Tiger Joe Robinson, a real-life British judo, karate and wrestling champion who famously engaged Sean Connery in a fierce fight in an elevator in Diamonds Are Forever, has died. He was 90.
Robinson died July 3 after a short illness in Brighton, England, his family announced.
Robinson also jumped in the ring to wrestle the Italian giant Primo Carnera in director Carol Reed’s A Kid for Two Farthings (1955), which competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
In Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Robinson, who played a diamond smuggler, and Connery’s James Bond went at it amid the tight quarters of a glass-enclosed lift before 007 employed a fire extinguisher to put away his adversary.
The broad-shoulder Robinson also was a stuntman and stunt arranger, and he and his brother Doug gave actress Honor Blackman her first lessons in judo and karate. Those skills came in handy for her action roles as Dr. Cathy Gale on the 1960s ITV series The Avengers and as Pussy Galore in the Bond film Goldfinger (1964).
The brothers were credited as co-authors of 1965’s Honor Blackman’s Book of Self-Defence and appeared as her combatants in several photographs. “If a man were going to attack someone, he’d be a fool to pick me,” Blackman, who became a black belt in karate, told Life magazine in 1966.
A third-generation champion wrestler, Robinson defeated Olympic gold medalist Axel Cadier of Sweden to win the European heavyweight wrestling title at Royal Albert Hall in 1952. Around that time, he also portrayed Harry “Muscles” Green in a West End production of Arthur Kober’s Wish You Were Here.
Robinson studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and went on to appear in The Flesh Is Weak (1957), Sea Fury (1958), The Bulldog Breed (1960), Barabbas (1961) and Tony Richardson’s The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962).
Survivors include another brother, Norman.