A variety of martial arts legends were in Houston, Texas this past weekend for the Museum of Sport Karate Hall of Fame awards celebration and banquet. The organization, founded by Professor Gary Lee, is designed to highlight the founding figures of sport karate and all the legends that came after them. The story of sport karate could not be told without Team Paul Mitchell, the most decorated team in the history of the sport with over thirty years of corporate sponsorship.
Team founders Don Rodrigues and Steve Babcock were recognized at the event, as well as Team Paul Mitchell legends Christine Bannon-Rodrigues and Rocky DiRico. Joining them was the man who made the iconic competition team possible with his vision and generosity, John Paul DeJoria. The co-founder and former CEO of John Paul Mitchell Systems was awarded an honorary 10th degree black belt for his contributions to the sport through three decades of sponsorship.
DeJoria is known for his philanthropic efforts such as JP's Peace, Love, and Happiness Foundation which allowed Grow Appalachia to serve over 5,300 families and grow more than 4,000,000 pounds of organic produce. His spirit of giving within the martial arts community dates back to 1987, when he took a chance on what was then a small New England-area fighting team. In addition to sponsoring Team Paul Mitchell, DeJoria and John Paul Mitchell Systems have sponsored numerous events over the years that have helped increase exposure to competitive martial arts.