UPDATE: Admired Newark Martial Arts Grandmaster, Instructor Laid to Rest After Battle with ALS Disease
Admired grandmaster martial artist, educator and mentor was laid to rest on early Saturday morning with family, friends, former students, and city/Essex County officials attending the Saturday at 10 am Janazah. The service was held at the Robert Treat Hotel, 50 Park Place in downtown Newark.
Grandmaster Kevin "Shakil Muhammad" Brown transitioned on Wednesday, January 8th, after a long bout with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neuron disease (MND) or Lou Gehrig's disease.
According to a statement released by his family, Grandmaster Brown was a devoted husband, father, son and brother. To the world of sport karate, he was the most significant all-around competitor who has ever lived.
Competing for over 40 years, Kevin set the standard for winning with a competitive energy and focus that no one had ever seen his family said in the statement.
A fierce competitor, he would step fearlessly into the ring and beat the very best in fighting, forms and weapons. In the 80’s he was a member of The Budweiser Team and The Atlantic Team, and in the 1990’s he joined Team Paul Mitchell Karate, where he was named Team Captain in 1993. Kevin retired in 2011 after a hamstring injury continued to plague his ability to perform at the level he expected of himself.
A year and a half after his retirement, Kevin and his family came to learn that the hamstring injury was the beginning stages of A.L.S. - known by many as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis s a progressive nervous system (neurological) disease that destroys nerve cells and inhibits the ability of the brain to communicate with the muscles in a patient’s body. Without movement, the muscle atrophies and leaves the person paralyzed. To this day, there is still no cure.
Though Kevin knew the reality, he fought the disease with the same warrior spirit, drive and single-minded focus and determination he used in martial arts. To this end, he spoke before Congress to funding for additional ALS research, and attended countless fundraising and awareness events until the disease made travel impossible.
Kevin "Shakil Muhammad" Brown's family said he was honored at the MAIA Supershow in Las Vegas, the largest gathering of professional martial artists in the world, where he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his high standard of Martial Arts excellence. The New York Yankees paid tribute to him at home plate in Yankee Stadium on the 75th Anniversary of the famous “Luckiest Man Alive” speech given by Lou Gehrig in 1939.
Throughout, his family said Kevin defied the odds, living beyond the expected 2 - 5-year life expectancy - and continued to do it “his way” with a warrior spirit that burned as bright as it did when he competed. For those of you who had the chance to spend time with him over the last few years, you were embraced within his love and caring and a made comfortable by his sense of humor that both entertained and allowed family and friends to feel at ease.
Details of the public service will be posted for all to see on the Master Kevin Thompson Facebook page. If you would like to leave a message, share a thought or special memory, you are encouraged to go there as well. This will live on and create a beautiful treasure chest of his importance to the world for his wife, children and family.