Actor Jim Kelly passed away at the age of 67 on Saturday due to a battle with cancer. His ex-wife, Marilyn Dishman, confirmed the devastating news.
Thousands of people around the world are now looking back at the life of the beloved martial arts guru. He worked in nearly a dozen films throughout the 1970s and was most notably recognized for his role in Enter the Dragon.
Kelly was very dedicated to his craft and he worked with the best in the business. Bruce Lee is considerably the most respected martial artist of all-time and Kelly was right next to the legend in the 1973 action film.
Before his passing, Kelly always spoke with the up-most respect for Lee and how his experiences made him a better martial artist.
During a 2010 interview with salon.com, Kelly explained how much he loved working with Bruce Lee.
“It was one of the best experiences in my life,” actor Jim Kelly told salon.com about Enter the Dragon. “Bruce was just incredible, absolutely fantastic. I learned so much from working with him. I probably enjoyed working with Bruce more than anyone else I’d ever worked with in movies because we were both martial artists. And he was a great, great martial artist. It was very good.”
Anything starring Bruce Lee became an instant hit, but Kelly was also praised for his role as Williams in the film. The “bad-ass” karate expert with an Afro made an impression on viewers that will always be remembered.
He was also a natural athlete who played sports throughout his life. From college football to professional tennis, Kelly never shied away from any opportunity.
He began studying martial arts in 1964 which led him to California to get his black belt. He eventually began starring in action flicks before getting his big break with Enter the Dragon.
At the age of 67, actor Jim Kelly passed away at his home in San Diego after a battle with cancer.