Bill Wallace retired as the undefeated Professional Karate Association (PKA) Middleweight Champion after defeating Bill Biggs in a 12-round bout in June 1980. The victory, Wallace's 23rd straight, signaled the end to an illustrious 15-year career in tournament and full contact fighting.
Bill Wallace began his martial arts training in shorin-ryu karate. It was sort of by accident that he got into karate because originally he was an exceptional judo player with a background in wrestling. He got his start in judo while in the U.S. Air Force, and in 1966 he had the misfortune of sustaining a career-ending injury at least as far as competitive judo was concerned. He completely ripped the ligaments in his right knee.
While his knee was healing, Wallace seized the opportunity to get into karate and decided to "just do it." He trained with some positive and committed people at a school in Okinawa's Naha city, and, he made short work of earning his black belt.
After his discharge from the Air Force, Wallace returned to his home state
of Indiana and enrolled at Ball State University. He later earned a
master's degree in Kinesiology at Memphis State University in Tennessee,
where he taught wrestling, weightlifting, judo and karate.
He became a hero and a celebrity in his hometown and at the university by winning one point-fighting karate championship after another. He made a national name for himself as his tournament career spanned the years from 1967 to 1973. He also trained and taught at the Memphis Karate Institute, which was co-owned by "The King" himself, Elvis Presley. Elvis often visited the school, and he and Wallace became fairly well-acquainted.
Once Wallace switched to full-contact karate, he became an even bigger name by becoming the Professional Karate Association middleweight world champion with a second-round knockout (hook kick) of West German Bernd Grothe in Los
Angeles. He won 23 consecutive professional fights between 1974 and 1980. He retired undefeated.
He was such a dominant figure in martial arts that Black Belt magazine, the
"bible" of industry publications, named him to its Hall of Fame three times in seven years -- twice as "Competitor of the Year" and once as "Man of the Year."
Described variously as a "superkicker," who grins engagingly through his matches; a strong fighter, with an extraordinary amount of stamina in a contest, and "Fast Billy," possessing uncanny kicking ability coupled with incredible speed, Wallace
was a combination tee kwon do and shorin-ryu styl-ist. He was named "Superfoot," after his manager saw an advertisement for a "super foot long hot dog" at a sporting event.
Most notable for his lightning-fast left roundhouse kick and left back hand punch, Wallace
was also very effective with his spinning wheel, side and hook kicks. And if an opponent
made the mistake to drop his guard for even a moment, Wallace moved in for
the score. Usually operating far outside his opponent's critical distance line, Wallace
was able to penetrate the distance within a fraction of a second and score with his whip-like roundhouse kick, a technique he
used about 90 percent of the time.
Despite his retirement, Wallace continues to be one of the martial arts most popular figures. He is the author of three books: Karate: Basic Concepts & Skills, Dynamic Kicking & Stretching, and The Ultimate Kick.
As well as a former member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness, Wallace also has been active in the film industry.
His credits include: "A Force of One" with Chuck Norris; "Kill Point", with Cameron Mitchell;
"Continental Divide" and "Neighbors", with John Belushi, whom he acted as trainer and bodyguard;
"Protector", with Jackie Chan; "A Prayer for the Dying", with Mickey Rourke;
"Ninja Turf" and "A sword of Heaven".
One of Bill Wallace's gifts to the martial arts world was that he taught folks how to "really kick." Known to the karate world simply as "Superfoot," symbolic of his awesome left leg, which was once clocked in excess of 60 mph, Wallace left a string of battered and bruised bodies along the martial arts fighting trail.
He used his foot as others would use their hands, faking opponents with two or three rapid fake kicks and following with one solid knockout technique. His power was amazing, his precision astounding.
He helped people become aware of what ballet dancers and gymnasts have always known - that flexibility is vital for developing good skills and for avoiding layoffs caused by pulled muscles and other injuries. He devised ways to stretch out the hamstrings, quadriceps and abductors, all of which are involved in kicking. He then developed ways to strengthen these muscle groups and created endurance exercises for them.
In a world where the smaller guy would always get run over by the bigger guy, Wallace made it possible to overcome a larger or stronger opponent - not only for himself, but for the masses who wanted to learn his secrets. One of Wallace's most noble attributes was that he freely shared the secrets of his success while still defending his world kickboxing title, and that included teaching fighters who were potential contenders
He continues to tour the planet, teaching black belts how to be better black belts, mentoring instructors to be better instructors, and motivating audience members to try a little harder, exceed their own expectations, and develop and nurture their fighting spirit.