When Steve Shepherd, 68, limped out of Anita’s Mexican Grill in suburban West Palm Beach one afternoon last month, he looked like the perfect mark to one thug who looked to be in his 20s.
And so as Shepherd, who recently pulled a muscle in his leg, limped toward his car, the thug bashed him in the back of the head with a bottle and demanded he hand over his cellphone.
“He hit me from behind in the eye,” Shepherd recounted afterward to local station WPTV, adding that the thug then yelled, “Give me your effing phone! Give me your effing phone!
Bad move, dude. Really bad move.
What the Thug didn’t realize at the time — and this despite Shepherd reportedly having been wearing a “5x World Champion” t-shirt — was that Shepherd is indeed a five-time world kickboxing champ who was inducted into the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame in 1982.
Just how hardcore is this guy? He’s so hardcore that he once knocked out someone who himself had knocked out legendary boxer Mike Tyson: “I was the world champion in five weight divisions. My claim to fame is I beat the guy who knocked out Mike Tyson,” Shepherd explained to WPTV.
And while he hasn’t fought professionally since 2000, that doesn’t mean he’s lost his mojo. Fighting is like riding a bike, and let’s just say Shepherd still knows how to ride like a pro.
“Still dazed from the first few blows, Shepherd said at first, he thought he accidentally picked up the attackers’ phone at the restaurant. But he quickly put the pieces together and began to fight,” The Palm Beach Post reported.
He began to fight like a champ, to be exact.
“Shepherd, who has been professionally fighting since 1975, said he threw a right cross at the man, which caused his hands to go up, leaving his abdomen wide open. Shepherd threw a right hook to his ribs and believes he broke them.”
“I hit him with what’s called a right cross as he was still coming at me,” he said to WPTV, adding that he’s certain he broke the thug’s ribs.
“And then he just crumbled right there,” he said to the Post. “I felt (his ribs) crack.”
Bystanders then reportedly broke out what they thought was a street fight. During the commotion, the injured thug managed to escape and still remained on the run as of early January.
“What he learned was he picked on the wrong guy,” Shepherd said. “I kind of feel sorry for him.”
Who wouldn’t? Wherever he’s hiding, he’s doing so with broken ribs. Ouch!
As for Shepherd, while he reportedly suffered a ruptured eardrum and small lacerations and bruising around his left eye, he’s too worried about the future to stress over what happened. He explained that he’s looking to become the oldest person to be in a professional fight come March.
“His last professional fight was in 2000,” the Post explained. “At the time, there was a law that prevented those over 50 from professionally fighting. Shepherd, a Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame member since 1982, said he actively fought against that law and it eventually was changed.”
“Maybe it’ll make people 50 and older feel a little less old and feel a little more useful,” he said of his upcoming fight in two months.
In the meantime, he’ll be busy training at KickBox-SuperFIT, a West Palm Beach gym he opened with his brother Ed Shepherd, a nutritionist and conditioning specialist.
Pro tip: don’t mess with us #kickingboxes
Despite coming out of the incident like a champ, Shepherd does have some advice for others out there, particularly those not trained in kicking butt: Be aware of your surroundings.
“It could’ve been worse. He could’ve snipped me, he could’ve shot me, you know? He could’ve had a metal bar,” he said to the Sun-Sentinel.
Regular Americans might also want to consider taking some kickboxing classes. In fact, ever since this incident occurred, there’s been an uptick in people tweeting about doing exactly that.
I think I want to take like a kickboxing class, it’s time I learn how to defend myself and put some muscles and strength in me…. & maybe pop a little booty on me ??? anyone down? Lol
— Ana Daisy (@princess_anaD) January 4, 2019
I’ve decided I want to try boxing/kickboxing. Anyone know a decent place for females to learn?
— ? (@nahfrdnt) January 4, 2019
LRT I’ve always wanted to learn boxing or kickboxing but my mom didn’t let me because she was scared of me getting hurt
MOM IM NOT FRAIL and I want to be able to kickass!!
— Leanne (ﾉ´ヮ´)ﾉ 2019 ･ﾟ✧ (@leannezzers) January 4, 2019
I’m a few days late but in 2019 I’d like to:
-Learn how to knit properly.
-Get better at Tunisian crochet.
-Find a new/local kickboxing class.
-Finish 52 books.
-Start and complete my ’52 Lists for Happiness’ journal.
— ashley s. (@_ashleyluxe) January 4, 2019
Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not …
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