Liz “Panther” Harkins embodied her nickname to the max. A tenacious, tough, relentless, perfection-seeking young lady, Panther prowled the territory of the KIA with the efficiency and stealth of a cat hunting.
Although Panther was female, the boys had a difficult time handling her in sparring. She was aggressive, focused, and feared. She was only the fourth female, and the second junior female, to obtain a black belt rating at the KIA and it’s safe to say she was the best female fighter the KIA had produced up until that time in its history. When you fought Liz Harkins as a boy, you weren’t fighting a girl, you were fighting a true, skilled martial artist and you knew it!
Here’s an interesting fact regarding Liz’s family. Her father was Scottish. He had three brothers. The astonishing thing about the Harkins family was that the four brothers married four Indonesian sisters! What are the odds of that?! Truly remarkable and, undoubtedly, karmic. And what a wonderful family they were, too!
Liz’s mother was the epitome of courage and grace. When her husband lost his job, the family fell on hard times. When Mrs. Harkins would come to the studio, Mr. King would greet her and ask her how she was doing. Her constant reply was beyond extraordinary: “Wonderful, thank you.” Every time. She never expressed one iota of self-pity or concern. What a life lesson! What grace! What a role model! It’s no wonder that Elizabeth “Panther” Harkins was the great kid she was. The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.