By Herb Borkland
In this inspiring monthly column, we examine the pivotal point in a prominent black belt’s career that took him or her on to major success in martial arts business, sports or films.
Five-foot-six, seveth-dan Troy “The Destroyer” Dorsey was the first American black belt to become a world champion in both kickboxing and pro boxing. He earned two world boxing crowns, four world kickboxing titles and a world karate championship.
In full-contact kickboxing, he was a three-time WAKO Amateur World Champion, as well as a gold medalist in 1985 London and 1987 Munich events.
Turning to boxing in 1989, Dorsey’s all-out high-energy fighting style captured the IBF World Featherweight and IBO World Super Featherweight Championships. He retired from the ring in 1998.
Herb Borkland: Where did you grow up, and what did your dad do?
Troy Dorsey: Mansfield, Texas, part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area. My father, Warren, was a “man of men,” and he owned a Texaco gas station.
HB: How did you first hear about martial arts?
TD: I remember the movie Enter the Dragon. Our family liked sports. I played football starting at age eight and ended up helping teach full-time. But, the big thing was, in 1974, Jim Choate opened a karate school eight doors and a hundred feet away from our gas station.
My brothers and I joined up. My middle brother Brian is one year and one day younger than me, and Rodney is three-and-a half years youngest. They were the fighters who kept winning, especially Rodney. I wasn’t a natural. My younger brothers were winning; I wasn’t, but I never wanted to quit. I’d cry when I lost. I was not mad that they won. I was crying because I lost.
HB: What was your turning point?
TD: My first kickboxing win in September 1979 inspired a lot of fire in me. I wanted to be good.
Master Choate and I bought a former Allen Steen location. I was 18, and he loaned me the money. I paid back every dime. I can’t believe all these things have happened. I lived my dreams. My parents got me started. My beautiful wife, Leslie, supported me in every way, even bought the [current] Mansfield school building for me.
I met Leslie in 1982 at a karate tournament. Beautiful, so pretty. She was fighting, and I was reffing the match. A great fighter, and not just a good-times woman. Through sad, hard, bad and good times, she has always been with me.
In 1983, I began focusing on boxing. I was working with trainer Casey Malone. A couple of the guys I trained with were world champions. My favorite boxing match was a title fight in 1991 against Jorge Paez. It opened all the doors for me because it proved I was a real fighter.
My favorite kickboxing fight? My 1992 bout with Alexi Nachaev. He knocked me down in the first round. It was only the second time I was knocked down in kickboxing. Five times I put him down, and he got back up. So, I [finally] knocked him out.
My style was to show the endurance, to be the aggressor pretty much all the time. Casey used to tell me, “If they don’t get tired of you punching them, don’t get tired of punching them.”
You know what the biggest room in the house is? The biggest room in the house is room for improvement.
TD: God perceives the greatness in every one of us. Get out in the grind and the work and do all we can to do all we can by making people’s lives better by building their confidence. Battle against drugs and alcohol. Steer young and old away from those things which ruin so many families. Give the arts all you have. But whatever you are — lawyer, ditch digger, President — do your best and don’t give up!
Herb Borkland is a veteran black belt who can be contacted at [email protected]
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