A star is born
Brooklyn-born kickboxing phenom Ross “Turbo” Levine made his first foray into the world of sport martial arts when he took up karate and taekwondo in 1994 at the tender age of seven, and needless to say, he hasn’t looked back since. Ross was inspired to follow in the footsteps of his father Charles (a former kickboxer) and his older brother Josh (who was training in taekwondo at the time), both of whom he has credited for his warrior-like spirit and determination.
The mini martial arts marvel began using weapons at the age of 10, going back and forth between tonfa and bo staff until the age of 12, when he decided to settle on the bo. He also did forms as well as point sparring, before ultimately narrowing his focus down to point sparring as an adult. Now a burly, six-foot tall middleweight competitor, he has been on countless top sport karate teams over the years and has become a top-rated point fighter and a North American Sport Karate Association (NASKA) World Rated Weapons Champion since 2004. When not training or competing, Ross has spent many hours and traveled many miles around the world teaching seminars and giving private lessons to both children and adults, with the goal of guiding his students to become the best martial artists (and the best overall people) that they can possibly be. In his own fights, Sensei Ross lives by his strongly held conviction that if you can find ways to outsmart your opponent, you can always come out on top, and he promotes this mindset to his charges.
Sport karate showstoppers
Ross was just 14 when he first met his coach, mentor, and friend, world champion bo staff and tricking master Nate Andrade (who also happens to be a talented stuntman, recently appearing in the Avengers movies). With Nate’s coaching, Ross quickly went on to earn his black belt in 2002 at the age of 15 and is now a third-degree black belt in taekwondo — but his career really kicked off when he began participating in sport karate tournaments. He credits mentor and close friend, Jadi Tention with showing him the ropes and eventually helping him snare his first national win in 2005, when at the age of 16 he walked away with the eminent Double Warrior Cup at the American Karate Association (AKA) Grand Nationals in Chicago for both weapons and sparring, the only martial artist able to do so in a single year at the time of the event. He considers his tie with martial arts legend Mike Bernardo of Canada for the most Warrior Cups (a 60 lb. trophy) won in the history of sport karate as one of his greatest achievements — both fighters won five cups each.
Ross’s status as a sport martial arts standout was solidified when he then went on to become a multiple time NASKA World Champion, World Karate Commission (WKC) World Champion, and Gold medalist at the East-West Olympics and World Organization of Martial Arts Athletes (WOMAA) World Games.
Ross takes enormous pride in winning the coveted Bronze at the World Association of Kickboxing Organization (WAKO) World Championships in 2011, claiming the medal lit a fire under him to be “faster, stronger and smarter” and ignited his desire to continue to rise to the top of his game in every competition going forward in his career. Now with three Diamond Rings (two Fighting, one Weapons) from the Diamond Nationals Karate Championships (NASKA), nine warrior cups from Chicago’s AKA Warrior Cup, two WKC Gold medals, wins from the Bristol Open and Austrian Classic divisions, as well as two Irish Open Division wins under his belt, clearly that fire has been burning strong ever since, and judging by his continued success, is still burning to this day.
Kicking things in a new direction
After a few amateur fights, the multifaceted martial arts master recently found his true calling in the realm of professional full contact kickboxing. In his first ever pro fight, he demolished his opponent by total knockout in the first round with a devastating knee to the midsection and blow to the face.
“Transitioning from sport karate to being a professional kickboxer is all about willingness to learn and adapt,” says Ross. “Every time I step on the mats I empty my cup and refill it, to develop new skills and constantly improve. If you want to be the best at something, never be the best one in the room and you’ll go far.”
Ross is now looking forward to his second full-contact pro fight next month, when he’ll fly across continents to Dubai, United Arab Emirates to go to combat in the world premiere of Knockout Night, which takes place on May 3rd, 2019. (Stay tuned for more details!)
Off on the right foot
With the spectacular success he’s found in the world of martial arts today, a solid foundation in sport karate has clearly served Ross well, and has set the stage for his successful career by instilling in him the importance of unwavering discipline and determination. A humble and down-to-earth fighter, he continually credits the guidance and inspiration he’s received over the years from his many coaches and mentors as having shaped the person he is today. He claims that if it wasn’t for these tremendously talented people in his life teaching their art to him and encouraging him to keep working hard, breaking him down and building him up again, and seeing him through life’s ups and downs countless times, he would not be the martial artist (or the person) that he is to this day — and for that he will be forever grateful.
SportMartialArts.com recently interviewed Ross as he co-hosted an SMALive episode. He gave us some insight into his new full contact career and what to expect next.