Jim “The Dragon” Kelly is an actor, martial artist who came on the scene in the early 70s best known for his film debut as the smooth afro wearing Williams in the 1973 Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon.
Born in Paris, Kentucky, Kelly was a very good athlete in high school competing sucessfully in track and field, football and basketball.
Jim Kelly started his study of the Arts during his freshman year at the University of Louisville where he played football. He left school to study Shorin Ryu Karate. Kelly also trained in Okinawate karate under the direction of Shihan Gordon Doversola, who was an american martial arts pioneer.
Doversola was among the first karate instructors to choreograph realistic fight scenes for movies and tv. Jim Kelly won the Huntington Beach Classic and credits Doversola with making him a world class fighter.
In 1971 Jim Kelly won the International Middleweight Karate Championship. He later opened his own dojo.
As an actor Jim Kelly’s acting in Enter the Dragon led to starring roles in a string of martial themed blaxploitation films such as Melinda and Black Belt Jones.
He later earned a 3 picture contract with Warner Brothers and starred in 3 The Hard Way with Jim Brown and Fred Williamson and the film Hot Potato in which he saves a diplomat’s daughter from the jungle of Thailand.
Today Jim Kelly resides in South California and works as a professional tennis coach. He is still a popular draw at conventions such as the 2009 San Diego Comic Con International.