Former wrestler, 63, slams robber in Boynton Beach - Sun Sentinel
Fred Kemp and his wife had just finished dinner Thursday night. As they walked out of the restaurant, a man came out of the darkness, demanding money.
But this robber picked the wrong guy. Turns out 63-year-old Fred Kemp, is a former wrestler.
He and his wife, Julie, had just eaten at Hurricane Alley, in the 500 block of East Ocean Avenue. It was about 9:15 p.m., and they were getting into their car, which was parked nearby on the street. Seated on the passenger's side, Kemp was closing the door of his 2011 Volkswagen Jetta when the robber, identified as Richard Nowling, 41, stuck a gun in his face.
Thinking of his wife's safety, the 5-foot-7 Kemp instinctively pushed the gun away. But the robber started to pistol whip Kemp in the head, police said.
"He started to hit me, so I reacted from there," a bruised but smiling Kemp said Friday. "I got him out into the street and held his arm. I foot-sweeped him down and I was trying to get a hold of the gun. He banged me up a little bit but my main concern was the gun."
Pulling out more wrestling moves, Kemp maneuvered the suspect into a rear naked choke hold, or "sleeper hold," a popular submission technique in mixed martial arts.
When Nowling's oxygen began to run out, and he became weak, Julie Kemp, 53, grabbed the weapon ?it turned out to be an authentic-looking pellet gun ? and held it pointed it at him until police arrived, investigators said.
Fred Kemp showed the bad guy no mercy.
"He asked me to let him go when I had him down," Kemp said. "I said, 'No, I'm not going to do that.'"
The police report describes Kemp's response this way: the "victim grabbed the gun and wrestled [Nowling] to the ground, disarming him, and held him down until police arrival."
Nowling, of Stuart, was arrested and charged with armed robbery and aggravated battery. His criminal history includes drug, theft and burglary charges, records show. Kemp, a muscular 150 pounds, is a business consultant who lives west of Boynton Beach and started wrestling in high school. The sport won him a scholarship to Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y.
He coaches wrestling for the New York State Junior Olympic team and is a volunteer assistant wrestling coach at American University in Washington, D.C. The Kemps will celebrate their 12th anniversary next month.
"In retrospect," he said, "it's not a wise move, but it was my reflexes and I'm fairly comfortable in being able to handle myself. So I did what came natural. I'm happy that no one got hurt and a guy like that is off the street," he said.
Joe DeMeo, head coach of the New York State Junior Olympic team, said Kemp's heroics didn't surprise him at bit.
"Fred Kemp's the last guy I would rob," DeMeo said. "He'll go down fighting. ? He does have a lot of physical ability. He's a no-nonsense, get-the-job-done kind of guy."