Frederick “Skipper” Ingham, regarded as the father of karate in Bermuda and a quiet force in the development of professional sport karate, passed away Wednesday at the age of 92. Born in Bermuda, Ingham moved to New York in 1947 eventually becoming a merchant seaman. Sailing the world, he became interested in martial arts on witnessing a demonstration in Japan.
Among those Ingham learned from were Filipino karate pioneer Latino Gonzalez and Okinawan goju-ryu master Eiichi Miyazato. His main instructor, though, was American goju karate pioneer Peter Urban, with whom he began training in the early 1960s in New York alongside future greats like Black Belt hall of famer Chuck Merriman and martial arts film star Ron Van Clief.
Ingham returned to Bermuda founding what’s said to be the island’s first karate school in 1970. Perhaps his biggest impact on martial arts came when he secured the backing of wealthy local businessman John Deuss in supporting his Bermuda Invitational Grand Championships tournament in the 1980s. The tournament was successful enough to convince Deuss to fund the Atlantic World Karate Team, the sport’s first professional squad. Coached by Merriman and Ingham and manned by the best tournament competitors of the day, the Atlantic Team ignited a new era of professionalism in sport karate and would inspire a host of future teams.
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