Dennis Alexio was born and raised in Vacaville, California and was a standout athlete in his youth, excelling in American football, baseball and basketball. In an interview with Inside karate magazine, he claimed to have turned down an offer to play baseball with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He began his martial arts training in Kajukenbo and Tang Soo Do before moving on to kickboxing. His entrance music was "The Final Countdown" by Swedish rock band Europe.
Alexio debuted as a professional kickboxer in early 1980, losing to Mike King via technical knockout in Culver City, California in his freshman appearance. The outcome of the bout was later overturned to a no contest by the PKA, however, with the fight deemed a mismatch as Alexio was competing for the first time while King was an experienced pro. Following this, he went on to win seventeen consecutive fights, all by knockout with only one going past the third round. In his first international match-up, Alexio stopped Basil Gura with a kick in round three of their contest in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia on November 19, 1983.
Having established himself as a force on the world stage with this extensive winning streak, Alexio was given the chance to fight Don "The Dragon" Wilson for the inaugural WKA World Super Light Heavyweight (-83.2 kg/183.4 lb) Full Contact Championship in Hollywood in Wilson's home state of Florida on March 29, 1984. Televised on NBC's Sports World and with the #1 spot in the STAR System World Kickboxing Ratings on the line, Dennis Alexio's straight forward, Boxing-based style played into the hands of the counterfighter Don Wilson, who pelted him with unchecked low kicks throughout the twelve round bout Wilson winning by a unanimous decision 119-106,119-112,118-114. Alexio disputed the result, calling it a "hometown decision" and demanding a rematch. A second bout between the pair would never come to fruition, however.
He rebounded from this defeat by winning the PKA World Light Heavyweight title in his hometown of Vacaville on September 14, 1984, knocking down Rob Salazar twice in round five en route to a decision win. He made successful defences of this belt against Bernard Clark and Neil Singleton the following year before moving up to the cruiserweight division where he was soon crowned the ISKA World Cruiserweight (-88.2 kg/194.4 lb) Full Contact Champion. He also briefly pursued a career in professional boxing between 1984 and 1985, going 7-1 with five KO victories.
In an ISKA title defence on August 16, 1986 in Denver, Colorado, Alexio survived an early scare as he was dropped with big right hook from Lowell Nash in the first round, coming back by flooring Nash with a right hook of his own before finishing him with a devastating right cross at the end of the fourth.
By 1987, Alexio's record consisted of twenty-six wins and one loss, and so he made the transition to the heavyweight class where, at 1.80m/5 ft 11in and just over 91 kg/200 lb, he was one of the smaller competitors. After winning the KICK full contact world heavyweight title, he made one last defence of his ISKA cruiserweight belt on June 3, 1987 when he outpointed Larry McFadden over twelve rounds in Stateline, Nevada. Less than a month later, he defended his KICK Heavyweight belt and also won the vacant ISKA Heavyweight (-96.4 kg/212.5 lb) title against Jeff Hollins on June 20, 1987 in Denver.
On August 6, 1990 at Harrah's Lake Tahoe in Stateline, Alexio faced Canadian taekwondo stylist Darrell Henegan in a heavyweight unification fight with Alexio's ISKA and KICK titles, and Henegan's FFKA title on the line. Alexio won via TKO after the referee stopped the fight towards the end of the fifth round.
At the end of 1990, he re-located to Honolulu, Hawaii where he fought twenty times at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center, winning all twenty by knockout. He also adopted the nickname of "Kaheke" while fighting there and often fought in a Hawaiian grass skirt.
In another heavyweight title unification bout, Alexio put his ISKA belt on the line against Jerry Rhome with the vacant PKC title also up for grabs at KarateMania III held at Caesars Tahoe in Stateline on August 24, 1991. He floored Rhome with a roundhouse kick on the bell at the end of the fourth before going out and finishing him off early in five. Alexio then defeated a number of middle-of-the-road challengers from around the world under full contact before seeking super fights with champions from other rule sets.
On March 16, 1992, Alexio faced his toughest opponent to date when he met Croatian Muay Thai fighter Branko Cikatić in at the World Martial Arts Challenge at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Although Alexio still held the ISKA, KICK and FFKA heavyweight world tiltes, and Cikatić was the WKA/IKBF World Cruiserweight Champion, the only title on the line was the inaugural WMAC Heavyweight Championship. The rules of the bout were disputed between both fighters right up to the day of the fight. Alexio, who had competed exclusively under full contact rules, wanted both fighters to wear foot pads and low kicks to be illegal. Cikatić, a Muay Thai stylist and international rules fighter, wanted low kicks as well as the Thai clinch to be allowed. In the end, low kicks were allowed and Alexio wore foot pads, and knees and the clinch were banned. The duration of the fight was set at eight, three-minute rounds.
The first two rounds were close, with Alexio utilising better boxing skills but Cikatić using his powerful low kicks to his advantage. Cikatić was docked a point in the second round for kneeing Alexio in the clinch. The fight then ended in confusion in the third round when a stoppage was called as Alexio's right foot pad came off. Referee Pat Burleson decided to continue the fight without retrieving the foot pad as it had fallen out of the ring. However, before the fight was restarted Alexio hit Cikatić with two left hooks and then kicked at him but missed as he fell to the canvas. The fight was stopped there and, as it had gone less than half of the set eight rounds, was ruled a technical draw.
Following this, Alexio went on to collect three straight KO wins before agreeing to fight Australian Stan Longinidis, an up-and-coming fighter who had been calling him out for some time. One of the most highly anticipated fights in the sport's history at the time, and a bad-blooded affair, the bout took place in Longinidis' hometown of Melbourne, Victoria on December 6, 1992 with the vacant ISKA International rules Heavyweight Championship of the World up for grabs. Six seconds into the fight, Longinidis hit Alexio with a right low kick, causing Alexio's fibula and tibia to break. Officially, the fight lasted just fifteen seconds and Longinidis was named the winner via technical knockout.
Alexio and his manager, Bob Wall, disputed the fight and claimed that the fracture was caused by twisting his leg on a depression in the ring floor. A rematch between Longinidis and Alexio was discussed but never materialized.
One of kickboxing's biggest stars at the time, Dennis Alexio was offered the opportunity to fight at UFC 1, the first mixed martial arts tournament held in North America, in 1993 but refused. Alexio recovered from his broken leg and made a comeback on January 22, 1994 in Lake Tahoe, where he defeated Englishman Mark Russell via technical knockout in the second round to defend the PKC World Heavyweight Full Contact title. His first significant fight since his comeback came on March 26, 1994 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada when he defeated Dick Kimber to defend the PKC belt at KarateMania VIII. He was ordered by the referee to remove his Hawaiian grass skirt at the end of round one, and came out wearing a pair of traditional kickboxing trunks in round two and battered Kimber to a TKO victory.
He would end out his career fighting mostly in Honolulu and under full contact rules, beating a number of lower-level K-1 fighters. During the mid-1990s, he began to face growing criticism of his opponents, with Rick Roufus and Maurice Smith claiming that he was avoiding them and other high-level heavyweights.
On May 31, 1997, Alexio won the vacant IKF World Heavyweight Championship when he defeated Barrington Patterson of England by TKO at the end of the fifth round in Honolulu. His first defense of this title was on November 21, 1997 when he defeated Jeff Gibson. In May 1998 in Sacramento, California, he defeated France's Achille Roger by TKO in round five round to defend his title for a second time. His title was retired by the IKF on November 24, 2003. The IKF organization had been trying to contact Alexio since June 2003, to discuss what his future plans for the sport were, such as a title defense or a retirement of his title. However, they never received any return phone call.
His last ever fight came on December 18, 1999 at Honolulu's Neal S. Blaisdell Center, where he knocked out Welshman Gordon Minors to win the WAKO Pro World Heavyweight Full Contact Championship, his eight world title.
Alexio starred alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme in the 1989 film Kickboxer. He also had a small role in the 1988 film Picasso Trigger in addition to an appearance in a 1990 episode of Super Force.
Alexio was charged with two counts of bank fraud in addition to failing to pay child support on July 1, 2003. On December 20, 2005, a federal magistrate ordered that he be detained and returned to California.
On June 12, 2007, Alexio was arrested at his home in Aiea, Hawaii for failing to appear as a witness before a federal grand jury and on an outstanding federal warrant issued in San Francisco for bank fraud. A federal judge in West Virginia had issued a warrant for his arrest on April 20 when he failed to appear as summoned to testify in a fraud case.
Dennis Alexio was arrested by federal agents at a coffee shop in Aiea on November 21, 2013 and his wife, Anitalei Alexio, was later arrested at their home, the couple being charged with thirty-six counts of filing false tax claims, wire fraud, and money laundering from December 2008 to August 2013. The federal government also accused him of sending false documents to obtain gold bars and coins worth hundreds of thousands of US dollars. Both pleaded not guilty and were scheduled to stand trial on the charges in January 2014. On January 22, 2016, Alexio was found guilty on 28 counts, including tax fraud, theft, and money laundering. He was scheduled to be sentenced on May 5, 2016.Fight Factory Karate AssociationFFKA World Heavyweight Full Contact ChampionshipInternational Kickboxing FederationIKF World Heavyweight (-97.73 kg/215.5 lb) Full Contact ChampionshipInternational Sport Karate AssociationISKA World Cruiserweight (-88.2 kg/194.4 lb) Full Contact ChampionshipISKA World Heavyweight (-96.4 kg/212.5 lb) Full Contact ChampionshipKarate International Council of KickboxingKICK World Heavyweight Full Contact ChampionshipProfessional Karate AssociationPKA World Light Heavyweight ChampionshipProfessional Kickboxing CouncilPKC World Heavyweight Full Contact ChampionshipWorld Association of Kickboxing OrganizationsWAKO Pro World Heavyweight (-94.1 kg/207.5 lb) Full Contact Championship