Cheryl Murphy

Olympia, WA ; Queens, NY

An American martial artist, member of Team USA, and a current Shotokan Karate fighter. 

She is stated to be a world class competition Kumite competitor.

Career Achievements

  • Two-time WKF Team Kunitz Bronze
  • 11 time USANCF Champion
  • Multiple time Pan American Gold
  • World Gain Bronze Medalist
  • WSKA World Champion
  • 6x US Open Gold medal US
  • 2013 World Games Bronze Medalist
  • 4x U.S. Open team Gold Medalist 

If you had to pay your own way to go to the world championship would you go?

Yeah, but at what cost?

I've been in Denmark talking to my sensei asking him to put money in my account for my rent to be paid.

I've driven with oil leaks for hours just to get to meets in cars I wasn't sure if I could make it back in.

I have a newer car now, but as an old habit I still always look at the overheating gauge or my tires because I'm used to checking so often.

Is the best talent always represented at tournaments? 


The parents who have the money, the means or the time to put up that kind of sacrifice are there. The parents who cannot travel to tournament locally not to mention internationally will see there child go but so far.

What age were you introduced to karate?

Seven years old but mother had me in dance or gymnastics after school at the YMCA, always gave me options.

What karate entertainers influenced your childhood?

Bruce lee, Ip Man, and David Carradine (Kung Fu).

Where is the sport now for women and women of color in America and worldwide?  

I was the only black female for 13 years and then two other women of color have risen. That makes three and if I stop that would leave two. So I guess you can say there's an improvement?! In the Olympics the women of color is sporadic but I've been the longest running black female on the team and it was definitely a difficult time with the adjusting. The sport is predominately White and Asian. You can look at the pictures.

Does it serve you better to be aggressive or cerebral in your support? 

There's a time and place for everything so, I would say both. In order to be effective at producing and being successful you're going to have to be smart especially on the on the international level whether you're block a point or you score a point. You have to be sharp with you decisions in a split second. Which is why I never drink. 

How do you want to be remembered?

I feel like making your own history is really important. Realizing I was just a good as anybody else worked better than admiring somebody else. And paying it forward.

I may not have the financial means but I will give my time. Someone who received so much help and guidance to break barriers came from a small dojo not a big name school. 

We of course would like to give an honorable mention to Eleanor Elizabeth Monroe Murphy Cheryl's mother who passed away some years ago who was instrumental in her development as a youth in New York City! 

What do you admire most about your mother that gives you motivation? 

Not knowing how she was able to do it

Even considering that I was a good kid I hated being in trouble, a free spirit. My mother gave me choices to keep me busy instead of allowing me to do nothing.  She was always in the realm of helping people. As a Grievance Counselor for the people in her union, she fought for people, for equality, an excellent writer. She would speak up when she saw somebody else's child at a tournament being cheated. Paying it forward is important to me because of her.

What is your concern for children of color in the sport of karate today?

Opportunity and utilizing that opportunity we need to support each other. It's a white collar sport. I received so much help along the way, because it's expensive. you need a GI (karate uniform) two sets of gloves two sets of shin pads and laundry list of other things to compete. Plus traveling because it's not popular in the U.S, You have to go to Europe.  You have to pay trainers. We need to support or kids.