Karate Champ Has Eye On Hollywood.


by Michael Cronk
Mercury News Staff Writer

In karate circles, Chucky Currie is known as the fastest kicker in America. That's how he got the nickname "Quick Kick". "My mother told me that when I was born, I came out kicking." the 25-year-old martial arts champion said laughing. Since he turned professional in 1978, the 5-foot-8, 165 pound middleweight has won many United Martial Arts Federation tournaments. He has won at the West Coast Nationals, the "Battle of Atlanta", and the U.S. Top 10 National Championships in Sacramento. He has also won the grand champion in weapons competition at the "Battle of Champions" in San Francisco, the fighting champion at the nationals in San Jose, and the grand champion in forms (kata) at a tournament held at the MGM Grand Hotel in Reno, Nev.

Honorable Mention
His accomplishments recently earned him an honorable mention in Karate Illustrated magazine's Hall of Fame. Since there are few challenges left for a man who's a national champion in all three competitive areas of the martial arts, Currie is looking to break into the entertainment field. He is hopeful that his kicking ability, and the agility he has acquired as a former gymnast, will make movie producers notice him. He's already landed a small part as Richard Pryor's bodyguard in the upcoming movie "Jo Jo Dancer - This is your life calling", and is working on a movie video titled "The Karate Prince".

Biggest Regret
His biggest regret is that a demonstration he was paid to do in Hawaii last year caused him to miss the opportunity for a featured roll in "The Last Dragon". A role played by 13-year-old martial artist Ernie Reyes jr. His father, Ernie Reye Sr., is a karate Hall of Famer, owner of the West Coast Institute of Tae Kwon Do in San Jose, and Currie's main sponsor. Movies influenced Currie almost from the beginning. "My father signed me up at the YMCA (in Chicago) to take karate when I was 6," he said. "At first I joked around and wasn't serious. Then Bruce Lee's movies came out and I was serious." The middle of nine children, Currie started battling from the beginning. "I remember my brother was always getting me," he said. "One morning I couldn't take it anymore. I got mad and kicked him in the face. My father was mad, but he said, 'I know you like that karate stuff.' so he signed me up. The whole family was competitive. His father and older brothers were boxers. Two other brothers were Illinois prep wrestling champions. But it was his mother, he said, who taught him his first moves. "My mother was the first black belt. When we didn't behave, out came the black belt." Currie, a fifth-degree black belt, teaches karate classes in East San Jose. But he's always on the lookout for that movie career. Being a movie star like Bruce Lee is something he believes he'd get a big kick out of.


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