One of my mentors, John Corcoran passed away on May 16, 2019. Seven days later, serial killer Bobby Joe Long was executed. 35 years he killed at least 10 women in the Tampa Bay Area in Florida during an eight-month span in 1984.
How are the two related? John Corcoran's girlfriend was the second victim of Bobby Joe Long. It happened on May 13, 1984.
After working for virtually every martial arts magazine, John was living in Los Angeles in 1984, when he got a job offer as a writer for a new movie production company founded by his instructor, Glenn Premru.
A movie buff who never missed seeing a James Bond movie on opening day, John was very excited about this opportunity, John and his girlfriend, Ngeun Thi Long, whom he called Lana, made the three-day drive to Tampa, Fl.
Unfortunately, the production company failed and the job vaporized.
John and Lana ended up living in a hotel in Tampa. John often told me what a great girl she was. He said, "Sometimes we'd have popcorn for dinner because that was all we could afford. She never complained. She would just say, "It's okay baby. We'll get through this."
Lana got a job as a dancer in the Sly Fox Club. However, when she quit the job, John hit the roof. He lost his temper to the point that she left the hotel to go for a walk.
When she didn't return that night, John was concerned. The next day he called the police to file a missing person's report. As if this was not enough stress, John's car was stolen a few days after.
I first learned about all of this when Mike Anderson called to tell me he would like me to meet him, John, and Joe Lewis that night at Clancy's, which was a popular Walt Bone pub before he died two years earlier.
Joe was living in Mike's big house on Madeira Beach and John was moving in as well.
I was excited to meet John. I am an avid reader and John Corcoran was the premier journalist in the martial arts world.
I was amazed that the world I read about in the karate magazines was coming to me. Mike Anderson, founder of the PKA, Joe Lewis, the Ali of the time, and now John Corcoran.
During dinner at Clancy's, John told me that he had to be at the Tampa Police station the next day to file a report regarding his stolen car.
I offered to drive him there and he gratefully accepted.
When we arrived, we were told to go to the fifth floor. We stepped into the elevator with a big guy in a suit. This guy glared at John with psychic daggers.
His distain for John was so palatable that when I mentioned it to him, John told me that the guy was the lead detective on the murder case of his girlfriend.
He thought John was the number one suspect. Of course, John's story held up and he was not a suspect for long.
There were nine more killings before they arrested Bobby Joe Long leaving a cinema showing a Chuck Norris movie.
I made a number of similar trips to help John over the next few months. John told me how much he appreciated my help and as a sign of gratitude, he was going to make me the local martial arts celebrity, which he did.
In those years John and I co-authored a book, The Ultimate Martial Arts Q n A Book.
He was the editor for my ACMA Instructor Certification Manual.
He was also the editor of my magazine, Martial Arts Professional for the first few years.
John was an unpaid producer on my USA Karate cable TV show.
When kickboxing promotor, Howard Petschler purchased Fighter International magazine from Mike Anderson in 1987, he hired John to be the editor. John then recruited me to be an assistant editor.
I distinctly recall an editorial meeting with them where I pitched them on a revolutionary idea. "There is a computer called Macintosh. You can layout the entire magazine in the computer with this Adobe Pagemaker software." They were blown away.
Up until that transition, we had to lay the pages out on cardboard and paste them in order. I learned a ton about the magazine business and really enjoyed working with John.
John loved to share his knowledge and he gave in abundance.
He moved back to Los Angeles in about 2000, but his help for me only increased. A few times, I flew out to shoot magazine cover that he arranged.
John also cast me in two films he was involved in. The first was with my brother Jim in the Don Wilson movie Black Belt and the second was Sworn to Justice.
My death scene in "Sworn to Justice." John Corcoran is doing his best Barney Fife imitation behind me. :0)
It was in the Hamburger Hamlet on Sepulveda Blvd that I mapped out this idea that I had for a professional association dedicated to helping school owners run their schools.
He thought it was "brilliant."
The following year, I launched Martial Arts Professional magazine and hired John to be the editor.
The first NAPMA ad. 1993.
None of this would have happened had John stayed in Tampa after the murder of Lana.
Maybe Joe Lewis or Mike Anderson would have introduced us, but I'm quite sure that none of the projects I've described would have happened had we not been thrust into a surreal set of circumstances in the months following her death.
For that matter, there would be no MAIA, MASuccess, or MAIA Supershow.
I find it amazing how my timeline would be different if it was not for the lessons John Corcoran taught me.
As much as he loved Hollywood and the creative process, John was not particularly creative.
Most of his books didn't require much creative writing because they were mostly compilations of lists and short bios; e.i. "Top Ten Point Fighters in 1973."
His books did require a ton of detailed research and reporting, which he was great at.
What John taught me helped me to see the potential and to act with confidence.
Thank you and rest in peace, my friend.
On the set of USA Karate episode one. Joe Lewis was the guest and John Corcoran a producer. When I got the initial countdown to open the show, I said, "I'm pleased to introduce you to the man many consider the greatest karate fighter of all time. Please welcome, Chuck Norris.
Corcoran fell out of his chair laughing as did the rest of the crew. Everyone was cracking up except Joe Lewis and myself.
I got better. :0)