Kelly began his career into 1970s superstardom after graduating from University of Louisville, Kentucky.
After winning the middleweight title at the 1971 International Karate Championships in Long Beach, California he opened his own school (dojo).
Acting alongside actors John Saxon and kung fu legend Bruce Lee in “Enter the Dragon” Kelly was introduced to big screen action films.
Displaying impressive fighting skills and a cool-cat smooth delivery as an actor, Kelly taunted the film’s villain Han with the memorable line, “Man, you’re like something out of a comic book.”
Dragon's producer Fred Weintraub had heard about Kelly's dojo in Los Angeles, and was immediately taken with the lanky star’s charisma.
His popularity landed Kelly starring roles in other so-called “blackploitation” films including “Black Belt Jones” "Black Samurai" and “Melinda”.
He earned a three-film contract with Warner Brothers and made “Three the Hard Way” with Jim Brown and Fred Williamson among many others.
After dropping out of movies in 1983, Kelly became a professional tennis coach and played on the senior tournament.
Jim was still mobbed at conventions and had attended the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con convention.
The cause of his death is as yet unknown
Died: 6/29/2013, San Diego, California, U.S.A.
Jim Kelly’s western – actor:
Take a Hard Ride – 1975 (Kashtok)