Sheperd was the first woman to hold the title of #1 Women’s Black Belt Forms Champion and was instrumental in pioneering recognition for female martial arts forms competitors.
Martial arts Career:
Sheperd was the first woman to be officially rated #1 World Karate Champion in forms, a title she held for two years, 1979 and 1980. Before 1979, separate ratings existed for female fighters but not for female forms competitors. Often competing against a field of men, Sheperd believed more women would compete if they had a title to compete for.
Sheperd organized a petition to establish the title and garnered the support of tournament promoters to begin offering a separate form division for female competitors. The editor of Karate Illustrated Magazine, Renardo Barden, established the first official ratings for female forms competitors in 1979. Having gained the highest accumulated 1st place points on the Karate competition circuit, Sheperd achieved the #1 rating by Karate Illustrated Magazine for 1979 and 1980.
Sheperd also had the distinction of being the first #1 Women’s Forms Champion in the STAR System World Kickboxing Ratings (Standardized Tournaments and Ratings) System which was established in 1980 by Editor Paul Maslak for Kick Illustrated Magazine.