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NINJA: Hero or Master Fake? : Others Kick Holes in Fabled Past of Woodland Hills Martial Arts Teacher

May 01, 1988|JOHN JOHNSON | Times Staff Writer

When officials of a trophy shop in North Hollywood, the W.R. Moody Co., were shown photos of the trophy, they said the base and ceramic plaques were made by their company.

Dux said it was given to him by a former tournament official in 1980.

An organization sponsoring the tournament, Dux said, was the International Fighting Arts Assn., which Dux said is a warrior society. That organization is hard to locate. The IFAA trail seems to lead only to Dux's door. The invoice for another IFAA trophy lists him as the only contact for the organization.

Dux said the IFAA probably ordered the trophy and he picked it up. He doesn't know what happened to the organization, he said. He broke relations several years ago because the organization wanted him to throw a fight, he said.

Many people have questioned Dux's claims in the past, but were silenced by his persuasive manner and the weight of the documentation he had amassed.

Among the earliest documentation was a 1980 Black Belt Magazine article called "Once in a Lifetime," in which the publication wrote that it researched Dux's claims about the Bahamas tournament and found them true.

Dux also produced a framed letter of praise from John Stewart, author of the Black Belt article.

Stewart, who now works at another magazine, said that after the article appeared, he received information that raised questions about Dux's military career.

No Retraction

"Sometimes we get caught," he said. "Sometimes we were naive enough to think this added up." Stewart said he wants to forget about Frank Dux.

Dux's attorney, Michael Lucero, said if Black Belt subsequently changed its mind about Dux, it owed its readers a retraction or correction. Since none has appeared, he said, the magazine must still stand by the story.

Coleman, the editor, said he was not there when the article was published, but suggested that proving Dux's claims to be false is just as hard as proving them true.

Another source that could authenticate his claims, Dux said, was Jeff Strompf, a diet technician at the Veterans Administration hospital in Sepulveda. Strompf verified that Dux had served overseas.

Strompf said he met Dux in Naples, Italy, in 1976, when Dux was delivering top secret messages for the Army.

Told that Dux was in the Marines, Strompf responded: "I guess it was the Marines" for whom he was working.

Strompf said he was certain that Dux was there because he beat up four Italians who were bothering Strompf and a friend on the street. "I just stayed aside. I was in awe," Strompf said.

Another person Dux referred The Times to was Richard Robinson, a Philadelphia stockbroker who Dux said he first met at the Bahamas competition.

Research by The Times established that Robinson was a schoolmate of Dux at Grant High School, though Dux said he did not know him.

In telephone interviews, Robinson said he met Dux in the Bahamas. He said that Dux fought in the heavyweight class and that he fought in the 135-pound division.

Robinson said he was invited to the competition because he was a good street-fighter and an undefeated wrestler for three years at Lower Marion High School in Philadelphia.

Told later that the school's athletic officials don't remember him and that he doesn't appear in team pictures, Robinson first said he was ill the day pictures were taken.

Told that he could not be found in the school yearbook during any of his high school years, he said: "All right. I don't know what to say. Why is this movie so important to you anyway? Frank was a buddy of mine when I was in L.A."

Of Dux's story about the epic fight in the Bahamas, Robinson said: "If he says it's true, it's fine with me."

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