Billy Blanks is a world karate champion, actor, author, motivator, philanthropist and humanitarian.
Billy was born to Isaac and Mabeline Blanks, the fourth of 15 children and he grew up on the streets of Erie, Pennsylvania with few opportunities to succeed. Billy was afflicted with undiagnosed dyslexia and suffered a problem in his hip joints, which impaired his movement, resulting in a clumsiness that caused his coaches to think he would never be sucessful in sports.
Billy took his first martial arts class at age 11 and soon began to master the sport and himself. In 1975 he became the first Amateur Athletic Union Champion, a title he would earn five different times. Billy rose through the ranks to become a seventh-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and he also earned black belts in five other styles of martial arts. He is a seven-time world karate champion, who captained the U.S. karate team, won 36 gold medals in international competition and earned admission to the Karate Hall of Fame in 1982. In 1984, Billy Blanks became the Massachusetts Golden Gloves Champion and the Tri-State Golden Gloves Champion of Champions.
Billy moved to Boston as an adult and opened his own karate studio. It was there that he combined Tae Kwon Do with dance moves and he unintentionally hit upon the concept for Tae Bo. Billy moved to Los Angeles in 1989 and taught classes in his garage. Shortly after, he opened the Billy Blanks World Training Center in Sherman Oaks.
The early day brought clients by word of mouth, but when singer-dancer Paula Abdul choose to study with Billy, the dramatic benefits of Tae Bo became quickly apparent and the business took off as more celebrities like Charlotte Ross of “NYPD Blue”, Melissa Reeves of “Days of our Lives”, actress Alicia Coppola, actor and country music star Scott Reeves, Stephanie La Grossa of “Survivor”, Kendra Todd of “The Apprentice”, actor Lou Diamond Phillips, Trista and Ryan Sutter from “The Bachelorette”, and former Philadelphia Eagles star Randall Cunningham began reaping the benefits of Tae Bo and BootCamp. Lou Diamond Phillips says that he gets cut more quickly in Billy’s classes: “I have not seen faster results than through Tae Bo or Boot Camp.”
Countless other celebrities are also believers, including Pamela Anderson, Justine Bateman, Catherine Bell, Valerie Bertinelli, Neve Campbell, Rae Dawn Chong, Rebecca De Mornay, Farrah Fawcett, Viveca Fox, Goldie Hawn, Queen Latifah, Emmanuel Lewis, Ryan O’Neal, Lisa Rinna, Lela Rochon, Jack Scalia, Connie Selleca, Brooke Shields, Sinbad and Shannon Tweed. Athletes wanting to stay in top physical shape also work out at the studio, including Wayne Gretzky, Bruce Jenner, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal. During his rise as a fitness expert and physical trainer to the stars, Billy also built his own acting career. He has made appearances in 18 movies, including Kiss the Girls, The Last Boy Scout, Bloodfist, Lionheart, Talons of the Eagle, Back in Action, Stand Alone, Balance of Power and The King of the Kickboxers. On television, Billy has been seen in such episodic shows as “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” “The Parkers,” “Suddenly Susan,” “ER,” “Melrose Place,” “Martial Law,” “Street Justice” and “Spenser: For Hire.”
Billy’s top priority is been helping others and he and his wife, Gayle, started The Billy Blanks Foundation in 1999. The foundation is dedicated to equipping high-risk individuals with life skills that will allow them to reach their maximum potential. He frequently travels with members of his family, including daughter Shellie, hoping to integrate cross-gender, generational, and racial messages into their appearances at training camps and hotspots worldwide. Billy’s work with the military has included trips with his daughter to Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sarajevo, Greece, Africa, Germany and Italy, to work with members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Billy Blanks is the creator of Tae Bo, the revolutionary total body fitness system that has helped millions of people around the world get in shape and feel great!
Billy is out of bed by 5:30 a.m., and he teaches at least two Tae Bo classes and a few martial arts classes each day at his studio in Los Angeles. He and his teenage sweetheart Gayle, co-founder of the Billy Blanks Foundation, have of two children, Shellie and Billy Jr.