Bruce Lee Collection

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A Brief History Of The Bruce Lee Collection

Sr. Grand Master Joon P. Choi was hosting the World Martial Arts Expo and Asian Culture Fair in the late 1990s when he received a phone call from Robert Blakeman, who was a student of his in the early 1970s. During their conversation, Blakeman revealed that he had been collecting memorabilia on Bruce Lee for a long time, including several pictures, posters, books, videos and personal writings from the late film star.

GM Choi was intrigued and asked Blakeman to participate in his event and display some of the collection. Blakeman did so for two years. But with the dawn of a new millennium, Blakeman became ill and wasn't heard from. GM Choi investigated and found out that Blakeman had passed away on July 11, 2001. He was 45.

Then Blakeman's partner, Mickey Prince, agreed to display the collection at GM Choi's event. But that arrangement took place for only one year. Prince died January 26, 2002. He was 37. However, it didn't take long to determine what was to become of the collection. Blakeman and Prince had prepared a will with instructions to turn the collection over to GM Choi, who was asked to exhibit it in an effort to preserve the movie star's memories.

GM Choi has ensured that the collection has been displayed at several events, staffed by students who eagerly explain its journey and significance. The collection has more than 5,000 pieces and is recognized as one of the largest in the world. The pieces are housed at the headquarters of the Oriental Martial Arts College and the alliance, 1349 Brice Road in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. The general public is invited to view the collection. Admission is free, although donations are accepted.

In 2004, GM Choi and organizers for his annual Battle of Columbus World Martial Arts Games invited Bruce Lee's daughter, Shannon, to receive an award on the legend's behalf. Ted Wong, a top student of Bruce Lee's, also attended the ceremony. Today, GM Choi and the Bruce Lee Collection Committee are seeking to build a Legends of Martial Arts Hall of Fame. No time line has been set for the project, but organizers expect that Blakeman's collection will be the centerpiece.

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