The popular image of the King’s later years is that of a swollen wreck, a shell of its former glory. Yet, just over a month before his untimely death, the star was able to jump out of his car after a grueling concert and night robbery to defend a young man he saw being assaulted on the street. On June 24, 1977, shortly after 1 a.m., Elvis rescued a young gas station attendant from a gas station in Madison, Wisconsin. A commemorative plaque was then placed on the site.
In his later years, Elvis pursued a love of martial arts that began during his military service in 1958 in Germany. From 1970 to 1974, he trained with Master Kang Rhee in Memphis, eventually reaching black belt level 8 on September 16, 1974.
In addition to enjoying the discipline of training and the break it gave him to be Elvis (his training name was Mr. Tiger), the star incorporated karate moves into his stage performances.
The King was also obsessed with being able to defend himself against potential threats, but few expected him to jump out into the streets and use his karate moves in dramatic real-life combat.
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Elvis and his entourage were stopped at a red light on Highway 51 when the star saw Keith Lowry Jr, 17, pinned to the ground by two other young people in the forecourt of the Skyland gas station.
Local Madison Police Officer Tom McCarthy was traveling with Elvis in his limo for safety and remembered telling him, “Look at these two punks, I’m not going for these two on one deal.”
Despite promises that they would call the police when they got to the hotel, the King jumped out of his limo. He walked up behind the young men and took a karate pose, shouting “I’ll take you both”.
McCarthy said; “He was ready to fight, that was the wrong thing.”
Another security guard, Dick Grob, later said: “I almost fainted. God here was Elvis jumping out of the car in the middle of a fight in the street without letting us know what he was going to do. Hell, he could’ve been shot. “
Instead, the three young people looked up and were apparently “frozen in awe” when they realized who was standing there.
Lowry rushed into the gas station (to call some friends and tell them Elvis was there.) The other two were calmed down by the King, who then shook their hands and said, âIt’s all- it settled now?
By then, a small crowd had gathered and Elvis stayed to shake other hands, sign autographs and take pictures before being rushed back to his limo.
According to McCarthy, the star was apparently completely high, laughing and saying, “Did you see the faces of these guys?”
When they got back to the hotel, Elvis rushed to find his favorite backing vocalist Kathy Westmoreland to tell him the whole story, shouting, “Kathy, I just broke up a fight! I kept a poor guy from being. beaten!”
She described how happy he was with his exploits: “He was so proud and happy to have saved the dayâ¦ (He said)” You should have seen the looks on those guys’ faces! (laughing enthusiastically) … ‘When they realized who I was!’ he laughs even louder.
â’They were so shocked that I was ready to face them! He continued to quickly share every detail for a while, over and over again, while laughing. “