Karate champ returns home
by Jason Collins
Aug 25, 2011 | 1723 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Professor Gary Lee demonstrates sword techniques during a karate seminar Friday afternoon at Coastal Bend College. Lee and other legends of the sport were brought to Beeville by event coordinator Billy Swinney.
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Black belt legend Gary Lee says that coming to Beeville this past weekend for the self-defense seminars was a homecoming for him.

Lee, an international karate champion, master karate teacher, Black Belt Hall of Fame inductee and historian of sport karate, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Immediately after birth, he was put up for adoption.

He was later adopted and, at age 3, came for the first time to the mainland, specifically Beeville, with his new father who was to become the chief of the fuel dump at Chase Field.

He stayed in Beeville about a year before leaving with his family to Greenville, S.C., and then to Antarctica.

“I went back to Hawaii at 7 and then I lost my parents...,” he said adding that they both died in a plane crash.

Lee would ultimately be adopted by the sensei of the dojo, or karate school, where he was training.

Now, 54 years later, Lee returned to Beeville thanks to an offer from Billy Swinney, who was hosting a karate competition, along with self-defense and karate classes Friday and Saturday taught by black belt masters Jim Harrison and Garett Lee.

“Beeville is kind of special,” Lee said. “It is so unique being here.”

Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at
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