Top 6 Fake Martial Artists of All-Time

Fake martial artists

In the history of modern martial arts, there have been a lot of phonies. Shysters that have exploited martial arts for profit.

That’s why we’ve put together our list of the top six fake martial artists of all-time. Read the absurd stories of these frauds below and see which you think is the biggest fake.

6 Fake Martial Artists

1. Count Dante

Count Dante

Who quite possibly might be the very first fake martial artist in modern times is the legendary Count Dante. Born Jack Keenhan, Dante actually did practice in legitimate martial arts during his teen years.

Later on, he started going by the name Count Dante, which he stole from The Count of Monte Cristo. Complete with claiming that his family were Spanish nobles that fled Spain during the Civil War to live in the US(in secret).

He was actually 100% Irish, but he had a personal to sell. Dante only lived to the age of 36, but told a lifetime of lies. Except for being an accomplished hairdresser.

Everything from selling his scam World’s Deadliest Fighting Secrets handbooks in comic books to creating his own fake secret society(Black Dragon Fighting Society).

But what he’s most notoriously known for is the infamous Chicago Dojo Wars. The count decides to declare war on a rival dojo, which resulted in the death of his friend.

During the trial, the judge was so embarrassed to be there, he dismissed the case against both sides. Dante would die from a bleeding ulcer in 1975, but his legacy has lived on as a punchline to many jokes.

He was a legendary figure that paved the way for many fake martial artists.

2. Ashida Kim

Ashida Kim

Ashida Kim may have been the very first fake American ninja in the history of modern martial arts. His upbringing is shrouded in mystery, but Kim did grow up in Florida and his alleged real name was Radford W. Davis. Also going by the name Christopher Hunter and Dr. Ha-Ha Lung.

He came up with his name mixing common names from Japan and Korea. Ninjas were never Korean, but logic is not part of the Kim legacy.

Ashida claims that he learned ninjutsu from a ninja master in Chicago, Illinois that was a Black Dragon Society associate. The same Black Dragon Society that was founded by Dante Kim.

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Since the 1980s, Kim has released numerous books from ninja guides to weird erotic novels he claims are true. Also numerous instructional videos that seem like they were embarrassing home videos, but he’s deadly serious.

Everyone knows that Kim is a fake, but like all lying scam artists, he will never admit it. The longevity of his grift is why he’s one of the top fake martial artists to have ever lived.

3. Charlie Zelenoff

Charlie Zelenoff

For the last decade, one of the most notorious combat sport trolls has been Charlie “Z-Money” Zelenoff. A privileged little twerp that got famous creating a fake fighter persona and claiming to be an undefeated champion.

Zelenoff didn’t want to put in the work to become a fighter, so he faked it. Creating his own fake boxing promotion, making himself the champion, and giving himself an undefeated record.

He would begin assaulting people in the gym and claiming them as wins on his records. Then he decided to call out real fighters online and IRL. This is when things got rather funny.

On numerous occasions, Charlie Zelenoff wrote checks his a** couldn’t cash and paid the price. Getting pummeled by numerous famous fighters from Floyd Mayweather Jr. to Deontay Wilder.

Even getting beat up by retired unknown fighters, amateur boxers, and a few influencers. But in Charlie’s mind, he has never lost and still remains undefeated.

Today, Zelenoff still claims to be undefeated, but he’s banned from every gym in California. Being forced to get beat up by strangers on the street for attention. 

Some may argue that Z-Money doesn’t belong on a list of fake martial artists, but he fits perfectly. Anyone that lies about their fighting skills, record, creates a false fighting promotion, and buys belts definitely passes the fake test.

4. George Dillman

George Dillman

George Dillman has been a con man for more than forty years and one of the longest running fake martial artists. At first, he was just a Karate practitioner that embellished his stories, but George would later become an embarrassment.

During his time as a competitor in Karate, Dillman claimed to have won over 300 trophies in a 3 year period. Although, there are no documents that can prove this is true.

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During the early 1980s, Dillman began teaching Ryukyu Kempo. A martial art that teaches pressure point attacks. It was a bit silly, but nothing totally fake.

But then he dived into the fake nonsense and began claiming he could knockout people with his chi. Creating a ball of energy that would knock any opponent unconscious.

People had their suspicions for years that he was a fake, but a NatGeo show would prove it. When his chi attack had no effect on a chemist, Dillman would make the most absurd excuses. Everything from he wasn’t a true believer to his tongue was out of place.

Dillman has been a joke for decades and will continue to be laughed at for the foreseeable future. For sure one of the top fake martial artists in history.

5. Frank Dux

Dux medal of honor

Frank Dux was one of the biggest and successful fake martial artists that ever lived. He was able to dupe Hollywood into creating the action classic BloodSport, which Frank says is all true.

Dux claimed that his father was a decorated WW2 veteran that was in Japan and met a ninja master. This ninja master went by the name Senzo Tanaka and came from a family of martial arts masters.

Tanaka’s backstory is exactly the same as Tiger Tanaka from the 007 film You Only Live Twice. Just a weird coincidence.

Then after his ninja training, Dux enlisted in the military and went on numerous secret missions. Everything from fighting in a war that didn’t happen to saying he won numerous medals that he never earned.

But the biggest lie that Frank Dux is known for is the story of the Kumite. A secret martial arts competition that he went AWOL to attend. 

Claiming to have fought and won a sixty round tournament that never really happened. Since the 1990s, Frank Dux has been exposed as a fake martial artist, as well as his fake military service.

Even the trophy shop where he bought his Kumite trophy showed that he was a fraud. But you really have to take your hat off to Dux.

His lies gained him fame, fortune, and his very own film based on his absurd claims. Easily making him one of the top fake martial artists of all time.

6. Joshua Fabia

Joshua Fabia

He doesn’t have the track record of being one the all-time fake martial artists, but Joshua Fabia made an impact. In a time where we thought fake martial artists couldn’t thrive, Fabia really succeeded.

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Joshua was able to convince a famous MMA fighter in Diego Sanchez that he was an expert fighting guru. This story took the MMA world by storm as they could not believe what they were seeing.

A skilled fighter like Sanchez getting duped by a weird scammer into being his head coach. Although, Diego is clearly suffering from years of fighting and has never been the most stable person.

With Fabian in his corner, Sanchez looked embarrassingly unprepared in his last UFC fights. Fans and fighters were pleading with Diego to get rid of Fabian and the UFC to ban him from cornering.

Sanchez would eventually come to his senses, but the damage was done. His legacy was tarnished by that weird phony Fabia. For that reason, we have to give him recognition on our list of fake martial artists.

7. Rafiel Torre

Rafiel Torre

Probably one of the most insane stories of a fake martial artist has to be the story of Rafiel Torre. A respected MMA journalist that turned out to be a compulsive liar and later a murderer.

Torre was born Ralph Bartel and he grew up in California. He would later change his name to Rafiel Torre and claimed that he was a high level BJJ black belt.

For a long time, Torre’s lies went unnoticed as he was really accepted by the early MMA community. Any show from around the world from KOTC to PRIDE, Torre would cover the fights.

Fighters would warm up to Torre and even become friends with him. That was until his web of lies caught up with him.

His lies got him an invitation to compete at ADCC 1998 from founder Sheik Al Nahyan. Torre looked like an untrained fool competing with high level grapplers.

Then to save face, Rafiel would come out of retirement from fighting to fight at KOTC 7. The fight would be a fix as Torre paid his opponent to take a dive in a bout that was terribly choreographed.

But after being banished from the MMA community, Torre’s name would come back up. This time for the murder of his girlfriend’s husband in 2005.

Ralph Bartel was convicted and is now in prison for life. Definitely one of the craziest fake martial artists stories that has ever been told.