I was rudely awakened this morning by the news of a plane crash which killed Ken Knudson, founder of the Sybaris Hotels.
Kenny was my first interview for The Search for Count Dante. I was just preparing to call him to arrange a new interview in HD Video. Ken was a regional karate champ back in the day. He competed against all the greats, most especially Joe Lewis. He gave me some dvds with his fights on them.
I was so impressed by him, he was a great human being. You will see in the doc. This interview shows the kind of guy Kenny Knudson is with that exuberant personality and sense of humour.
Ken was a student of Jimmy Jones, who was one of the first students of John Keehan. He was also best friends with Jim Konsevic. He recounts that friendship in the interview. Here is a 2 minute video excerpt of that interview from May 2005. There is a quicktime and a Windows Media file available to view. At the beginning of the clip Bruce Lee mentions Ken from a workshop he attended. At the end of the interview is a quick match point against the great Joe Lewis. Brilliant backfist to Joe's noggin.
Ken is the one who opened the door for me into this documentary, He was there ready with information, phone numbers, and encouragement. I was really looking forward to our next interview. While I was in his office he tolk me about how he started the company and his plans for expansion.
Ken is laughing in the film about Bob Cooley's book, When Corruption is King. He saw pictures of guys he used to streetrace against back in the early 1960s. They were sons of the Chicago Outfit and the reason he became a martial artist, he said. They welched on a bet and then dared him to fight for it. He went home found some place to get instruction and sold all his car stuff and then studied with Jimmy Jones, the only white student in the class. Ken could tell a good story.
I was really looking forward to meeting up with him again.