Bill Viola Jr. is a best-selling author, film producer, mixed martial arts historian and international karate arts champion who is currently President of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania based Kumite Classic Entertainment. His most recent book, the award-winning and critically acclaimed Godfathers of MMA, is available on Amazon and rose to #1 in the sports category with its commemorative re-release(2017). The book inspired and is subject of the documentary film, Tough Guys (2017) now playing on SHOWTIME. Viola co-produced the project which 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). Viola experienced the “Golden Era” of MMA firsthand as his father; Bill Sr. is credited as the co-creator of the sport (a decade before the UFC) by the Heinz History Center, in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institute.
Viola Jr. began his career following in his father’s footsteps as one of the most consistent sport karate competitors in the nation recognized as a multi-time United States of America Karate Federation (USAKF) National Champion and All-American Athlete. During his time, he was the most successful PKRA state champion in history and inducted into the Pennsylvania Karate Hall of Fame.
He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and moved to Hollywood, California to gain hands-on experience in the entertainment industry. Subsequently, he was accepted into the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio and established his own company, Kumite Classic Entertainment (KCE). He gained notoriety from theBritney Spears video Stronger (2000) and was able to network and build relationships with leading directors and producers.
His company’s signature event, the self-titled “Kumite Classic,” is regarded as the mecca for martial arts in Western Pennsylvania since 1999. KCE also produces the annual Pittsburgh Fitness Expo, recognized as the largest and most established multi-sport convention in Western Pennsylvania attracting sports and entertainment icons such as Lynn Swann, Franco Harris, Antonio Brown, Ice-T, and Royce Gracie over the years.
Viola has served as an international consultant, referee, coordinator for some of the largest martial arts events in the world including NASKA (North American Sport Karate Assocation) USA Karate, NBL (National Black Belt League) and WAKO (World Association of Kickboxing Organizations). In 2017 he brokered a partnership with Century Martial Arts and WAKO to produce the North American Open in Las Vegas, Nevada in conjunction with UFC Fight Week along side his friend Raymond Daniels (Bellator Kickboxing Champion).
Executive producers for Tough Guys included Academy Award® Nominated Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me) and Oscar® winning writer Ross Kaufmann (Born in Brothels). In addition to being part of the production team, Viola had a cameo in the film playing his father in the famous 1979 Denny’s restaurant scene where the sport of MMA was created.
Viola is developing the screenplay for Tough Guys and negotiating the deal for a major motion picture.
Viola is the owner “Sensei” of Allegheny Shotokan Karate, the gold standard for martial arts in Western PA (celebrating its 50-year anniversary in 2019). The family-owned and operated dojo is blessed with 3 generations of Violas who carry on the legacy. In 2011, Viola’s research and documentation of martial arts was honored with a permanent exhibit installed at the Western PA Sports Museum and Senator John Heinz History Center. The display recognized Viola Sr. as the co-creator of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts a decade before the UFC (the showcase is located next to the Franco Harris “Immaculate Reception”).
Jr. and Sr. are both official Sport Karate History Generals and recipients of the Sport Karate Museum’s “Lifetime Achievement” award. The duo was awarded the Champion Associations Willie Stargell M.V.P. Award (2011) for community service, a tribute that includes Michael Jordan and Muhamad Ali as alum. In 2017 the Viola’s were published in the book, Who’s Who in the Martial Arts – Legends of American Karate. The dojo is home to the only karate athlete’s honored with the “Positive Athlete” award and featured on KDKA’s Hines Ward Show.
Viola founded Kumite International(KI), a scholarship foundation (the first of its kind in the United States) through a partnership with Western PA Police Athletic League and Eckert Seamans Law Firm. KI allocated $50,000 in scholarship funds for karate athletes and made national news when Lynn Swann (The Chairman of President George W. Bush’s Council of Physical Fitness and Sports) presented the scholarships with Viola Jr. at his 2004 Kumite Classic.
Currently, Viola has made it his mission to KICK Parkinson’s disease—literally. After he lost his Grandmother to complications from the disease, he created a mobile 1-mile “kick-a-thon” in conjunction with the former State Senator Sean Logan’s PIND (Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases) 5K. In all, over the past three years, the PIND 5K event has raised over $1 million dollars through appropriations, grants and sponsors — 100% of the funds are earmarked for experimental testing and research in hopes of finding the cure in Pittsburgh. In 2018 Viola’s daughter Gabby was diagnosed with Indeterminate bowel disease, and in 2019 the two are planning advocacy efforts at the Capital to lobby for improvements to our healthcare system.
Viola is an Amazon best-selling author, journalist and blogger contracted by such publications as Martial Arts Success, Shotokan Magazine,Sport Karate Illustrated, and Sport Karate Magazine where he covered events in Canada, Mexico and across North America. He established Kumite Quarterly magazine in 2003, serving as publisher and overseeing distribution throughout North America until 2007. e
In 2016, he co-authored Go Ask Your Dad, an inspirational book about fatherhood which debuted on the Amazon best-sellers list.
In 2016 his work was honored by Pittsburgh Magazine who named him to the prestigious “40 under 40” list recognizing the most influential young leaders in the city. His latest project, CommonSensei is a self-help book aimed to teach high school and college age students skills they weren’t taught.
Viola Karate Dojo:
Over the past fifty years, Viola’s karate school has welcomed and transformed everyone from children struggling with autism to Olympic level competitors. “It doesn’t matter if they are a professional athlete or a teenager who is coping with bullies,” Viola Jr. says, “Each and every student is on their own personal journey of self-enlightenment and courage. Our goal is to help them reach their potential and go beyond.”
This formula of empowerment inspired Viola Jr. to package the family secrets into an Award-winning curriculum—Sensei Says®. This life skills education course is the cornerstone of Allegheny Shotokan’s sister programs Norwin Ninjas (4-7 year olds) and Nursery Ninjas (2-3 year olds). He is part of a growing Pittsburgh karate legacy that that includes all four of his sisters and now his daughter, Gabriella Capri Viola (2018 US Open International Champion) and new born son, William Viola IV.
Today, Bill is the head coach of “Team Kumite,” an all-star travel team that represents Pittsburgh on an international level. Most recently he coached Xander Eddy to Gold at the Pan American Championships in Cancun, Mexico who was honored by the Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and WTAE featured athlete. In 2020, the team is slated to compete at the Irish Open in Dublin, Ireland and visit Tokyo, Japan for the Olympic Games.
– Mr. Bill Viola Jr. over the years:
President of Kumite Classic Entertainment Corp. which owns and operates Viola Karate Inc., established in 1969 by his father (Bill Viola Sr., the co-creator of the sport of mixed martial arts).
University of Pittsburgh, Summa Cum Laude
BS Political Science, 1999
University Scholar, 1998
» Work Experience
Allegheny Shotokan Karate Inc., North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
Master Level Instructor, 6th Dan
Began training, 1979
State, National, International Champion 1983-1999
USA Karate Jr. Olympic Gold Medalist
Recognized as World Champion by Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1998
USA Karate All American Athlete, 1995-1999
USA Karate National Champion, 1995-1999
Kumite Classic Entertainment Corp., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania