in karate,” said Ricky Smith. “I am honored to be included with all these champions. These are martial artists that I grew up reading about in the karate magazines. It secures our history.”

Some of the original recipients of the award are Lewis, Norris, Wallace, Smith, and Ricky and Randy’s current instructor, Jerry Piddington, founder of the American Karate Academies, from Medford, Oregon.

The twins were inducted into this group of karate and kickboxing world champions alongside their fellow Charlotte Warhawk team members, Danny “Thunderbolt” McCall from Denver, N.C., Jimmy Horsely and the late Keith Haflick from Richmond, Va.

Some of the other veteran karate champions who received this award included Pat Burleson (first point karate champion in 1964 from Azle, Texas, known as The Father of all Karate Champions); Allen Steen (known as Father of karate in Texas); Pat Johnson (with film credits such as “Karate Kid,” “Enter The Dragon,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Mortal Kombat,” from Los Angeles, Calif.); Michael DePasquale Jr. (jiu-jitsu champion and film maker from River Vale, N.J.); Stephen Hayes (American ninja master and author from Dayton, Ohio); Ray Thompson, and his son Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (UFC fighter known for his kicking and striking from Simpsonville, S.C.).

Ricky operates SideKick Karate of Salisbury, with his wife Edie, and Randy manages Lack’s Beach Service in Myrtle Beach, S.C.