Dick Kimber is a three-time kickboxing world champion, a pioneer in the sport, and an example to the young people of Lynn that hard work and dedication to your craft can help you achieve goals that may seem impossible.
Kimber traveled to Atlantic City for the Action Martial Arts magazine Hall of Honors to accept another honor in recognition of his incredible career.
Dick received the prestigious Hall of Honors in person at the Jan. 29 ceremony at the Tropicana Hotel. Dick’s older brother, retired Lt. Lynn Fire Lt. Bob Kimber, received the lifetime achievement award for outstanding dedication to the martial arts, but was unable to attend the ceremony.
In his acceptance speech, Dick credited his family and former mentors.
“I thanked everyone for supporting me, especially my family, Grandmaster Al Goldberg, who organized the event, and told everyone that you can achieve whatever you want. if you dedicate yourself to what you want,” Kimber said. “It’s important to never give up.”
Classic graduate started Kickboxing career in 1977
Dick Kimber grew up at Curwin Circle in Lynn and he said there were a lot of obstacles that could have gotten him in the way.
“But I continued to stay strong and move forward and I had a lot of role models who gave me that strength, like my older brother Bob Kimber, my cousins Ralph Kimber Jr. and Jordan Berry, and my uncle, Raymond Armstead.”
A 1973 Lynn Classical graduate, Kimber excelled as a tailback on a team led by Dr. Dan Dill.
He had started training in martial arts at the age of 10 and made the transition to competitive kickboxing in 1977. Along with his business partner, Lou Hopkins, Dick owned the East Coast Karate Academy in Lynn.
Dick had an extraordinary kickboxing career, winning a world heavyweight division title in France and two heavyweight division titles at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.
Establish the foundation
It was Dick Kimber who helped lay the groundwork for the phenomenon that the sport has become today. Kimber was competing in pay-per-view events long before the UFC became a multi-billion dollar operation.
“I was going to try professional boxing, but I wanted this [kickboxing] work and I wanted to be one of the pioneers to break through this thing, and hopefully it would explode,” Kimber said. “A lot of promoters and sponsors thought it might get popular, but I think we got picked because it was going to go beyond boxing. So often we were on ESPN at 1 or 2 in the morning, and who’s going to watch the kickboxing then? We didn’t have big sponsors at the time.
Kimber’s brothers also thrived in mixed martial arts. His younger brother, Jimmy, was a heavyweight karate champion and outstanding trainer. His brother, Tommy, was a three-time world middleweight kickboxing champion who was inducted into the Lynn Classical Hall of Fame in 2021. His brother, Bobby, was a world-class kickboxing referee. One of Dick’s students, his brother-in-law, Ed Sierra, is a martial arts master.
Dick Kimber retired from kickboxing in 2000. He is a father of six and resides in Berlin, NH
Bobby Kimber honored for excellence, dedication
Bobby Kimber, 70, received double recognition at the Hall of Honors event for his career as a kick boxing referee and his lifelong dedication to the sport. While his brother, Dick, made the trip to New Jersey for the awards program, Bobby pulled out.
“I didn’t participate because there was a big snowstorm, but my brother went,” said Bobby.
There was a mutual respect between the four sons of Richard Kimber and Joan Kimber since their early days in Lynn.
“Dick was still in school when I joined the Air Force and Vietnam,” Bobby recalls. “It was just one of those things growing up in Curwin Circle, poor kids who were doing pretty well.”
While brothers Dick and Tommy were three-time world champions, Bobby and Jimmy had distinguished firefighting careers.
“They turned them on and we turned them off,” Bobby said.
Bobby retired as a Lynn Fire Lieutenant after a 32-year career. Jimmy just retired from the Peabody Fire Department.
Bobby was a kickboxing referee for 20 years. He never refereed one of Dick’s fights, but he was in the ring when one of Dick’s students was fighting for the world lightweight title.
“Dick’s fighter was holding his opponent, and I told Dick I’m going to take a point off him,” Bobby said. “The other corner was complaining, and I finally took a point from Dick’s fighter. Dick got up on the ropes and I threatened to take out another point. Dick yelled at me, “I’m gonna kick you you know what”, and I looked at him, and I said to Dick, “Oh yeah, I’m telling mommy”. “Dick came down from the ropes and the crowd went crazy. They knew I wasn’t taking anyone’s stuff. I took a point off my brother’s fighter.
Those days in the kickboxing arena are a thing of the past, but the honors and acclaim keep coming for the legendary Kimber Brothers.