Once a star athlete at Nottingham High (Class of 1959) and member of the school’s Hall of Fame, Greg Tearney has been Mr. Martial Arts in Syracuse for more than 40 years. Tearney — who also attended Syracuse University and worked at New Process Gear from ’67-71 — has operated a dojo (karate school) in the Syracuse area since ’69. Some of his famous students include Tim Green and Mike Hopkins.
He operates Tearney’s Karate and Kickboxing with wife Judy (who is herself an 8th degree Black Belt). They oversee instruction of over 400 students. The martial arts schools emphasize respect, discipline and character. Their first tournament and kick-a-thon raised more than $5,000 for the Baldwin Cancer Foundation.
A product of Syracuse’s 15th Ward, Greg was — by his own admission — “a street fighter” following his scholastic years. He was drawn to martial arts purely by chance. While working on a garbage truck, he came upon a karate magazine that mentioned a dojo in Syracuse. The first time he walked in a dojo, he saw the late Gary Hall practicing katas (martial arts movements). Hall went on to a distinguished legal career, and Tearney got hooked on karate. Greg would say of the sport, “Karate saved my life.”
Tearney first studied under the late Peter Musacchio. Later, Tearney’s mentor would be the late Frank Van Lenten.
Not only is Greg renowned for his instruction of thousands of youngsters and adults in martial arts, but he was a top-notch competitor as well. He is a ranking Black Belt in five disciplines, including three 10th degree Black Belts. Tearney achieved the rank of Grand Master of Okinawan-style karate. He fought in the Black Belt heavyweight division from ’65-77.
He’s done it all. Greg has even taught a six-week karate course to SU football players. He’s been honored as NAACP Small Businessman of the Year (’11) for community service to the Central New York area. He is also held in high regard among martial artists worldwide. Tearney is president of the International Alliance, grand champion in the United States and Canada, and an ’83 Karate Hall of Fame inductee.
Now, as a member of the Class of 2013, Hanshi Greg Tearney becomes the first in his sport to be inducted into the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.