The phrase of ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ applies to millions of people in multiple walks of life, however with one unique individual, the familiar term is inverted in a manner that is beyond extraordinary.
On June 20, 1986, the world welcomed this individual as mixed martial artist/Guinness World record holder/author/mathematician Keith Liddell made his arrival into the human race. A master of all trades isn’t simply born that way, he generally has to relentlessly work at every aspect which he intends to be great at, and in Liddell’s case, this was completely accurate.
In order to develop the skills necessary to impressively wear so many hats, Liddell had to work at each one of his talents constantly, however before he could do so, he had to worry about remaining safe as well as alive in the extremely rough neighborhood where he was born and raised. Chicago, Illinois’ South Side is notoriously known as being one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in America. Each and every day before Liddell could focus his attentions on honing his talents, he had to be aware of his surroundings and eyeful for his safety while doing mundane things that other children may take for granted such walking to school, home or the gym.
“I got into boxing to fight off the gang members,” Liddell said when asked what sparked his interest in the sweet science, “the South Side was a rough neighborhood and I had to protect myself.”
Who would have thought that the intentions to protect oneself would eventually morph into holding not one but two different Guinness World records? Predicting something this unexpected is an unlikely as someone possessing all of the talents which Liddell does, however one 44 mile per hour punch and 900 contact punches in one minute later that is exactly what transpired (both Guinness World records). Could you imagine a ‘Lightning-hands’ Liddell punch striking you flush in the face; or how about a few of them in a perfectly executed combination landing to your midsection? Besides setting world records and engaging in mixed martial arts, Liddell also remains hopeful for the chance to one day compete for the U.S. in the Olympics.
“(The) motivation for the Olympics, to box, be an author and break world records all stem from the desire to succeed and from me wanting to prove to everyone that I could do it. The ‘hateration’ is unreal here (in Chicago and that provides) the fire that burns to keep wanting to get better and better,” Liddell said when asked about the source of his drive to be great.
What’s truly impressive about the exceptional athleticism which Liddell possess is that the two Olympic sports which he is hoping to receive an invitation to participate in are the 100-meter dash and marathon which are a vast contrast to his mixed martial arts background. Diversity within athletic competition isn’t anything new to the 6’2″, 200-pound world record holder who attended Chicago’s famed Simeon Career Academy. Many successful athletes have called Simeon home including likes of 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose, New Orleans Saints linebacker Martez Wilson, Duke University forward and probable 2014 NBA first round pick Jabri Parker, former NBA guard Nick Anderson and the late-great high school basketball star Ben Wilson. During Liddell’s childhood and career at Simeon he competed in a wide array of sports including boxing, track and field, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, soccer, swimming and table tennis.
On October 4, 2011 “The Tangibility of Nothingness” was published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing and Liddell could add the title of author to his already impressive and ever-growing resume. The book is an attempt to comprehend the abstractness and the environment in terms of scientific and mathematical principles which are explicated through higher intellectual ascendance and awareness. Liddell’s first published work contains 60 pages of unbelievable scientific theories which will leave readers amazed at some of the concepts provided in ink.
Slightly more than two years later to the date, on October 6, 2013 at Body Tac Karate Dojo on the South Side on Chicago, Liddell threw the 44 mph punch which earned him the Guinness World Record for the fastest punch ever thrown.
While growing up, three of Liddell’s most inspirational role models were Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Paul Robeson. When asked why Robeson was one of his idols as a kid he said “(he) was the quintessential Renaissance man.” When you think of all of the accomplishments that Liddell has already achieved and the ones that he continues to work towards, it is safe to say that he is a lot like his idol Robeson in regards to being a Renaissance man himself.
Liddell also dreams of being a stuntman in movies and television as well to go along with the long list of feats that he has already conquered. So let’s add it all up now; we have mixed martial artist, Guinness World Record holder, author, mathematician, U.S. Olympic hopeful, aspiring stuntman and oh yeah I forgot to mention possible Mensa member; how’s that for icing on the cake? Liddell was also offered a role on a ‘Survivor’-inspired spin-off titled ‘Blood vs Water’ but due to complications the opportunity was never able to come to fruition. Despite that endeavor not materializing Liddell still has more to be proud of than the average person and can also serve as inspiration to children all across the world who were raised in undesirable circumstances and neighborhoods that anything can be accomplished with the right amount of self-belief and self-determination.
One really interesting story Liddell shared with me during our conversation was that when he was a pre-teen, he would race against cars that his parents would drive. He would run up to 26 mph while someone would operate the vehicle around the same speed to see if he could cross the finish line before the motor vehicle.
In the world of journalism there are numerous opportunities to meet and talk with many fascinating individuals who have the ability to wow but without question Keith Liddell goes down in my Hall-of-Fame as one of the most intriguing and captivating people that I have ever had the chance to converse with.