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
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.”