Richard Turner Q&A
YOU’VE OBVIOUSLY EXPERIENCED A GREAT DEAL OF SUCCESS IN YOUR LIFE. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT, AND WHY?
My karate 10 black belt fights. My karate instructor was Master John Murphy. Murphy took me from a scrawny, 110-pound, asthma-ridden (at that time only a) legally blind wimp, to a Master sixth-degree black belt. Sensei Murphy wanted his testing to be the most difficult in the world. To earn a black belt under this crazy man Murphy, you had to fight a ten, three-minute round bout with a fresh black belt each round. Sensei Murphy did not want to deal with lawsuits. So most of the training and testing took place across the border in Tijuana.
One year at the Tijuana Forum, I was one of three people who backed the great Chuck Norris in a showdown against a group calling themselves, “The Black Federation. I was by far the weakest fighter and hoped the confrontation did not escalate. Fortunately for me after one stern look from the master Chuck Norris, the Federation back down and left. When I first started karate my initial fear was getting smashed in the face from a kick I couldn’t see coming. In the early years fear alone could trigger an asthma attack, and you can’t fight if you can’t breathe.
When I could still see amorphous shapes my karate instructor would tell me, never advertise your weaknesses. Don’t let them know all you see is a big blurry blob. stare your opponents down as if you can see them, and bulldoze right through them, Turn your weaknesses into strengths. The master marshal artist Bruce Lee said, “There are no limits. There are plateaus. But you must not stay there. You must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you!” I like that, “If it kills you , it kills you.” I realized if I was ever going to survive ten three minute rounds I had to learn to over come the paralyzing effects of fear. Like they say on the old TV show That’s Incredible, don’t try this at home.
I started climbing thousand foot cliffs without equipment. I learned to swing on the trapeze, take high falls, tightrope around the rim of high buildings and hunted sharks. I know, your thinking, is he crazy or is it just a touch of insanity. Sinsei Murphy also said, you need to have a body of steel! I flashed back to my childhood memories of Charlton Heston as Ben-Hur chained to the ship, pulling the oars with his big-bulging biceps. That image of strength always encouraged me to take my little toothpick arms and turn them into bulging popsickle sticks. Murphy pushed me to the point of being able to do 500 push-ups in 12 minutes 9 seconds. Many times one push up from losing my lunch.
When I was getting ready to top out at 340 pounds on the bench press I asked if I could just turn around and do a push up and like Chuck Norris say I bench pressed the earth? Murphy did not buy that idea. I had to bench the 340 pounds. Sensei Murphy would play wishbone with my legs. My legs would be stretched across two chairs into the splits and my nose pushed to the floor. It took 13 years and 3 months of hard training and lots of self denial before I was ready to take on the ten fighters. The pressure was on me big time. Because of my card notoriety the TV and print media were there, including ABC and one of the largest papers in the country, the Los Angeles Times. Murphy said, “Relax. All you have to do is come out alive with spirit.” I asked, “Exactly what does that mean, alive with spirit?” He said, “Even if your teeth have been punched down your throat, you’re still smiling.”
During the test I hit some of these guys so hard that I knocked them silly, but they were fresh and after a few rounds I was not. When it was all said and done, I had one bruise that started at my head and ended at my toes. I had a smashed bloody nose, a ruptured right eardrum, I had my groin kicked into my throat and, I fought the last three and a half rounds with a broken right arm. But I earned my black belt, and the next day the whole bloody mess was spread across the front page of the Los Angeles Times sports section.
Watch here, 10 Black Belt Fights, Richard Getting the Crap Kicked out of Him
LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, LIFE IS NOT ALWAYS SMOOTH. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT A SETBACK OR TRAGEDY YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED, HOW YOU DEALT WITH IT, AND THE IMPACT IT HAS HAD ON YOU?
The first time I was going to be on the Penn & Teller’s TV show called “Fool Us” I went to the Rio Casino gym and my thumb was crushed in one of the weight machines. I ended up in surgery and refused to be put out because if this was the end of my card dealing career I wanted to be conscious encase the surgery did not work.
Here is the video of the surgery but it is kind of graphic. Crushed Dealing Thumb Feature “(Warning Very Graphic)”
DO YOU SET ASIDE “ME-TIME” IN YOUR CALENDAR, AND WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME TO RELAX?
I do not like to relax. Relaxing is not relaxing to me. It is like punishment! Give me a deck of cards and 14 hours and let me practice.
WHAT’S THE MOST MAGICAL PLACE YOU’VE DISCOVERED WHERE YOU CAN GO TO CHILL OUT?
Costa Rica fishing for big game. We hooked seven 7 foot sailfish, one 9 foot Marlin and two 4 foot Mahi Mahi.
Richard Feeding a Million dollar Thumb to a 7 Foot Sailfish
DOES PHILANTHROPY PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR LIFE, TO WHAT EXTENT AND HOW?
Yes, we give tens of thousands to different organizations and ministries and to random people who are in need.
WHO IS ON THE GUEST LIST FOR YOUR IDEAL DINNER PARTY, PRESENT OR PAST?
Charlton Heston, Johnny Carson, Gene Kelly, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope, Brad Pitt, Muhammad Ali. Never mind, I’ve already had dinner with all these guys so let’s invite over Abraham Lincoln.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY WORDS OF WISDOM FOR OUR READERS?
Answer, in the game of life, don’t let anyone tell you you can’t play, or something is impossible, have a healthy disregard when anyone tells you something is impossible. I say take possible out of impossible.