American karate champion Linda Denley was born in Houston, Texas, one of 12 children. A natural athlete, she participated and excelled in many sports as a teenager. She decided to start studying martial arts in 1973 under Robert Torres in order to enhance her performance in other sports. In two years, she had her black belt in Tang Soo Do and was winning tournaments and teaching classes. While still in high school, Denley qualified for the Olympics in five track and field events, but was declared ineligible due to her professional winnings on the karate circuit. In 1979, she gave up an opportunity to play semi pro basketball for the Houston Angels because of her karate career.
Known as the “Texas Terror”, Denley’s aggressive, hard-hitting style made her the most feared competitor in woman’s kumite. She was rated number one from 1973 to 1996; she fought for nine years before losing a match. During her career, Denley won the prestigious Battle of Atlanta 11 times, The Diamond Nationals three times, The U.S. Open nine times, The Long Beach Internationals four times and the U.S. Capital Classic nine times. Denley has been named “Competitor of the year” by several Hall of Fame organizations including Mars Hall of Fame (1988). NASKA Hall of Fame (1994) and the Diamond National Hall of Fame (1989). She was the first female to be inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame (1980) and was the PKL and Kick Illustrated “Competitor of the Year” in 1982 and the Women’s Karate Championship for many years. The Amateur Organization of Karate recognized her as the 1999 “Instructor of the Year”. The same organization recognized her in 2002 as the only true living legend in the Martial Arts.
In 1988, she joined the Atlanta World Professional Karate Team. She traveled the globe to compete and was one of the greatest female fighters of all times. She graced the covers of numerous martial arts magazines and was featured in local newspaper articles and T.V. programs. She worked with Jackie Chan in Armour of God and with Chuck Norris in Sidekicks. Norris even grabbed her for a role in the 1995 Christmas episode of Walker, Texas Ranger.
Denley holds a 6th dan in Tang Soo Do and is the owner of the Texas Black Belt Academy in Houston. She is especially proud of teaching her kids and makes sure they learn respect, good sportsmanship and pride in everything they do and learn to say no when confronted with drugs. She wants her kids to become “black belts” not only in the martial arts but also in their schoolwork, in their church and in every day living. Denley is on a quest to help her students to be their best at whatever they do. Besides teaching full time, Denley is still giving seminars around the country and promotes her annual Space City Open Karate Championships in Houston. Each year her alma mater, Jefferson Davis High School, has a Linda Denley Day in honor of her achievements.