Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kelly "The Lion" Leo

Over the years I've met many talented fighters. One in particular is Kelly Leo. Not only is he a great fighter, but I consider him my brother from another mother. I met Kelly in the early 90s at Doraville Boxing (now Paul Murphy Boxing gym). He and another karate fighter, Paul Cantrell (husband of deceased fighter Erin Cantrell, who I will feature in the near future), came to start their training in kickboxing. Already an accomplished tournament karate fighter, Kelly would later venture into Kickboxing, Boxing, Shidokan (MMA), and K-1 (the elite of Heavyweight Kickboxing). Kelly now resides in Gainesville, GA with his wife, Trisha "TNT" Hill, World Champion in Boxing and Kickboxing (a future blog on her coming too) and 2 beautiful daughters.  He runs Full Throttle Fitness and is a full time fitness trainer and martial arts coach to upcoming fighters. Here is an interview with "The Lion".

When did you start Martial Arts? 
I started in Martial arts in late 1985/86

What types of fighting styles have you competed in?
I have competed in Point Karate
Shidokan Karate
Thai Boxing

What made you want to kickbox?
I saw it on ESPN with Joe Corley and "Bad" Brad Hefton, Robert Harris and many other great fighters and fell in love with it.
What major events have you fought in?
Naska - National Point circuit
NBL - National Point Karate Circuit
World Shidokan Open
Chuck Norris' World Combat League
ISKA and IKF events

You hold titles in different styles of kickboxing right?

Yes I Hold the - Pro ISKA US Heavy Weight Title ( Oriental Rules)
IKF - Pro Super Hvy Weight Full Contact Rules East Coast Title
Currently Ranked #2 in the World with IKF

Who are some of the well known fighters you've competed against?

K-1 Champion Micheal McDonald
Shonnie Carter (Shidokan Triathlon Rules/Karate, Kickboxing, Grappling)
Carter Williams (K-1 Kickboxing)
Dan "Son of the Preacher Man" Ericson (World Combat League)
Derek Panza (World Combat League)
I am in negotiations for a fight with Kickboxing legend, Rick "The Jet" Roufus

Have you fought internationally (and against int'l fighters)?

Yes. I fought Tatsufumi Tomihira in K-1, Hector Monterrey in Costa Rica (Shidokan) and I fought in Sochi Russia against Anatoly Nosyrev.

How have you evolved as a martial artists and you blend traditional old school with the new school techniques?

I do blend all the different styles of what I have done to give my students a more well rounded approach to Martial Arts. I still teach the Old school basics as a foundation, then build and add to their arsenal as they grow as a martial artist.

Tell us about your dojo and the future of your martial arts style?
My Dojo- we teach Bare knuckle karate fighting techniques, Jiu Jitsu, Thai and kickboxing, Women's Kickboxing
We offer conditioning classes ( Extreme Fit) and Personal training also.
We are growing and hope to eventually have a place to hold small events to help our students grow to become the best they can.
We teach them to be respectful and confident at the same time. Commitment is huge concept in our gym, if you say you're going to do something you do it.
Help these young kids to be respectful men.
We hope to get the guys out on the national and int'l levels of fighting. ( Big Fish in the Big Pond) ;-)


  1. This is a good article! Kelly is a great person very genuine and a hard worker!

  2. Kelly's knowledge is deep. Anybody near his gym, go train with him.

  3. Kelly is one of few truly honorable warriors. I'm Blessed to be able to call Kelly a brother.