FIGHTBOOK

For­mer kick­box­ing champ Lou keglia is proof of the power of mar­tial artsK The story of how he went from fight­ing to pro­mot­ing MMA to teach­ing kids is in­spi­ra­tionalK

Black Belt - - CONTENTS - By Fred Vallejo

Brook­lyn-born Neglia de­vel ϐ # Ǥ ǡ - Ǥ Ǥ Dz ǡ ϐ ǡdz Ǥ Dz ǡ ϐ ǡ ϐ Ǥ

That was some­thing I’d never seen.

ǡ ϐ showed great dis­ci­pline and had such re­spect for each other, and I was im­me­di­ately hooked.”

From then on, Lou Neglia’s life would for­ever be in­ter­twined with mar­tial arts.

HE STARTED TRAIN­ING in kick­box­ing and de­vel­oped quickly in the con­tact sport. Rack­ing up win af­ter win, he built such an im­pres­sive record that he earned him­self a ti­tle shot in 1980. Neglia would chal­lenge John “Cyclone” Flood for his world kick­box­ing ti­tle at Madi­son Square Gar­den in New York.

It was the op­por­tu­nity Neglia was Ǥ ϐ A game, but in terms of dis­ci­pline and tenac­ity, Neglia was miles ahead. He wound up win­ning by KO thanks to a round­house kick.

With thou­sands of home­town fans in the au­di­ence, the ex­pe­ri­ence was one Neglia would never for­get. “It was the most over­whelm­ing feel­ing I ever had,” he said. “You couldn’t pay me mil­lions of dol­lars to give up that mo­ment. It was proof that through hard work, ded­i­ca­tion and the dis­ci­pline I learned from mar­tial arts, I was able to achieve a great [thing].”

Af­ter com­pil­ing a record of 34-2, he re­tired from pro­fes­sional kick­box­ing in 1985. His mar­tial arts story didn’t end there, how­ever.

AF­TER RE­TIRE­MENT, the champ opened the Louis Neglia Mar­tial Arts Academy in Brook­lyn, New York, and it’s still in business. Neglia be­lieves his suc­cess has stemmed from the way he fol­lows the philoso­phies of Ǥ Dz # ϐ get knocked down, you have to get up again,” he ex­plained. “There is such a ϐ Ǥ You be­come who you are when you’re ϐ ǡ it shows when you com­pete. We all get knocked down. It’s not about get­ting up — it’s about how fast you get up.”

That’s just one of the mes­sages Neglia teaches to the young mar­tial artists who at­tend his academy. He said his main goal is to help them be­come bet­ter peo­ple and pro­duc­tive mem­bers of their com­mu­nity. “Kids at my school have to do one chore but not only one chore — one that they don’t like,” he ex­plained. “The goal is to show them that their par­ents aren’t their per ϐ # min­utes to help around the house. I want them to see that they can’t pay their par­ents back for what they do for them, but they can show re­spect.”

The vibe at Neglia’s dojo is that great things can be ac­com­plished through mar­tial arts train­ing. He be­lieves that the world would be a bet­ter place if ev­ery­one fol­lowed what the arts teach. “Life throws curves that peo­ple go through ev­ery day, and they need a way to re­lease that stress,” he said.

It’s some­thing Neglia was re­minded of yet again in Septem­ber 2016 when his mother passed away. On hear­ing the news, he was dev­as­tated but felt com­pelled to stay strong for the ben ϐ Ȅ his chil­dren. He ended up spend­ing hours hit­ting the heavy bag, and the work­outs served as a stress-re­lease mech­a­nism, one that helped him cope.

“This is again where mar­tial arts can be­come a pos­i­tive part of daily life,” Neglia said. “You can re­lieve stress, lose weight, live a health­ier life.” And that’s pre­cisely why he’s vowed to con­tinue to spread mar­tial arts to all who are re­cep­tive.

IN RE­CENT YEARS, Neglia has man­aged to cre­ate an­other ca­reer in the ǡ ϐ Ǥ he’s not oc­cu­pied at his academy, he op­er­ates Ring of Com­bat, a re­gional MMA pro­mo­tion that’s re­garded as one of the top 10 in the world. The no­to­ri­ety comes from that fact that ROC has groomed more than 100 mixed mar­tial artists who sub­se­quently en­tered the

Ǥ ǯ ϐ much buzz in the MMA world that UFC

ϐ ǯ show in his hit YouTube series Lookin for a Fight. Right after­ward, White re­cruited then-ROC wel­ter­weight champ Randy “Rude Boy” Brown to the UFC. Since then, two other ROC cham­pi­ons have got­ten the call to join the UFC.

Per­haps most im­pres­sive is that Neglia built ROC from the ground up Ȅ ϐ Ǥ While other MMA pro­mo­tions have fallen by the way­side, Ring of Com­bat con­tin­ues to grow. He now pro­motes eight pro­fes­sional and four ama­teur shows a year.

“I am a bet­ter pro­moter be­cause of the work ethic I de­vel­oped through train­ing,” he said. “Mar­tial arts help you in so many as­pects in life.”

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THE MAR­TIAL ARTS are also what con­tinue to drive Neglia. “By teach­ing and pro­mot­ing them and en­abling this new ta­lent in the ROC to pur­sue their pas­sion — there’s noth­ing bet­ter,” he Ǥ Dz ϐ pur­su­ing their pas­sion. By pur­su­ing your pas­sion and fol­low­ing the mar­tial arts code, you be­come a bet­ter per­son in life.”

The best thing about Lou Neglia is he read­ily ad­mits that most of his achieve­ments — his kick­box­ing ti­tles, his movie roles, his suc­cess­ful mar­tial arts school and Ring of Com­bat — stem from his early mar­tial arts train­ing. “It doesn’t mat­ter how long you spend on earth or how much money you have re­ceived — it’s the amount of pos­i­tive vi­bra­tions you ra­di­ate to peo­ple through life that mat­ters,” he said. “Through mar­tial arts, I feel I’ve ra­di­ated pos­i­tive vibes to peo­ple I’ve had the plea­sure to work with: peo­ple get­ting off drugs, peo­ple [try­ing to be] bet­ter par­ents, bet­ter hus­bands and bet­ter wives.

“I al­ways felt that the pur­pose of life is [to live] a life of pur­pose, and that’s what I have been con­cen­trat­ing on and will con­tinue to do.”

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