Author Archives: Kumite Classic

UPMC Dr. Fu gives Karate Champion a shot at Gold

Dr Freddie Fu Gives Karate Standout a Second Chance

Luke Lokay Represents United States in Quest for Gold Medal

Six years ago Luke Lokay thought he’d never walk straight again.  This October Luke will represent America as part of USA Karate Kickboxing team in Cancun, Mexico at the PAN AMERICAN Championships.  His story of determination is one that inspires his teammates and the community.

Luke Lokay
Luke Lokay, Team USA Karate Kickboxing

In 2012, Lokay was in fourth grader in the Norwin School District where he was recruited by Sensei Bill Viola Jr. to join “Team Kumite” (an all-star traveling karate team).  Viola remembers, “I just saw something in Luke.  He had the intangibles I look for.  He had that the eye of the tiger—heart.”  I wanted to work with him and get him ready for the big leagues.” 

Lokay was poised to compete for his first national karate championship when a fluke accident sent his body and dreams crashing.  Lokay recalls, “I was riding my bike and my neighbors dog [Kippie] just charged at me.  He was just playing, but he knocked me to the ground awkwardly and pinned my knee.  I knew immediately something was wrong.”   Luke’s parents, John and Amy, took him to multiple specialists and hospitals in the area.  Initial emergency rooms didn’t treat him with urgency and said the leg wasn’t broken.  He was told to “just rest” the injured leg.  The recommendation didn’t sit well with his dad.  John Lokay recalls, “I wasn’t satisfied with what they were saying at all.  He was in real pain, and he never complained about anything.  I went out on a limb and ignored the prognosis.  A friend of mine told me to get ahold of Dr. Freddie Fu. That call saved my boy. He actually called me on a Sunday from New York.  He got us in the next day.”

Dr. Freddie Fu, MD – UPMC

Luke was rushed in for a 3rd Opinion where Dr. Fu (Chair of Orthopedic Surgery at UPMC) confirmed Luke had in fact torn his ACL, meniscus and broke his tibia that pulled into the knee cap.  The diagnosis was severe for anyone, especially for someone that young. Dr. Fu told the family that if he didn’t perform surgery the next day, the leg may never straighten again.  The Lokay’s followed his advice, rehabilitation and course of action. At the time, karate was out of the picture but Dr. Fu was optimistic that if Luke followed the rehab he could someday make a return.

Luke underwent surgery and began the long journey of rehabilitation.  Although he couldn’t train, he still remained active with his karate school by attending martial arts tournaments to cheer on his teammates.  Sensei Viola remembers, “Luke remained positive throughout the entire experience.  Most kids would have quit, but there is something special about him.  Everyone was rooting for him.  I’ve never seen a kid with such a serious injury be able to bounce back like he did.  His parents and his doctors did a wonderful job!”

Flash forward to 2018, and Luke is currently on a quest for Gold.  He represents the United States as a member of the prestigious 2018 “Team USA” and will fight at the Pan American Kickboxing Championship this fall.  In the upcoming months while other kids are enjoying summer break, 15-year old Luke Lokay will be training to compete at the highest international levels for sport martial arts.

Luke earned a spot on “Team USA” at the WAKO Trials in Kansas City, Missouri in February in the 63- Kg division and his teammate, 9-year-old  Xander Eddy, secured the 30- Kg weight class.  The selection process is limited to the current national champions officially recognized by their National Olympic Committees or Ministry of Sports.

Xander Eddy
Xander Eddy, Team USA Karate Kickboxing

Lokay, now going into 10th grade at Norwin High School explains, “Representing my country is such huge honor. I wasn’t supposed to be able to walk, let alone compete for a Gold medal. I’m making the  most of my second chance.  I’m dedicating this journey to Dr. Fu, who fixed me up.”  Lokay has been training at Allegheny Shotokan “Viola” Karate in North Huntingdon since he was 5-years-old.  Lokay and his training partner Eddy are the first US Team members to earn a team selection for The World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) from Western Pennsylvania.

WAKO is the largest international organization of kickboxing, and the governing body of Amateur kickboxing sport certified by SportAccord. WAKO is affiliated in 128 nations on 5 continents officially recognized by either National Olympic Committee or relevant National Government Sports Authority responsible for than 4,000,000 practitioners from across the globe. WAKO kickboxing was one of thirteen combat sports participating in the first ever World Combat Games which were held in Beijing, China under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).  WAKO is a member of the “Olympic Channel,” a multi-platform global media destination for the Olympic Games which includes other combat sports such as Karate slated for the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Luke will be traveling to Orlando, Florida in July for the US Open World Martial Arts Championships in preparation for the PanAmerican Championship.  He is in search of community based support to offset the financial burdens to his family to travel and compete.

About Luke Lokay:  Luke is a goodwill representative for the Western PA Police Athletic League (PAL) where is serves as an advocate for disadvantaged youth.  It’s a role his Sensei held when he was Luke’s age.  Loaky is also a “Junior Leader” for the University of Pittsburgh’s PIND (Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegerative Disease) 5K Kick-a-thon where he and his team raise funds to “Kick Parkinson’s Disease.”  He will kick for 1-mile straight non-stop on Labor Day to raise awareness of the cause.

For more info contact Bill Viola Jr.  724-640-2111

 

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Interview with Bill Viola Jr. Author of Tough Guys

Interview with Bill Viola Jr. Author of Amazon Best Seller ‘Tough Guys’

By Heather Holtschlag

Tough Guys (2017) Kumite Classic Press available on Amazon

Why and when did you decide to write Godfathers of MMA?

The real story of who invented the sport of MMA in America was in jeopardy of being lost forever. My father and his business partner created a regulated MMA in 1979, and I needed to set the record straight. They deserved credit and I was shocked that all of the history books available were clueless.  It began as a passion piece to provide information and morphed into the most the most comprehensive book on early MMA history.  My cousin Dr. Fred Adams and I took on the task of documenting a forgotten time and place for the sport.  We bring you back to the Golden Era of MMA.

What is the book about?

You get an inside look into the minds and events of the men who “mixed” the martial arts a decade before the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship.”  They created a new sport in the form of the Tough Guys. 

How did things with the movie get started?

Shortly after the exclusive preview run of Godfathers of MMA, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Robert Zullo stumbled upon the Tough Guys exhibit featured at the Heinz History center. The display recognizes Pittsburgh as the Birthplace of MMA. The display is located right next to Franco Harris’s immaculate reception and catches a lot of attention.  Zullo explains, “I couldn’t believe I’d never heard about this story. I was enamored with the time, place and machismo of the whole thing. I just had a gut instinct to meet these guys.”   Zullo reached out to his brother Will and childhood friend Craig DiBiase a producer [MinusL] and Director Henry Roosevelt from New York City. Zullo also got his Academy Award winning cousin, Ross Kaufmann, on board.  Two years later after 52TB of filming, the Tough Guys Doc was born.

When did the movie start in production?

Production began in the summer of 2015.  One of the feature locations was Allegheny Shotokan Karate in North Huntingdon. My favorite location was Ritters Diner which we retrofitted to look like a 1979 Dennys.  I played my father in a famous scence where we hashed out the name ‘Tough.’

Was it all filmed in Pittsburgh?

We had 18 locations from Florida to New York but the bulk of the footage and interviews were from Western Pennsylvania (North Huntingdon, New Kensington and Pittsburgh).

How did the name Tough Guys come about?

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Pittsburgh was the epitome of a blue collar ‘tough’ city.  This sport would be an open call for the ‘toughest’ guys on the planet to fight, so Tough Guys was fitting for the era.

Who starred in it?

The documentary stars the men who lived it.  We were fortunate to film the original fighters and pioneers.  One of the stars was Dave Jones.  He trained at my father’s dojo and actually worked for North Huntingdon Township as part of a ‘road gang’ and laborer.  Dave fought in the first fight and won by TKO.  He was fearless–I looked up to him as a kid.

Can you tell me about the production process…your role, how production went, any details you can add about the highlights of the movie?  I

had the unique experience to wear many hats on the project: the production end, consulting end, and even played a 1979 version of my father in the famous ‘Denny’s Restaurant’ scene. Since my book was the master outline, I had to on point.

When did the movie premiere?

Initial praise attracted a star studded lineup of executive producers including Academy Award® Nominated Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me) and Oscar winning writer Ross Kaufmann (Born in Brothels).   The world premiere of “Tough Guys” took place at the American Film Institute (AFI) Docs on June 15th 2017 at the famous Landmark Theatre in Washington, DC. It was screened the day after the mega Mayweather / McGregor announcement. The film sold out.

And when did it air on Showtime? September 15th

Will it be shown again in the future?  It aired all of September and October. Then it will be distributed internationally.

Do you have plans to write anymore books or be involved in any other movies?

After the Showtime debut, my commemorative edition of the book retitled ‘Tough Guys’. It just hit #1 on the Amazon Best Sellers list for sports today.  It’s received critical acclaim and we’ve been getting offers for a screenplay to turn the journey into a major motion picture.  That is my ultimate goal.  With the right team, I know this could an Oscar worthy drama.

An interview with the Bill Viola Jr. (Author of Amazon #1 best seller Tough Guys).

Amazon best seller martial arts

How passionate are you about MMA?

I am most passionate about teaching and sharing my knowledge.  It’s a family legacy.  All my siblings are black belts and now I am mentoring my daughter (Gabby) and will have my son William Viola IV who was just born in September on the mat soon.

What, exactly, is MMA?

MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is a sport that combines all disciplines of combats sports (boxing, karate, wrestling, judo etc.) fighting into regulated competition.  My father is credited for writing the first legitimate rule book in 1979. The UFC, the sports largest franchise, was sold for 4 billion dollars in 2016.  If Pennsylvania didn’t outlaw the sport in 1983, my father and Frank would be at the helm of that empire.

How can people get a copy of the book?

The book is available on Amazon.  Just google ‘Bill Viola Tough Guys’

Tough Guys #1 Amazon Best Seller Mixed Marital Arts MMA Bookbill viola jr author

Tough Guys in the News

Tough Guys IMDb

Showtime:  “Tough Guys” Sho.com

Madarasz, Anne.  “Tough Guys”.  Western Pennsylvania History, Volume 94, Number 3, fall 2011.

Bloom, Elizabeth.  “From Pittsburgh roots, MMA, UFC have grown to staggering heightsPittsburgh Post-Gazette.  February 19, 2016.

Page-Kirby, Kristen. “AFI Docs is your ticket to 3 world-premiere films”   June 15, 2017 Washington Post

McNary, Dave.  “ Morgan Spurlock to Exec Produce MMA Origins Documentary ‘Tough Guys’ (EXCLUSIVE)”  June 13, 2017 Variety

Klimovich-Harrop, Joanne.  “‘Tough Guys’ traces MMA’s roots right back to Western Pennsylvania”  Sept. 12, 2017.  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Whalen, William.  “‘Tough Guys’ documentary profiles local creators of MMA Viola, Caliguri”  July 8, 2017.  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Golightly, Justin.   “Showtime to Air New ‘Tough Guys’ Documentary on Early Days of MMA” August 29, 2017.  BJpenn.com

Sciullo, Maria.   “Showtime documentary proves Pittsburgh-area early mixed martial arts fighters were ‘Tough Guys’”  Sept, 15 2017.  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

‘Tough Guys’ documentary sheds welcome light on forgotten MMA tourney that pre-dates UFC 1”  Mike Chiappetta Sept. 15, 201.7 MMA Fighting

Bowen, Jessie.  “Who’s Who in the Marital Arts, Legends Edition.” September 25, 2017.  Page 365.  ISBN-10: 1387161539

 

 

 

MMA Family Tree

History of MMA timeline

MMA Family Tree

MMA Family TreeMMA Mixed Martial Arts Family Tree (check out this great infographic timeline on the evolution of mixed martial arts theory and fighting towards the sport we know today).

MMA Mixed Martial Arts Timeline

Endeavor Era 2017
Mainstream 2005
UFC-Zuffa Era 2001
Pride 1997
UFC-SEG Era 1995
UFC- WOW Era 1993
Pancrase 1992
Shooto 1986
Tough Guy Law 1983
Tough Guys 1979
Ali vs Inoki 1976
Bruce Lee Early 1970s
Gene LeBell vs Milo Savage 1963
Vale Tudo 1920s
Mitsuyo Maeda 1914
Karate & Judo spread turn of century
Pankration 648 BC
Dawn of mankind indigenous forms of hand to hand combat fighting develops around the world
Roots of MMA

This infographic timeline and family tree outlines the evolution of MMA from theory, to combat, to modern sport.  While the question of who invented MMA will never be answered, we can clearly define who created the first organized and regulated “American Sport.” CV [Caliguri and Viola] Productions created the blueprint for a multi-billion dollar business in 1979 by launching the first mixed martial arts league in United States history only to ignite a bitter turf war with a jealous boxing community over money, power and respect. Mixed Martial Madness reveals a clandestine plot that subverted a martial arts revolution that was poised to challenge boxing for preeminence as the king of combat sports.

Today, CV Production’s “anything goes” creation has evolved into one of the fastest growing sports in the world, albeit under the auspices of the Ultimate Fighting Championships. Nearly thirty years before the UFC garnered real mainstream acceptance, CV set up shop as the first mixed martial arts company in American history. Although enshrined at Heinz History Center in association with the Smithsonian Institution, you’ve likely never heard of them—until now. MMA is the sport of the 21st century: WOW Promotions popularized it, SEG Entertainment refined it, Zuffa LLC monetized it, but CV Productions created it. This is your exclusive ticket to travel back in time and relive the epic journey of the Tough Guys.

Long before the Octagon was in vogue or Royce Gracie made his pay-per-view debut; decades before the UFC became a household brand and while the likes of Dana White were still in elementary school; two martial arts entrepreneurs pursued a dream that would change the sporting world forever. Bill Viola and Frank Caliguri, promoters from Pittsburgh, set out to prove once and for all who the “Toughest Man on the planet” was by inventing a radical new “sport.” Groundbreaking—sophisticated—progressive; their competition transformed the barbaric spectacles of an earlier era into a modern franchise more akin to the NFL than the Roman Coliseum.

The rise and fall of the first Mixed Martial Arts championships in the United States is nothing less than a spectacular David-and-Goliath story populated by a colorful cast of characters who bring the drama of MMA to life. Professional athletes, barroom brawlers, collegiate wrestlers, self-proclaimed bad asses, and aspiring “Rockys” all went toe-to-toe in what was the first legal “anything goes” competition in America. The testosterone-laced rollercoaster ride was ultimately buried by back alley politics and special interests in an effort to protect the “sweet science.”

In 1983, with the stench of corruption still in the air, the Pennsylvania legislature banned the new sport en route to setting the first legal precedent for MMA—ever. Outlawed and blacklisted by the “Good ol’ boys,” Mixed Martial Arts would sit idle until an upstart UFC finally emerged in 1993. Unfortunately, their “No Holds Barred” format was light-years behind CV Productions in terms of rules, regulations and safety precautions. It would take nearly thirty years of “catching up” for MMA to come full circle and gain mainstream acceptance.  Godfathers of MMA is the untold story of the men who changed the game and a sport that was born ahead of its time.

Pick up the most comprehensive MMA history book available today.

mma history book

Kick Parkinsons

kick parkinsons

Norwin student leads fundraising efforts to “Kick Parkinson’s Disease”

 | WednesdayOct. 4, 2017, 9:00 p.m.

Galley led the group of 50 kickers by donating nearly $500.

PIND incorporates a “Kick-a-thon” portion where local martial artists literally kick for a mile non-stop alongside the walkers. Organizers believe it is the first of its kind in the region. Each of the participants kicked about 2,000 times.

The “Kick” concept was developed former state senator Sean Logan and Irwin native Bill Viola Jr., owner of Norwin Ninjas and Allegheny Shotokan Karate. Logan was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in his mid-forties and Viola spent years caring for his grandmother, who died from neurodegenerative complications.

“I’ve been looking for a way to fight this epidemic, and having my school ‘Kick’ for a cure was a perfect fit. Building character is an important part of martial arts,” Viola said.

THE KARATE STUDENTS DONATED MORE THAN $4,500 TO THE INSTITUTE, BRINGING THE 2017 EFFORTS TO MORE THAN $100,000 FOR THE ENTIRE PROJECT WITH AID FROM CORPORATE SPONSORS AND THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES.

pind kick a thon
Bill Viola Jr and former Senator Sean Logan congratulate the KICK Parkinson kick-a-thon participants.

 

Bill Viola Jr. Author of Tough Guys

bill viola jr author

Bill Viola Jr. is an Amazon Best Selling Author #1 Martial Arts book in America (Sept 2017) “Tough Guys”  The book is the inspiration of the critically acclaimed Showtime Television documentary that bares the same name.

bill viola jr author tough guys

What do an NFL star, a United States Secret Service Agent, Sylvester Stallone’s bodyguard, and Muhammad Ali’s sparring partner all have in common?  They were all characters cast in America’s original “anything goes” reality fighting drama, an “open call” that gave birth to a new sport—MMA.

Long before the Octagon was in vogue or Royce Gracie made his pay-per-view debut; decades before the UFC became a household brand and while the likes of Dana White were still in elementary school; two martial artists, Bill Viola and Frank Caliguri, set out to prove once and for all who the world’s greatest fighter was by creating a radical new “sport” in 1979.

Godfathers of MMA reveals the clandestine plot to subvert the “first” mixed martial arts revolution in American history, one poised to challenge boxing as the king of combat sports.  Confounded by a freak accident (death in the ring) and widespread corruption, a massive struggle ensued over money, power, and respect between boxing’s gentry and an upstart MMA company from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  CV (Caliguri and Viola) Productions ignited a bitter turf war with the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission that sparked a spectacular David and Goliath battle for leverage.

The legendary story, buried by rhetoric for years, casts a wide net reeling in everyone from politicians to mobsters, all with ulterior motives; all with eyes on a billion dollar blueprint. From boxing’s “Holy Territory,” the home of Rocky Balboa, to a bizarre connection with the Supreme Court that lead to the first legal precedent for MMA—ever, this is the ultimate inside look.

Godfathers of MMA is a testosterone-laced whirlwind tale of “what might have been” told by the trailblazers who fought for it.  Relive the epic adventure of the “Tough Guys” later known as Super Fighters (the first mixed martial arts league, long before it was labeled MMA).  Thirty years before the UFC gained a mainstream audience, KDKA-TV dubbed CV’s new sport, “Organized, Legalized, Street fighting” while the Philadelphia Journal proclaimed, “No holds barred as Superfighters take over.” Take a journey back in time to the “Iron City” and meet the fighters, the foes, and the visionaries who created the modern sport of MMA.

bill viola jr showtime

mixed martial arts history

mma history book

Academy Award-Winning Team debuts “Tough Guys” on Showtime

“Tough Guys” is based on the book Godfathers of MMA written by Pittsburgh native Bill Viola Jr. The book which he co-wrote with his cousin Dr. Fred Adams also documents Pittsburgh as the birthplace of MMA, which is now a billion-dollar business. Viola Jr. explains, “When most fight fans think MMA history, they immediately reminisce about the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) which made its debut in 1993.  My dad and Frank created the sport over a decade before the UFC.  This is the untold story.”

The movie is largely based in Western Pennsylvania and has strong ties to the city of Greensburg.  In fact, the last “Tough Guy” event was held in Greensburg  at “Hartys” on November 6-7th 1983.

Academy Award nominated documentarian Morgan Spurlock (SUPER SIZE ME) teamed with Oscar winning filmmaker Ross Kauffman (BORN INTO BROTHELS) to produce this film that chronicles the history of MMA beginning in Pittsburgh over a decade before the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) existed.

“Back then, my dad literally mixed up all the martial arts and invented the ‘Tough Guy’ competition not to be confused with Toughman, which was purely boxing,” Viola Jr. said. “Last year the UFC sold for $4 billion dollars.”

The film was executive produced by Spurlock, Kauffman and Spurlock’s business partner, Jeremy Chilnick. It was directed by award winning filmmakers Henry Roosevelt and W.B. Zullo and produced by award winning commercial producer Craig DiBiase.

Although Godfathers of MMA has already been written and published, Viola Jr. plans to re-release the book as a commemorative edition to coincide with the network debut of the film and will include bonus material, a new chapter and rebranded as Tough Guys to match the film.

According to Viola Jr., in 1979, his father and Caliguri dreamed up a contest pitting barroom bigmouths against wrestlers, martial artists, boxers, bouncers and brawlers, billed as a no -holds-barred new type of competitive fighting. “When the fights succeeded beyond their wildest expectations, they were swept up in a chain of events that ended in the first mixed martial arts ban in the nation when the Senate passed the ‘Tough Guy Law’ in 1983.”

“Tough Guys” recounts the inception of Caliguri and Viola Sr.’s first bouts and the colorful, crazy cast of fighters who made them a hit, as well as the politicians who prohibited it. The film brings to life a moment when the national martial arts craze was building to a crescendo as the economies of Pennsylvania steel towns were plummeting to levels of unemployment never seen before or since, breeding desperate men looking for a chance to prove their worth and earn some money in the ring.

“The film presents the untold stories of scrappy brawlers and martial arts promoters,” said Viola Jr., who served as an associate producer. “And, it covers a broad audience of Pittsburgh-area characters.”

For more information about the book, visit www.GodfathersofMMA.com.

bill viola jr karate
Bill Viola Jr. has been training in Shotokan Karate since 1979 under the supervision of his father (Bill Viola Sr.) the founder of Allegheny Shotokan Karate in the Greater Pittsburgh Area.

 

 

Tough Guys Tops Charts

Producer – Bill Viola Jr

Bill Viola Jr. is an actor and producer, known for Sisqó’s Shakedown (2000), Gridlocked(2015) and Warrior (2011).

Producer Bill Viola Jr

Filmography

Jump to: Actor | Producer | Stunts | Miscellaneous Crew | Self
Hide HideActor (1 credit)
2000 Sisqó’s Shakedown (TV Series)
Dancer
– Episode #1.9 (2000) … Dancer
– Episode #1.8 (2000) … Dancer
– Episode #1.7 (2000) … Dancer
– Episode #1.6 (2000) … Dancer
– Episode #1.5 (2000) … Dancer
Show all 18 episodes
Hide HideProducer (4 credits)
2017/II The Sound (producer) (completed)
2017/II Tough Guys (Documentary) (associate producer)
2015 Gridlocked (executive producer)
2014 Tapped Out (associate producer)
Hide HideStunts (1 credit)
2002 Clockstoppers (stunt performer)
Hide HideMiscellaneous Crew (1 credit)
2011 Warrior (consultant)
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2017/II Tough Guys (Documentary)
Bill Viola
2000 Making the Video (TV Series documentary)
Himself
– Britney Spears: Stronger (2000) … Himself
2000 Total Request Live (TV Series)
Himself
– Episode dated 21 September 2000 (2000) … Himself

40 under 40 Pittsburgh

bill viola jr 40 under 40

Congratulations to our very own President and founder Bill Viola Jr. on making the prestigious “40 under 40” List in Pittsburgh.

bill viola jr picture

Bill Viola Jr.   [39]
President, Kumite Classic Entertainment Corp.

Pittsburgh often is credited as the birthplace of a self-defense discipline known as Mixed Martial Arts.

Bill Viola Jr. is the author of the book “Godfathers of MMA,” which chronicles the life of his father, Bill Sr., and explores the world of martial arts as first developed west of the Alleghenies. The younger Viola is known internationally for his work in the martial arts industry, founding the highly regarded annual Kumite Classic in 1999.

He also was named to the U.S. Karate Hall of Fame in 2005 and was the winner of the Willie Stargell Pittsburgh MVP Award in 2011 for his work training youth in martial arts programs.

He currently is head instructor at his family’s Allegheny Shotokan Karate studio, founded in 1969, and he is the founder and producer of the Pittsburgh Fitness Expo.

The biggest thing I ever had to overcome … In 1999, I was in a car accident that ended my competitive martial arts career. Going from world champion to watching on the sidelines was complete culture shock, but the injury was actually a blessing. In rehab, I found my true passion, being a sensei (teacher). Seeing my students succeed is more rewarding than any title I won.

http://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/Pittsburgh-Magazine/November-2016/40-Under-40-2016/

bill viola jr 40 under 40

40 Under 40: 2016

Meet our 2016 class of 40 Pittsburghers Under 40 who are changing our region – and the world – for the better.

 

PHOTOS AT PNC PARK BY BECKY THURNER BRADDOCK | HAIR/MAKEUP BY TRAVIS KLINGER

People are drawn to lists, and sometimes when a list isn’t handy they make one up. Consider Jorge Luis Borges, whose fantastical prose lit up the world of Latin American literature in the 20th century.

He referenced a Chinese list — a taxonomy of different types of animals — and attributed its translation to a known academic of the time. According to this list, animals broke down into categories such as “those that belong to the Emperor,” “mermaids,” “embalmed ones,” “fabulous ones,” “those that resemble flies from a distance,” and even, “those that have just broken a flower vase.”

Scholars spent decades trying to locate the original list which, as it turns out, was stored safely inside Borges’ head and nowhere else. The French writer Michel Foucault referenced the Borges list in his book “The Order of Things.”
    

    

Foucault’s main theory was that the thinking of each age is defined by a single, dominant prism of beliefs and constructs through which we view things. Called an “episteme,” it set the boundaries for all knowledge and understanding at the time. The episteme for the pre-classical period was based on differences and similarities. In the Classical Period, it was all about order and measurement.

And, so on.

What worldview informs this year’s list of 40 Under 40? The conceit of the list is that Pittsburgh Magazine and PUMP invite others to nominate people who, not quite midway through life, have done something — or several things — remarkable. Community service, professional achievement, a general overcoming of obstacles that would stop the rest of us — or all of these factors can land someone on this list.
    

    

One of our honorees was inspired by growing up in war-scarred Ethiopia. Another founded a company that provides free, online language-learning to anyone. Still another seems to have succeeded in so many community organizations, she borders on requiring her own, separate list.

The list is so diverse, the personalities so disparate and the accomplishments so varied that fitting our 40 Under 40 onto a single list requires breadth of imagination and depth of understanding. None has broken the flower vase, nor have we noticed any mermaids. As to any “embalmed ones,” there always is a reception to celebrate this honor, so we’ll need to get back to you.
    

    

In the meantime, accept that at least on this list, we can include the term “fabulous ones” and not be accused of making anything up.

bill viola jr author tough guys

 

Pittsburgh 40 under 40

40 under 40

Bill Viola Jr. Named to Pittsburgh Magazine’s “40 under 40” List

The 2016 class of 40 Pittsburghers Under the age of 40 who are shaping our region was celebrated by Pittsburgh Magazine October 21st at the Rivers Casino.  For the past 18 years, Pittsburgh Magazine and the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project has complied a prestigious list to honor and recognize outstanding people ranging from CEOs to non-profit leaders who are changing the city for the better. These influential leaders are featured in November’s issue of Pittsburgh Magazine, now on newsstands.  The list is considered the premier honor for young professionals in Western Pennsylvania.

The process to narrow an entire city and region down to just 40 recipients is a daunting task that included a through selection process.  Viola Jr. caught the eye of the committee through his reputation as a leader in the martial arts industry and the recent award winning books.  As the author of “Godfathers of MMA,” his work is recognized at the Heinz History Center, in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institute with an exhibit that chronicles Pittsburgh as the birthplace of modern mixed martial arts.  The book, inspired by his father’s [Bill Viola Sr.] life story is the subject and basis of the film; Tough Guys (now is post production).

As graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, he is the creative force behind Kumite Classic Entertainment which oversees the region’s largest multi-sport event (The Pittsburgh Fitness Expo).  His resume includes film producing, talent management, journalism, and mixed martial arts historian.  He is a member of the Sport Karate Museum Hall of Fame and recipient of the Willie Stargell Pittsburgh MVP Award.  His most recent work is the creation of the “Sensei Says” martial arts curriculum, which has had a direct positive impact on the North Huntingdon community implemented with “Norwin Ninjas.”  Norwin Ninjas is the sister program of his families karate business (Allegheny Shotokan Karate) which his father, Bill Viola Sr., established in 1969.  The Ninjas teach life skills, and mentor kids to become future black belts.  Viola Jr. explains, “We build champions in life.” He is part of a growing Pittsburgh karate legacy that that includes all four of his sisters and his daughter, Gabriella Capri Viola, a Kindergartner at Stewartsville Elementary.

The award has garnered the attention of community leaders, as Viola Jr. has received congratulations  from The United States Senate, as well as the Allegheny County Council who issued an official proclamation honored Viola Jr. for his achievement, and praising his, “passion, commitment, visibility, diversity and overall impact on the region.”

The ceremony was is presented by Dollar Bank and in association with BNY Mellon, Carlow University, Junior Achievement, UPMC Health Plan among others.  The full list of 40 under 40 winners can be view at www.pittsburghmagazine.com

viola 40 under 40
Viola Family. Shelley Hunter, Addie Krisfalusy, Jenn Viola, Bill Viola Jr., Bill Viola Sr.

 

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