During the Blacksploitation era, there were plenty Black men that kicked a lot of ass at the movie theater but the Black master of martial arts was Jim Kelly, at least in my mind. He’s probably most famous for his role in Enter the Dragon but I also remember him from movies such as Black Belt Jones and Three The Hard Way among others. He has the distinction of being the first Black martial arts film star. During his heyday he became one of the most decorated athletes in the sport of Karate. His last movie, One Down, Two to Go, debuted in 1982 but by then he had already left a great impression on me.
What may not be known to most people is that he was also a professional tennis player in his later years he became a tennis coach. An athlete to the end, Jim Kelly was a pioneer and an icon. He will be missed.