The couple was getting into their car in Boynton Beach when a man came out of the darkness and approached them with what turned out to be a pellet gun. Wanting to keep his wife safe, Kemp returned to the skills that he learned as a wrestler for Hofstra University.
"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."
Kemp's quick thinking led him to apply a rear-naked choke, then when the robber was weakened, he took the gun from him. The police report mentioned that Kemp held the robber down until the police arrived.
"He asked me to let him go when I had him down," Kemp said. "I said, 'No, I'm not going to do that.'"
Fighters who started as wrestlers often go back to rely on their wrestling skills when they get in trouble in a fight. Clearly, that instinct sticks with them, because Kemp was smart enough to rely on his sport when danger found him. Joe DeMeo, a friend of Kemp's through wrestling, was not surprised to hear that Kemp took out the criminal.
"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."
Remember that the next time you approach a diminutive 63-year-old. It's probably not a good idea to mess with him.