Legendary Syracuse area Karate and Mixed Martial Arts instructor Steve Lavallee was found dead at his home in Florida Monday morning, an apparent victim of a suicide.
Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh confirms his department was notified of Lavallee's death by the Fort Lauderdale police. The two departments had worked together on an investigation into Lavallee a few months ago. The sheriff would not say what the investigation concerned.
Lavallee was the owner of eight training centers in Central New York and six more on the east coast of Florida, in cities ranging from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach. In recent years he had operated his business from Florida. He marketed it as a Mixed Martial Arts training center, and also a place for kids to learn Karate and adults to get a great fitness workout.
His staff at USA Black Belt Champions issued this statement to Martialinfo.com:
"Today Kyoshi LaVallee passed away.
He was a beloved Kyoshi, father, husband, son and entrepreneur.
Kyoshi founded USA Black Belt Champions in Liverpool, NY in 1975 when he purchased the school from his instructor, Lee Thompson.
Kyoshi developed the USA BBC Black Belt Success System that we all enjoy on a weekly basis. In 1994, Master KC LaVallee started the South Florida movement by opening our National Training Center in Fort Lauderdale. South Florida now has 6 thriving dojos that continue to see positive progress, growth, and change.
Kyoshi then started Martial Arts University International in 2006 so he could help school owners and instructors from around the world increase the level of QQS (Quality - Quantity - Service) to their students.
The USA Black Belt Champions Team is fully committed to stay united and continue the vision that he and Master KC LaVallee created.
We thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. Kyoshi will be missed and his spirit will live on through our dojos.
The South Florida USA Black Belt Champions Staff "
Lavallee is being remembered tonight by past students and fellow instructions at Martialinfo.com. A memorial service to celebrate his life publicly is being planned.