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Oakwood man fights for a cause and history

Training for 100-man Kumite event began in January

POSTED: June 29, 2014 1:00 a.m.

100-man fight


Dee Lee, left, absorbs a kick from Kelly Leo. Lee was one of 20 people Leo fought Saturday as part of the 100-Man Kumite.

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History was made Saturday as Kelly Leo completed a grueling tournament designed to challenge both body and mind.

“One round, and take everybody out,” he joked as those competing lined up behind him in the gym at Mulberry Creek Park & Community Center in Flowery Branch.

Leo had asked his friends, students and training partners to fight against him in a 100-Man Kumite event. Kumite is a form of karate training, with the 100-man version being an extreme competition. The fight consists of 100 matches, lasting 90 seconds each.

“Basically, it’s traditional Japanese full-contact rules,” he explained. “There’s no punching to the face. You can meet in the face and head, kick to the head, but you punch basically from the neck down.”

There was only a 10-15 second downtime between each round; Leo took slightly longer breaks every 20 matches or so.

According to Leo, this is the first 100-man Kumite match in the United States. That could not be independently verified, though Wikipedia’s entry for 100-man Kumite does not show any from America.

Along with his wife Trisha, Leo owns Full Throttle Fitness in Oakwood. The 43-year-old said he’s been training in martial arts for around 30 years.

“I started with taekwondo, then switched over to Shotokan karate,” he explained. “I fought, professional kickboxing for a K1 organization ... I’ve done a bunch of different things.”

Leo began training in January for Saturday’s event. Along with striking his opponents — while deflecting their punches and kicks — he had to contend with the grueling factor of being on his feet and moving around for nearly four hours straight.

“I train ... roughly around three hours a day, in a couple of different sessions,” he said. “I do a couple of 90-minute sessions twice a day, three or four days a week. Other days, it’ll be kind of an easier workout, like long running.”

Funds raised via ticket and souvenir sales Saturday will go to epilepsy research.

“My brother, we lost him in 2000,” Leo said. “He had a surgery done to try and correct it. He was good for almost a year, and then almost a year to date, he had a real grand mal seizure, and he passed away in the middle of the night.

“I kind of want to do something to give back to him, because he was always there for me growing up, cheering for me.”

He had not chosen a specific organization yet, but was considering donating to the Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia.

The event began at 11 a.m.; the 100th round, against wife Trisha, was held around 3 p.m. The two shared an emotional hug as the buzzer rang.

“Anybody who’s ever done this, they always hit a wall at some point,” Leo said. “Basically, they’re getting beat up for several rounds. You can’t sustain that pace for every (match).”


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