Bob Wall, Martial Arts Expert Who Fought Bruce Lee in Films, Dies at 82

Bob Wall, the charismatic martial arts expert, actor and stuntman who battled Bruce Lee in The Way of the Dragon, Enter the Dragon and Game of Death, has died. He was 82.

Wall died Sunday in Los Angeles, his family announced in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. They chose not to reveal the cause of death.

“He was a pillar of strength and inspiration to all who encountered him, and his radiant spirit and legacy will never be forgotten,” they wrote. “He was a brilliant martial artist, a never-ending source of jokes, a gifted speaker and a passionate man whose unconditional love and support were unmatched.”

A 9th degree black belt, Wall for years trained alongside good friend Chuck Norris; they first met in the mid-1960s and were business partners in a chain of karate studios. In addition to Way of the Dragon (1972), they appeared together in Code of Silence (1985), Invasion U.S.A. (1985), Firewalker (1986), Hero and the Terror (1988), Sidekicks (1992) and in episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger.

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In Enter the Dragon (1973), Lee avenges the death of his sister by easily taking care of Wall’s evil O’Hara in competition, then kills his opponent when he comes at him with a broken bottle. Lee, who insisted on authenticity in all his movie fights — real bottles were used here, Wall noted — was cut in the sequence and needed stitches.

Born on Aug. 22, 1939, in San Jose, California, Wall said his father, Ray, was an alcoholic. “He beat me often, gave me no love, but the terrific beatings toughened me up, and I know that I definitely would not be me without his beatings,” he wrote on his website in 2016.

He left home at 13 but came back three years later and “beat [his father] up real bad; he never abused anybody in the family after that,” he told stuntman Bruce Willow in a 2020 podcast interview.

Wall took up wrestling in high school, attended San Jose State on a scholarship and moved to Los Angeles, where he trained with Al Thomas, Gordon Doversola, Gene LeBell, Joe Lewis, Norris and the Machado Brothers.

Lee, who died in 1973 at age 32, made only five films after 1968, and Wall was in three of them. He said he was paid $75 a week for Way of the Dragon and $500 a week for Enter the Dragon. “It’s not the money. I said to my wife, ‘I love this kid,’” he said of Lee. “He can beat and stomp on me, I have world professional champion after my name.”

Wall also served as the fight coordinator on Black Belt Jones (1974), starring Jim Kelly — he had hired Kelly for Enter the Dragon — and appeared onscreen in Blood and Bone (2009), starring Michael Jai White.

Inducted into the Professional Karate Hall of Fame in 1975, Wall taught combat skills to the likes of Elvis Presley, Steve McQueen, Jack Palance, Brian Keith, Freddie Prinze Sr. and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He also hired Jackie Chan as a stuntman for Enter the Dragon.

He received his black belt in Tang Soo Do from Norris.

Survivors include his wife, Lillian, whom he married in 1968; children Shana, Kara, Gennine and Ron; sister-in-law Mary; grandchildren Jason and Boe; and his siblings, nieces and nephews.

Source: HollyWood

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