Category Archives: Events

Kicking Parkinson’s Disease

Fighting Parkinson’s disease

One “Kick” at a Time

What is KICK?

The “KICK” kickathon concept was developed Irwin native Bill Viola Jr., founder of Kumite Classic Entertainment, and former Monroeville Mayor and Pennsylvania State Senator Sean Logan.   Logan was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease in his mid-forties and Viola spent years caring for his Grandmother who passed away from neurodegenerative complications.  Logan developed a 5K to promote his “Do Something” campaign as means to encourage exercise.  Physical activity has been proven to be an effective method to combat Parkinson’s disease.  Viola partnered with Logan in 2017 to add a “Kick-a-thon” element to the 5k, and its growth has been exponential.  Viola explains,

“Last year the KICK participants raised just over $5000 with 50 participants. This year we doubled both bringing us up to over $15,000 with just two kicksathons.  The “KICKS” are a unique way to attract sponsors and big donors.  It helps us raise the big numbers.”

sean logan

Sean and Shannon LoganPIND offers a unique twist to the traditional 5K by incorporating Viola’s “Kick-a-thon” concept.  Viola explains, “There are a lot of in-house kick-a-thons that take place at schools, but none that actually kick for distance in the heat. This is the first of its kind.”  The estimated amount of kicks thrown by each participant was 1500 and with over 100 students, the total number was approximately 150,000 kicks.

The Viola Karate Dojo has made it their mission to KICK Parkinson’s disease—literally by assembling over 100 students kicking one mile non-stop though the racetrack at Boyce Park in Monroeville.  The students showcased their skill during record setting heat and donated over $10,000 to aid The Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases (PIND) for research.  In all, over the past three years, the PIND event has raised over $1 million dollars through appropriations, grants and sponsors.  100% goes directly for experimental tests in hopes of finding the cure in Pittsburgh.

Viola said,

“The cause is near and dear to my heart.  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.  My students exceeded my expectations. Their selflessness is incredible.”

9-year-old Mike Barone led the group of by donating nearly $2015 followed by 11-year-old Aidan Thornton ($900) and 5-year-old Madden McKeever ($800).   In just three years, through corporate sponsorships and race participants the 5k race, walk and KICK has surpassed over $300,000 in total donations for PIND which brings the grand total to over $1 million dollars in funds.

Viola has been involved in charitable work since his Senior year at Pitt, when he established Kumite International Collegiate Karate scholarships (The Acronym KICK). The partnership program with Western PA Police Athletic League and Eckert Seamans Law Firm allocated $50,000 in scholarship funds for karate athletes.  The program made national news when Lynn Swann (The Chairman of President George W. Bush’s Council of Physical Fitness and Sports) presenting the scholarships with Viola at the 2004 Kumite Classic in Pittsburgh.   

PIND 5k

Although Viola is known internationally for his competitive success in karate he says,

“Trophies collect dust.  Making an impact on the community is priceless. They are making a difference and learning the value of paying in forward. I tell them, every kick of kindness creates an endless a ripple in our community.”

PIND spearheads efforts to find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s Disease, Stroke, and Alzheimer’s Disease.  The kids have already made plans to “Kick Parksinsons” again next year.  For more information please visit:  PIND5K.org

The $1 Million Dollar Mark!!

PIND Event race, walk and kick Donation Breakdown 2016-2018

$125,000 PIND Race (2016)
$135,000 PIND Race (2017)
$145,000 PIND Race (2018)
$95,000 Pittsburgh Association Dinner (2017)
$50,000 Clear Thoughts Foundation Grant (2017)
$50,000 Clear Thoughts Foundation Grant (2018)
$150,000 PA Budget Appropriation (2016)
$150,000 PA Budget Appropriation (2017)
$150,000 PA Budget Appropriation (2018)
$1,050,000

Finding a Cure for Parkinson’s Disease One “Kick” at a Time

viola karate dojo kickers

Finding a Cure for

Parkinson’s Disease

One “Kick” at a Time

An inspiring group of martial artists have made it their mission to KICK Parkinson’s disease—literally.  On September 3rd 2018 the Viola Karate Dojo and their sister program Norwin Ninjas assembled over 100 students to make a bold statement and kick non-stop for one mile at Boyce Park.  The students showcased their skill and donated over $10,000 to aid The Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases (PIND) for research.

parkinsons
Madden McKeever raised $800 for PIND

The “KICK” concept was developed Irwin native Bill Viola Jr., founder of Kumite Classic Entertainment, and former Mayor and State Senator Sean Logan.   Logan was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease in his mid-forties and Viola spent years caring for his Grandmother who passed away from neurodegenerative complications.

phyllis Rossi
Sensei Bill Viola Jr.’s Grandmother Phyills Rossi who passed away from complications of the disease

Logan developed a 5K to promote his “Do Something” campaign as means to encourage exercise.  Physical activity has been proven to be an effective method to combat Parkinson’s disease.   Viola parented with Logan in 2017 to add a “Kick-a-thon” element to the 5k, and its growth has been exponential.  Viola explains, “Last year the KICK raised just over $5000 with 50 participants. This year we doubled both brining us up to over $15,000 with just two kicks-a-thons.

PIND offers a unique twist to the traditional 5K by incorporating Viola’s “Kick-a-thon” concept.  Viola explains, “There are a lot of in-house kick-a-thons that take place at schools but none that actually kick for distance. This is the first of its kind.”  The estimated amount of kicks thrown by each participant was 1500 and with over 100 students, the total number was approximately 150,000 kicks.

Viola said, “The cause is near and dear to my heart.  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.  My students exceeded my expectations. Their selflessness is incredible.”  9-year-old Mike Barone led the group of by donating nearly $2015 followed by 11-year-old Aidan Thornton ($900) and 5-year-old Madden McKeever ($800).   In just three years, through corporate sponsorships and race participants the PIND 5k has surpassed over $300,000 in total donations for PIND.

kick parkinsons
Mike Barone raised $2015 for PIND

Although Viola is known internationally for his competitive success in karate he says, “Trophies collect dust.  Making an impact on the community is priceless. They are making a difference and learning the value of paying in forward. I tell them, Kick with kindness and create an endless a ripple.”

PIND spearheads efforts to find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s Disease, Stroke, and Alzheimer’s Disease.  The kids have already made plans to “Kick Parksinsons” again next year.  For more information please visit:  PIND5K.org

Top 10 Fundraisers for 2018 Kick Parkinsons

First Name Last Name Amount
Mike Barone 2015
Aidan Thornton 900
Danielle McKeever 800
Grace Weingberger 726
Katelyn Regina 620
Gabby Viola 560
Riley Evans 363
Ariana Trout 325
Henry Francisco 210
Aaron Goettler 210
Rayden Galley 206

Christmas Kumite

2018 Christmas Kumite Saturday Dec. 8th

Directions:  255 Arona Road New Stanton, PA 15672

  • Doors Open 8:30 AM 
  • Black Belt Meeting 10:00 AM
  • Photos with Santa 10:00 AM  
  • Tournament Starts 10:30 Sharp!  
  •  Top 4 places in Black Belt Divisions qualify for WKC National Championships

Norwin Ninja Demo  set up a profile and then select division N-1 to sign up for the free demonstration.  You can also purchase spectator tickets here if you wish. 

 

 

CHRISTMAS KUMITE RULES

*rules are subject to change, please check with center judge for any updates. 

  1. RANK: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Black Belt.
  2. RINGS: Matted area for divisions
  3. JUDGES: All divisions have the option to use 3 or 5 judges.
  4. MAXIMUM DEVIATION: (only used with a 3-judge panel) .02 is the maximum deviation permitted from the “middle score.” This eliminates the impact of one judge altering the outcome of the entire division. This theory has been tested and utilized in national and international events.
  5. TIES: Broken by head-to-head comparison scores of each individual judge (treated as votes). The majority of votes (higher individual preliminary scores) will break the tie if possible. If it is a “true tie” (unable to be broken) the competitors will run their form again and judges will point (by show of hands) to the winner.       Running a different form is optional and not mandatory.
  6. PROTESTS: Must be made at the time of the ruling. Protocol is to ask the coordinator/scorekeeper to alert the center referee. If the situation requires further investigation the ruling can be arbitrated.. All decisions by the arbitrator are final.  *Protests can only be made by someone with an official coaches pass.
  7. UNIFORM: All competitors must wear a martial arts uniform with no foul or offensive language.
  8. AGE: Competitors must compete their age as of the tournament date December 2nd 2018.
  9. SEQUENCE: Luck of the draw is based on a uventex computer lottery when you register. The draw is 100% random and determined by a third-party.
  10. CLOSED DIVISION: A division is considered closed once the first player bows-in to perform a form or once the first sparring match is started. *Exception: computer-based or staff related errors.
  11. RESTARTS: 1 restart is permitted for under black belt divisions only.  No restarts for black belt divisions *Exception: restart for weapons that break during performance.
  12. SCORING RANGE: 9.90-10 (black belts)  9.80-9.90 (under black belts)
  13. TRADITIONAL: No gymnastics, splits, rolls, or creative interpretations. Any traditional uniform with a tie-over-style top is permitted. Patches and/or logos are a non-factor and permitted. A pure white uniform is NOT required, however the uniform should hold true to the standards of the style. Classical Japanese/Okinawan divisions enforce a maximum 4 kiai rule and based on unaltered kata.
  14. FIRST TIMERS:  First timer divisions are for competitors with little to no tournament experience. The purpose it to build self-confidence.  All competitors win an award.

TEAM FORMS

Team forms must have a minimum of 2 players.  No maximum.  The entire team must perform in the “oldest” and/or “highest rank” of any team members.  (Therefore teams can “bump up” divisions but not down).  Teams may perform kata or weapons.  Judges will score on synchronization, technique, intensity and creativity.

SPARRING (POINT FIGHTING)

  1. UNIFORM: No t-shirts or shorts. No exposed jewelry or metal.  No shoes.
  2. EQUIPMENT: It is MANDATORY for all competitors to provide and wear their own approved sport karate head gear, safety boots, safety gloves, mouth guard, and protective cup (males). Highly recommended but not  mandatory:  face shields, chest protectors, leg pad, arm pad, elbow pads and knee pads.
  3. WEIGH-IN: ALL players competing in a weighted division must weigh-in prior to the division (1lb allowance)
  4. BYES: All byes are randomly selected by computer based lottery. Competitors from the same school (not team) will not be matched in the first round if possible. *optional: logic is followed by same country then state.
  5. OUT OF BOUNDS: Out of bounds (exit) is when any part of the body touches outside the mat (tatami).  No points can be scored out of bounds.  Intentional exit or avoiding the fight: 1-point penalty.  A contact exit, force-out, or offensive player who steps out due to momentum is not a penalty.
  6. GROUND FIGHTING: Is not permitted. *Exception:1). All WAKO boot-to-boot sweeps are legal and are scored as 1-point if the opponent is deemed down from the sweep.  Momentum contact is not a penalty.
  7. DOWN BY CONTACT: A player is considered down by contact when any part other than hands/feet are touching the ground [knee, elbow, hip, or backside etc.] after making contact with their opponent. The match is stopped.  No Penalty.
  8. FALLING DOWN: A player is considered “fallen” down if they “intentionally” fall to the ground on their own accord (with or without contact).  1-point penalty by majority judges discretion.
  9. SCORING TARGETS: Headgear area, face, torso (front/side) with control, light or moderate contact depending on player’s option, skill level, and division.
  10. POINT TECHNIQUES: All clean martial arts punches, kicks, ridge hands, and back fists that use appropriate contact and form in the designated scoring areas. (Important: a hand or foot that touches the scoring area does not always warrant a point. The technique demonstrate martial arts merit). *This is a subjective matter, similar to  umpires calling balls/strikes in baseball.  Protests cannot be filed on judgement of points.
  11. SPREAD: 10-point spread (mercy rule) is in effect.
  12. SCORING: 1-point: hand techniques and body kicks. 2-points: head kicks and spinning body kicks.  3-points:  spinning head kicks, elevated (jump) spinning kicks (including cartwheel kicks). 1-point for sweeps (that cause the other player to go down). *WAKO-style either front leg or rear leg sweeps are permitted.  Player with the most total accumulative points after the 2-minute round is the winner. Preliminary tie: Sudden Victory (next point wins).
  13. Win BY 2: All “first place” matches must have a 2-point spread to determine the winner.
  14. ILLEGAL TECHNIQUES: Haymaker (swinging/wild punches) with no regard for control, strikes to the groin or throat, uncontrolled, excessive or malicious contact to any area, intentional striking to non-scoring areas (spine, joints, legs etc.), late hits, dropping to the ground to avoid the fight, intentional running out of bounds.LEGAL CONTACT:
  • -CONTROL:  No touch/pulled (Halo)……
  • -LIGHT: Touch…………………………….
  • -MODERATE: Slight penetration………..
  • PENALTY CONTACT:
  • -UNCONTROLLED:  Beyond legal contact (majority judges discretion)
  • -EXCESSIVE: Extreme penetration  (majority judges discretion)
  • -MALCIOUS:  Intentional excessive contact:  Automatic DQ  (majority judges discretion).
  1. PENALTIES: 1-point penalty points: (all infractions based on majority of judges) Uncontrolled contact to any area, intentional running out of bounds, intentionally falling (to avoid the fight),  intentional late hits, retaliation hits, unsportsmanlike conduct.
  2. DQ (Disqualification): is based on the majority vote of the judges (*or if the arbitrator is ringside and witnesses the infraction). Malicious contact is automatic disqualification. Incidental excessive contact, accidental contact and/or self-inflicted injuries that may cause swelling or draw blood are subject to discretion of the arbitrator after consultation with judges. Medical staff has the final say if a competitor can continue or not.
  3. INJURY: If a player is unable to continue on his own accord or is advised by medical staff to bow out due to incidental contact, accidental contact or self-inflicted injury then his opponent will advance.  Players will not        advance if they intentionally injure their opponent or use malicious contact.
  4. CLOCK MANAGEMENT: Black Belts: 2-minute running clock except final 30 seconds (clock is stopped on each “stop” break). Under Belts: clocked on breaks in final 10 seconds. Match over at “0” on scoreboard.
  5. COACHING: Coaches must wear an official coaches pass (wrist band) that is purchased for $10.00.

(1) Ten-second time out is permitted per match. Coaches must stay within specified coaches box. Only 1 coach per box.  Coaching without a wristband is a penalty. The timeout can only be used during standard match breaks (not during the flow of a match). A coach does not have to be a black belt (parents are permitted to coach with a coaches pass.  Coaches are only allowed on the competition floor when the specific division is being staged or in progress.  No coaches on the floor for forms divisions.

1-Point Kumite SPARRING 

All rules of normal point sparring apply with the exception of the winner is determined by the first person to score.  All 3 of the judges must be “unanimous” on the score.

TAG TEAM SPARRING 

Normal point sparring rules apply.  Create your own team, or partner up with a friend(s) from another school. Minimum of 2 players to make a team, maximum of 3 players. 2-minute matches/Total Points.  Each time a player scores, the scoring player must tag in a new teammate.  If a player is scored on 3 consecutive times, and automatic tag is made.  The “switch” or tag only takes place on the call/break by the center judge. 1-time out permitted per team. The team that calls timeout, may make a switch if they choose to.

*12/1/17 Version

*Condensed version of the official Kumite PRO-AM rules.

Division Ages Gender Rank Forms Ring
D-1 all m/f all norwin ninjas demo 3
F-1 all m/f all 1st Timers Forms 3
F-2 4- m/f all Forms 3
F-3 5 m/f all Forms 3
F-4 6 m/f novice Forms 3
F-5 6 m/f intermediate Forms 3
F-6 7-8 m/f novice Forms 2
F-7 7-8 m/f intermediate Forms 2
F-8 7-8 m/f advanced Forms 2
F-9 9-10 m/f novice Forms 1
F-10 9-10 m/f intermediate Forms 1
F-11 9-10 m/f adv Forms 1
F-12 11-12 m/f novice Forms 6
F-13 11-12 m/f intermediate Forms 6
F-14 11-12 m/f advanced Forms 6
F-15 13-14 m/f novice Forms 5
F-16 13-14 m/f intermediate Forms 5
F-17 13-14 m/f advanced Forms 5
F-18 15-17 m/f novice Forms 4
F-19 15-17 m/f intermediate Forms 4
F-20 15-17 m/f advanced Forms 4
F-21 9- m/f black belt Forms 4
F-22 10-13 m/f black belt Forms 4
F-23 14-17 m/f black belt Forms 4
F-24 18+ m black belt Jap/Okin 4
F-25 18+ m black belt Korean 4
F-26 18+ m black belt Chinese 4
F-27 18+ m black belt Open 4
F-28 18+ m/f 4th degree+ Masters 4
F-29 18+ f black belt Forms 4
F-20 18+ m advanced Forms 4
F-31 18+ m novice Forms 4
F-32 18+ f advanced Forms 4
F-33 18+ f novice Forms 4
Division Ages Gender Rank 2 minutes total points Ring
s-1 4 m/f all Point Sparring 3
s-2 5 m all Point Sparring 3
s-3 5 f all Point Sparring 3
s-4 6 m novice Point Sparring 3
s-5 6 f novice Point Sparring 3
s-6 6 m intermediate Point Sparring 3
s-7 6 f intermediate Point Sparring 3
s-8 7-8 m novice Point Sparring 2
s-9 7-8 f novice Point Sparring 2
s-10 7-8 m intermediate Point Sparring 2
s-11 7-8 f intermediate Point Sparring 2
s-12 7-8 m advanced Point Sparring 2
s-13 7-8 f advanced Point Sparring 2
s-14 9-10 m novice Point Sparring 1
s-15 9-10 f novice Point Sparring 1
s-16 9-10 m intermediate Point Sparring 1
s-17 9-10 f intermediate Point Sparring 1
s-18 9-10 m advanced Point Sparring 1
s-19 9-10 f advanced Point Sparring 1
s-20 11-12 m novice Point Sparring 6
s-21 11-12 f novice Point Sparring 6
s-22 11-12 m intermediate Point Sparring 6
s-23 11-12 f intermediate Point Sparring 6
s-24 11-12 m advanced Point Sparring 6
s-25 11-12 f advanced Point Sparring 6
s-26 13-14 m novice Point Sparring 5
s-27 13-14 f novice Point Sparring 5
s-28 13-14 m intermediate Point Sparring 5
s-29 13-14 f intermediate Point Sparring 5
s-30 13-14 m advanced Point Sparring 5
s-31 13-14 f advanced Point Sparring 5
s-32 15-17 m novice Point Sparring 4
s-33 15-17 f novice Point Sparring 4
s-34 15-17 m intermediate Point Sparring 4
s-35 15-17 f intermediate Point Sparring 4
s-36 15-17 m advanced Point Sparring 4
s-37 15-17 f advanced Point Sparring 4
s-38 18+ f novice Point Sparring 4
s-39 18+ f advanced Point Sparring 4
s-40 18+ m novice Point Sparring 4
s-41 18+ m advanced Point Sparring 4
WKC WKC Qualifier Black Belt Sparring
WKC-1 9- m black belt/advanced Point Sparring 4
WKC-2 10-11 m black belt/advanced Point Sparring 4
WKC-3 12-13 m black belt/advanced Point Sparring 4
WKC-4 14-15 m black belt/advanced Point Sparring 4
WKC-5 16-17 m black belt/advanced Point Sparring 4
WKC-6 9- f black belt/advanced Point Sparring 4
WKC-7 10-11 f black belt/advanced Point Sparring 4
WKC-8 12-13 f black belt/advanced Point Sparring 4
WKC-9 14-15 f black belt/advanced Point Sparring 4
WKC-10 16-17 f black belt/advanced Point Sparring 4
WKC-11 18+ m black belt/advanced Point Sparring 4
WKC-12 35+ m black belt/advanced 35+ Point Sparring 4
WKC-13 18+ f black belt/advanced Point Sparring 4
WKC-14 17- m/f black belt/advanced weapons tba
WKC-15 10- m all 3 person wkc team tba
WKC-16 11-12 m all 3 person wkc team tba
WKC-17 13-14 m all 3 person wkc team tba
WKC-18 15-17 m all 3 person wkc team tba
WKC-19 10- f all 3 person wkc team tba
WKC-20 11-12 f all 3 person wkc team tba
WKC-21 13-14 f all 3 person wkc team tba
WKC-22 15-17 f all 3 person wkc team tba
WKC-23 18+ m/f all 3 person wkc team tba
Division Ages Gender Rank 1-point sparring Ring
o-1 4 m/f all 1-point sparring 3
o-2 5 m all 1-point sparring 3
o-3 5 f all 1-point sparring 3
o-4 6- m novice 1-point sparring 3
o-5 6- f novice 1-point sparring 3
o-6 6- m intermediate 1-point sparring 3
o-7 6- f intermediate 1-point sparring 3
o-8 7-8 m novice 1-point sparring 2
o-9 7-8 f novice 1-point sparring 2
o-10 7-8 m intermediate 1-point sparring 2
o-11 7-8 f intermediate 1-point sparring 2
o-12 7-8 m advanced 1-point sparring 2
o-13 7-8 f advanced 1-point sparring 2
o-14 9-10 m novice 1-point sparring 1
o-15 9-10 f novice 1-point sparring 1
o-16 9-10 m intermediate 1-point sparring 1
o-17 9-10 f intermediate 1-point sparring 1
o-18 9-10 m advanced 1-point sparring 1
o-19 9-10 f advanced 1-point sparring 1
o-20 11-12 m novice 1-point sparring 6
o-21 11-12 f novice 1-point sparring 6
o-22 11-12 m intermediate 1-point sparring 6
o-23 11-12 f intermediate 1-point sparring 6
o-24 11-12 m advanced 1-point sparring 6
o-25 11-12 f advanced 1-point sparring 6
o-26 13-14 m novice 1-point sparring 5
o-27 13-14 f novice 1-point sparring 5
o-28 13-14 m intermediate 1-point sparring 5
o-29 13-14 f intermediate 1-point sparring 5
o-30 13-14 m advanced 1-point sparring 5
o-31 13-14 f advanced 1-point sparring 5
o-32 15-17 m novice 1-point sparring 4
o-33 15-17 f novice 1-point sparring 4
o-34 15-17 m intermediate 1-point sparring 4
o-35 15-17 f intermediate 1-point sparring 4
o-36 15-17 m advanced 1-point sparring 4
o-37 15-17 f advanced 1-point sparring 4
o-38 9- m black belt 1-point sparring 4
o-39 10-13 m black belt 1-point sparring 4
o-40 14-17 m black belt 1-point sparring 4
o-41 9- f black belt 1-point sparring 4
o-42 10-13 f black belt 1-point sparring 4
o-43 14-17 f black belt 1-point sparring 4
o-44 18+ m novice 1-point sparring 4
o-45 18+ m advanced 1-point sparring 4
o-46 18+ f novice 1-point sparring 4
o-47 18+ f advanced 1-point sparring 4
o-48 18+ m black belt 1-point sparring 4
o-49 35+ m black belt 1-point sparring 4
o-50 18+ f black belt 1-point sparring 4
Division Ages Gender Rank Team Events Ring
t-1 9- m/f novice Team Forms 1
t-2 9- m/f int/adv Team Forms 1
t-3 10-13 m/f novice Team Forms 1
t-4 10-13 m/f int/adv Team Forms 1
t-5 14-17 m/f novice Team Forms 1
t-6 14-17 m/f int/adv Team Forms 1
t-7 17- m/f jr. bb Team Forms 1
t-8 18+ m/f all ranks Team Forms 1
t-9 9- m/f all (minium of 2 people max of 3) Tag Team sparring 1
t-10 10-13 m/f all (minium of 2 people max of 3) Tag Team sparring 1
t-11 14-17 m/f all (minium of 2 people max of 3) Tag Team sparring 1
t-12 18+ m/f all (minium of 2 people max of 3) Tag Team sparring 1
Division Ages Gender Rank Open Weight-WAKO Ring
Grand Champion 9- m (Black Belt, Adv, Int) best of the best sparring tba
Grand Champion 10-13 m (Black Belt, Adv, Int) best of the best sparring tba
Grand Champion 14-17 m (Black Belt, Adv, Int) best of the best sparring tba
Grand Champion 18+ m (Black Belt, Adv, Int) best of the best sparring tba
Grand Champion 9- f (Black Belt, Adv, Int) best of the best sparring tba
Grand Champion 10-13 f (Black Belt, Adv, Int) best of the best sparring tba
Grand Champion 14-17 f (Black Belt, Adv, Int) best of the best sparring tba
Grand Champion 18+ f (Black Belt, Adv, Int) best of the best sparring tba

 

UPMC Dr. Fu gives Karate Champion a shot at Gold

Dr Freddie Fu Gives Karate Standout a Second Chance

Luke Lokay Represents United States Kickboxing / Karate Team 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.   Viola says, “We train the mind as much as the body by incorporating ‘mokuso‘ into our workouts.  I think this helps keep Luke grounded.”

dr. freddie fu upmc
Luke Lokay with Dr. Freddie Fu

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

 

# # #

2018 PIND Kick a thon

pind 5k

WHO is PIND?  Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases (Parkinson’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s Disease, Stroke, and Alzheimer’s Disease).

WHAT:  Community service is an important part of building character.  Our dojo is supporting the Annual PIND walk/run by establishing a kick-a-thon fundraiser throughout August.  Students will kick in 1-mile kick-a-thon and parents are welcome to sign up and walk along side them.

WHY:  PIND is an organization that Sensei Bill and all of the Norwin Ninjas and Allegheny Shotokan supports.  He lost his Grandmother and Uncle to complications caused by Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.  It is a cause near and dear to his heart.

WHEN:  July-August raise money. Collect sponsors to support you kicking for 1-mile.  Labor Day Monday September 3rd 8AM is the Kick-A-Thon.  Students will kick for 1-mile. It’s a challenge!  Get ready to sweat!!!!!! Actual Kick-A-Thon is Labor Day.

WHERE:  Boyce Park, Monroeville

REGISTER: *by August 20th to guarantee t-shirt https://admin.chronotrack.com/auth/sign-in-form

Kick-a-thon Packet

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

 

 

 

Kick Parkinson’s Disease

kick parkinsons

PIND Logo

Team Kumite Kick’s Parkinson’s Disease @ PIND 5K

8-year-old Rayden Galley, a member of “Team Kumite” (all-star karate team from Pittsburgh) was the top fundraiser at the PIND (Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases) 5K walk/run/kick.  Over 600 participants supported the cause held September 4th at Boyce Park in Monroeville.

Sean Logan Rayden Galley
Former Senator Sean Logan with Rayden Galley

 

PIND offers a unique twist to the traditional 5K by incorporating a “Kick-a-thon” portion where local martial artists literally kick for a mile non-stop alongside the walkers. It is a first of its kind in event in the region, possibly the country.  The estimated amount of kicks thrown by each participant was 2000. With 50 kids joining kick-a-thon category, the total number was nearly 100,000 kicks.

The “Kick” concept was developed former State Senator Sean Logan along with 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 passed away from neurodegenerative complications.

Viola said, “The cause is near and dear to my heart.  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.  My students exceeded my expectations by collecting donations.”  Rayden Galley led the group of 50 kickers by donating nearly $500.   The karate students in total donated over $4500 to PIND bringing the 2017 efforts to over $100,000 for the entire project with aid from corporate sponsors and the surrounding communities.

PIND spearheads efforts to find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s Disease, Stroke, and Alzheimer’s Disease.  The kids have already made plans to “Kick Parksinsons” again next year.  For more information please visit:  PIND5K.org

Top 5 Fundraisers:

  1. Rayden Galley
  2. Michael Barone
  3. Owen Orth
  4. Grace Weinberger
  5. Riley Evans

5K In The Park

kickers
Team Kumite, Viola Karate, Norwin Ninjas support PIND

The PIND takes an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to the study of neurodegenerative diseases and their mechanisms, including Parkinson’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s Disease, Stroke, and Alzheimer’s Disease. Through basic, translation, and clinical research, the PIND seeks to ultimately apply basic laboratory findings in the clinic, transforming the latest scientific findings into new treatments and applications for those affected by neurodegenerative diseases.

 PIND 5K Results:  https://results.chronotrack.com/event/results/event/event-22347

 

Walk to Cure Parkinson’s Disease, One Step at a Time

WHAT: Sponsored by UPMC, the Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases (PIND) is hosting it’s second annual 5K run and 1-mile walk in remembrance and support of all people with Parkinson’s disease. All proceeds will benefit PIND’s research on finding a cure for Parkinson’s.
WHY: Neurodegenerative diseases are estimated to affect approximately one in four Pennsylvanians in their lifetime. The goal of this race is to raise awareness and fund research for neurodegenerative diseases, which currently are not well understood by scientists.
WHO: Neurodegenerative disease patients, caregivers, friends and family members
Race Sponsor UPMC

Platinum Sponsors

Prism, Visit Monroeville, Staples, Monroeville Chamber

Gold Sponsors

Tyler Mountain Water, Power of Bowser, Pat Deon, People, Highmark Health, PNC, Senator Jay Costa, Cohen & Grigsby, Stevens & Lee, Parkinson Foundation of Western PA, Rivers Casino, Tom and Paula McCartney, Anthony Dolan

Silver Sponsors

Oxford Development
Pittsburgh Steelers
Buchanon Ingersoll & Rooney
Atlantic Coast Baseball
Bill and Sissy Lieberman
Boenning & Scattergood
Cutis Bray Memorial Fund
The Marbury Group

Bronze Sponsors

Mom and Dad
Congressman Mike Doyle
Walnut Capital
Dr. Koti Kondaveeti
EPI Engineered Products
Turtle Creek Valley COG
Aunt Martie
Aunt Patty
Senator Wayne Fontana
HDJ & Associates
Frank and Sue McCartney
Santa’s Kids
Direct Axis

http://www.wtae.com/article/fighting-to-find-a-parkinson-s-disease-cure-in-pittsburgh/12142022

Sean Logan spent decades serving the public as a state senator, mayor of Monroeville and head of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

At age 47, his new mission in life is to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease after being diagnosed.

“Once you find the diagnosis, you can dwell on it and it’s not going to change,” Logan said. “Myself and my family, we made a decision that we would do something.”

Logan has been working with doctors and researchers at the Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Oakland, where high-impact research is conducted on diseases like Parkinson’s, ALS and Alzheimer’s.

“I know the cure is going to come out of Pittsburgh. It’s going to come out of PIND,” Logan said. “Maybe getting this at 47 gives me five or 10 or 20 years to help find a cure.”

More than $100,000 was raised through sponsors and community members at the PIND 5K in Boyce Park last year. He hopes to raise more at this year’s event on Labor Day.

 

Is boxing dead?

is boxing dead

Boxing isn’t dead… but it will be soon

Is boxing Dead? No, but MMA will be King soon enough…

If you ask most people who invented the telephone, chances are the answer would be Alexander Graham Bell.  Bell was the first to obtain the legal patent for the invention, and as they say the rest is history.  However a quick trip to the library can paint a somewhat different picture.  My favorite contributor to this scenario is none other than Antonio Santi Giuseppe Meucci.  Many believe the Italian-American innovator championed the idea years before Bell.  The controversial legend of Meucci strikes a chord with me.  Regardless of who invented the phone, he still deserved the respect of his peers for his groundbreaking ideas. My father and Frank join a long list of figurative “Meuccis”; men who stood at the cusp of greatness but didn’t get any credit.  Be it fate or destiny, the UFC is the metaphorical Bell Telephone of mixed martial arts.  Nobody can dispute its success and rightfully so. However, CV Productions deserves an asterisk in the history books.

Over a century later the United States House of Representatives passed a bill essentially honoring Meucci’s contributions with some clever wording giving him recognition in the invention of the telephone” not necessarily for the invention of the telephone.” It would have been a moral victory had he lived to appreciate it.  This book represents a moral victory for CV Productions. Finally, a detailed account of mixed martial arts’ “Forgotten Forefathers” is documented.

The sport of mixed martial arts has come a long way since 1979 and even further since 1993. CV Productions took a groundbreaking step forward only to see the original UFC take two steps back when America was reintroduced to MMA in its pure unaltered state, a savage contest that boasted, “There are no rules.” It was a harsh “reality” check.  In a sense, they [UFC et al.] couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

As outspoken as Senator John McCain was of the early UFC, the mixed martial arts community actually owes him gratitude.  People have spent far too much time questioning his allegiance to boxing and his wife’s union with Anheuser-Busch [a major sponsor of boxing at that time] as the only motive to outlaw extreme fighting.  In essence, he did us all a favor. The inaugural UFC was spectacle, not a sport and without his public crusade to ostracize the contests, the Ultimate Fighting Championship we know today may not exist.

McCain’s actions sparked the “necessity” of more rules, regulations and safely precautions; ironically the same rules, regulations and safely precautions that CV Productions were banished for creating.  As a political science major, I can’t help but shake my head at the hypocrisy, but thirty-five years ago it wasn’t about “right or wrong”; it was about suppressing the threat of MMA.

The scales of justice were severely tilted by malfeasance, a fact fans would be hard pressed to dispute after digesting this book.  I’ve heard that necessity may well be called the mother of invention but calamity is the test of integrity. CV was tried and true under the circumstances, setting a standard for years to come.

Tom McMillan of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wrote about the advent of mixed martial arts in 1980, “Although contestants are allowed to punch, kick, and wrestle, the action is not as savage as its newspaper ads indicate.  There’s a doctor ringside, and the flow of blood is kept to a minimum.  The referee closely surveys the fighters and takes points away for illegal tactics. Viola told the Tribune-Review, ‘They wear gloves and boots.  It’s really refined.  One guy even brought his two little kids to work his corner.’ McMillian continues, “In other words, it’s a cut above the old ‘Battle Royale’ brawls in South America where the only rule was to call the undertaker living closest to the arena.”

Even though most readers weren’t familiar with the “South American” reference, it was an obvious allusion to the Vale Tudo matches of Brazil and the stomping grounds of the Gracie family.  McMillian didn’t know it at the time, but his words illuminate the philosophical difference between UFC 1 and CV Productions. It was a case of walking a similar path with very different destinations.

As for McCain and the MMA, it seems all is forgiven. On February 28th 2008, Anheuser-Busch announced that Bud Light, the world’s best-selling beer, would become the new exclusive beer sponsor for the UFC. The blue chip sponsorship agreement was renewed again in 2011; and Bud-Light continues to plaster the center of the Octagon today.

Boxing and MMA are still in a tug-of-war today, but the gap has closed considerably.  While boxing pays its marquee fighters more lucrative salaries, its star power is fading fast.  The Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao rivalry had kept the sport relevant among younger fans, but there is a lack of talent in the pipeline. On June 8th 2012, boxing’s creditability came under severe scrutiny once again following the controversial decision of Timothy Bradley over heavy favorite Manny Pacquiao.  Critics lambasted the outcome with a landslide of strong statements.  According to ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas, “Boxing is a corrupt sport;” a comment that sportscaster Linda Cohn made famous in the “twittershpere.”

According to some experts, the days of integrity in the sport of boxing are gone. Call it incompetence or corruption; either way it’s another self-inflicted black eye that has boxing purists and pundits calling foul.  The scandal is just another example of a disappointed and already diminishing fan base, one that has been suspicious of fixed fights overshadowed by Vegas bookmakers for years. Pacquiao has fallen further from grace, suffering a devastating knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez.  While boxing fans shelled out hard earned cash to watch PacMan kiss the canvas on HBO, the UFC treated its audience to a “free” PPV caliber card on FOX; a savvy move by Dana White and company. Punch—Counterpunch.

UPDATED: Pacquiao, tarnished by two losses, squared off with Mayweather in the so-called dream fight May 2nd 2015.  It of course didn’t live up to the hype, but was pay-per-view gold becoming the highest-grossing PPV in history.  Now that the smoke has cleared, what does boxing have left to offer young fans?   We’ll get to that soon.

Boxing may be its own worst enemy with no true structure.  Fans don’t always experience the best matchups and judges have relatively no accountability for their decisions. Boxers and fans alike feel disenfranchised, manipulated by conspiracy, greed and bribery.  For all intents and purposes MMA is monopolized by the UFC, an organized body that has the power to give the public fights they want to see with a unified champion. (It’s worth noting that Federal Trade Commission did investigate possible anti-trust law violations against UFC’s parent company Zuffa, LLC.  The probe was urged on behalf of the Culinary Union, an outspoken critic of the Fertitta brothers, who besides owning the majority stake in Zuffa, also operate a large “non-union” gaming business in Las Vegas, Station Casinos.)

Boxing still thrives among older audiences who reminisce about iconic figures like Ali and Frazier.  I myself grew up in the age of Nintendo, playing Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! and watching the “Baddest Man on the Planet” thrash everyone in his path during 1980s.  “Iron Mike” was bigger than boxing, a persona he took to an entirely new level. Tyson was ferocious; the most feared and intimidating man to ever step into the ring.  He acted with sheer malevolence, “When I fight someone, I want to break his will. I want to take his manhood. I want to rip out his heart and show it to him,” snarled Tyson in a 1988 issue of Sports Illustrated.

In 1990, the undefeated and seemingly invincible Tyson was upset by James Buster Douglas, a 42-1 underdog, shattering the undisputed image for millions of fans.  I watched in disbelief as Tyson fumbled to find his mouthpiece, down for the count. It was one of the biggest upsets in sports history and in some strange way opened the door for a resurgence of MMA.  With the UFC looming on the horizon, it wouldn’t take long for Royce Gracie to claim the title as the new “Baddest man on the planet.”  Tyson was out and Gracie was in; a changing of the guard.

In recent years, boxing and MMA diehards have begun choosing sides. While the stereotypical UFC-type comment remains, “Boxing is your Grandfather’s sport,” The boxing “establishment” has also gone on the offensive; Ding-ding-ding.  Let the mudslinging begin.

In an interview with Ariel Helwani for Fanhouse.com, Bob Arum [Top Rank Boxing] refers to MMA as “garbage” and offers a skewed view of its audience, “UFC are a bunch of skinhead white guys watching people in the ring who also look like skinhead white guys.”  He continues his rant, “For me, and people like me, it is not something they ever care to see. They’ve watched it. It’s horrible. Guys rolling around like homosexuals on the ground. It is not a sport that shows great, great talent.”  As for Dana White [UFC President] he doesn’t sugarcoat his feelings about Arum, “I can’t stand him, he makes me sick… He’s a phony, he’s a liar, he’s what I hated about boxing when I was growing up. He’s one of these lying two-faced pigs who has destroyed the sport of boxing.” Further, “He’s a scumbag who actually thinks he’s a pillar of society who destroyed the entire sport of boxing and has done lots of dirty things.”  Whether it’s 1979 or 2013, it seems as if some things will never change.

In a sense, the times have changed though, and today if you ask any kid who the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World is, you’ll likely get a blank stare. I’m afraid boxing has lost some of its charisma and will continue to have a difficult time winning over new young fight fans.  While a faction of boxing’s hierarchy clings to hope that the sport can remain viable, other experts have offered a more candid forecast of the  future.  Boxing examiner Charles Jay stated in 2011, “Boxing is now behind and is playing a game of catch-up that it will not likely to win, and there is, at this moment, no ‘Hail Mary’ in the playbook.”

As we watch the scenario unfold, power players continue to weigh in on the subject. On June 14, 2012 Mike Tyson was asked by complexsports.com, “Do you see that sport [mixed martial arts] as a threat to boxing? Or do you think they could coexist?  His response, “Hey, listen man, a threat to boxing? It’s already defeated boxing. It’s all about MMA right now.”  It was an inevitable reaction, one that boxing promoters have dreaded for decades and why CV was shut down.

Boxing and MMA started sparring in 1979, knocking CV Productions to the canvas by 1983… it was merely round one of a thirty year title fight, one that is only now approaching the final bell. Regis Accettulla may have been the Pennsylvania Athletic Commissioner in the 1980s, but he was a de facto bodyguard for boxing. There was no sense of reasoning, no Larry Hazzards or Marc Ratners in the fold.  Today, ideology has changed, and leaders like Ratner accept the boxing/mma dynamic in a very different way.  His analogy, “In real life I have two kids, and in my sporting life I also have two. My older child is boxing, my younger child is mixed-martial-arts, and I love them both.” That’s compromise.  I just can’t help but think what might have been—where the Super Fighters would have gone.

The boxing versus MMA saga will ultimately be determined by the next generation.  From my perspective mixed martial arts, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and grappling schools are thriving, while many boxing gyms are struggling to keep their doors open. Teenagers today wear BJJ Apparel and  clothes while dreaming about entering the octagon.  MMA is trendy and gaining momentum.  While there is certainly room for both sports to flourish, Mixed Martial Arts has undoubtedly poised itself to challenge the “King.”  Fans can make their own predictions of who will ultimately take the crown, but personally I am betting on the dream of two men, Bill Viola and Frank Caliguri.

is boxing dead

Boxing vs MMA

The climate has changed since the original release of Godfathers of MMA (2014) but the boxing / MMA dynamic has never been more prevalent.  In 2016 the Feritta brother’s cashed out of the MMA game to the tune of an unprecedented $4 billion (that’s with a “B”), passing the torch to WME-IMG.  New ownership began cleaning house; trimming the fat by eliminating legacy positions and ousting everyone from commentators to matchmakers; but two things remained constant: 1. Dana White (who inked a 5-year deal) and 2.  The haves and haves-not (aka underpaid fighters).  As many experts label the gap as exploitation, athletes have been forced to think outside the box.

While UFC 3.0 was busy adjusting operations, their biggest asset was flirting with the “enemy.”  Connor McGregor, the UFC’s poster boy, began courting pretty boy Floyd, taunting him to come out of retirement for some “fantasy” fisticuffs.  The industry response:  “This is a joke!”  A year later and the one they call “Notorious” was able to broker the most lucrative fight in HISTORY weighing-in with more twitter jabs than boxing wins.  In the image of Ali vs Inoki, Connor scored the ultimate prom date and the two most polarizing figures in combat sports are set to dance August 26th at MGM Grand.

McGregor stands to be the wealthiest “MMA” athlete in history (his cut estimated upwards of $100 million) from a boxing contest? I say “contest” because “it is what it is.”  Floyd is one of the best P4P fighters of all-time, and Connor is a 0-0 novice in the professional squared circle.  The Irishman (who at one point was collecting welfare checks) earned a paltry $16,000 in his UFC debut (April 2013). Although he currently leads the roster (disclosed pay of $3 million for UFC 202), it pales in comparison to comparable boxers.  Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Connor is a marketing juggernaut. Win or lose, he wins!  If by some miracle he lands the Hail Mary “puncher’s chance,” he’s instantly immortal.  If he loses, he was supposed to! Either way he bags the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow that “he” hustled—Genius. The entire scenario takes us back to 1979 and the allure of the Tough Guy Contest.  McGregor vs Mayweather isn’t about boxing per se, it’s a “what if” contest.  Boxing fans are salivating to see Connor get his ass kicked, while some MMA junkies still believe in Lucky Charms.  Connor is an “average Joe” in the world of pugilism and yet the age old question still has a billion dollar answer.

I’d be remiss not give CV Productions a preverbal pat on the back; they created a business model with market share in line with other professional franchises at the time.  In 1980 the average NFL salary was $78,657 and the Tough Guy Champion was slated to take home 100K.  With a nearly 14-year jump start on the UFC, it begs to ask the obvious; would such a gap and disparity between boxing and MMA exist today if the sport wasn’t outlawed?  Chalk it up to another reoccurring, “what if?”

Read about the 40 year struggle between boxing and MMA in the book “Tough Guys” www.godfathersofmma.com 

Tough Guys Documentary

Tough Guys Doc

‘Tough Guys’ documentary profiles local creators of MMA Viola, Caliguri

 | SaturdayJuly 8, 2017, 10:09 p.m.

If nice guys finish last, then tough guys almost always come out on top.

Renowned local martial arts instructors Frank Caliguri and Bill Viola already believed that, and after more than 35 years, their work came to fruition with the June premiere of the feature-length documentary “Tough Guys” at the 2017 AFI Docs Film Festival last month in Washington, D.C.

The film details the early days of mixed martial arts, which Caliguri and Viola created in the late 1970s. Then known as “Tough Guy Championships,” the first competition took place in March 1980 in New Kensington.

“It was really amazing when you think of two small-town guys and on a national level,” said Viola, of North Huntingdon. “This documentary is going everywhere. We reached for that star 35 years ago, and all of the sudden it’s coming back to us.”

The buzz surrounding the film made tickets for the one-time showing tough to get. Of the 118 documentary films that premiered during the five-day festival, held June 14-18, “Tough Guys” holds the distinction of being the first film to sell out while also being recognized as one of the festival’s 10 “Spotlight Films.”

“It was kind of awing to be a part of this,” said Caliguri, of Lower Burrell. “It was awesome, and I couldn’t believe how they put this together.”

It was late 1978 when Viola and Caliguri met at the Monroeville Denny’s restaurant and asked the age-old question: Who would win a fight between Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee and Bruno Sammartino? It was a question that gave birth to a sport with roots firmly planted in Western Pennsylvania and became widely popular in the 21st century with the help of organizations like the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

“We called it ‘combined fighting.’ Mixed martial arts is a term they’ve used over the past few years,” Viola said. “(Frank and I) knew that it had to be a combination of all the (fighting) disciplines for there to be a winner.”

But while Caliguri and Viola set out to answer the age-old question, the state of Pennsylvania stepped in and shut down “Tough Guy” contests in large part because the state had no governing jurisdiction over “combined fighting” events like it had over boxing and professional wrestling. Caliguri and Viola sanctioned the contests under CV Productions. The state legislature became the first in the country to pass a ban on all mixed martial arts fighting and specifically named CV Productions in its ruling.

Not until 2007 did mixed martial arts competitions become legal in the state.

“We were selling out our shows and boxing wasn’t doing anything, and we didn’t fall under the jurisdiction of the state athletic commission, so they weren’t getting their 5 percent (of the earnings),” Caliguri said. “At that time, they were nickel-and-diming us to death with legal stuff.”

And just like that, Caliguri and Viola were advised to quit promoting “Tough Guy” contests in early 1981, leaving the age-old question to go on unanswered.

“They legalized it 15 years after me and Frank started it,” Viola said. “It’s like inventing the TV, and we can’t turn it on for 15 years.”

Year’s later, Viola’s son, Bill Jr., figured it was time to set the record straight as to the origin of the sport of MMA before revisionist’s history took over and completely wiped out Caliguri and his father’s accomplishments. He co-authored with Fred Adams the book “Godfathers of MMA: The Birth of an American Sport,” which became the basis for the documentary.

“My motivation was Frank and my dad had this billion-dollar idea back in the late ’70s and had a shot at doing it, but things weren’t in their favor at the time,” Bill Jr. said. “I knew in the back of my head that this was nothing new. I felt it my duty to tell this story before it was lost forever.

“The integrity of the sport was in jeopardy.”

Before the documentary was made, “Tough Guys” still was seeking legitimacy and credibility in a sport where the fan base rose dramatically since its mainstream and commercial debut in the mid-1990s.

Then came CV Productions’ public relations representative Mike Murray, who after seeing a commercial for the Heinz History Center Sports Museum, set out to make the claim that MMA was rooted in Western Pa.

Murray and Dave Jones hold the distinction of fighting in the first “Tough Guys” match when CV Productions held the event in front of an over-capacity crowd at the New Kensington Holiday Inn in 1980. Jones got the better of Murray that night as Murray’s corner man threw in the towel with 8 seconds remaining in the match.

The Heinz History Center Sports Museum’s exhibit, “Pioneers of MMA,” opened in 2010.

“I thought we were the first MMA league, and I called the curator and finally after a few months (the curator) said get some documentation together, bring it down and we’ll go over it,” Murray said. “Finally after almost eight or nine months she called me one day and said they were going to do it and called me a few months later and said they were going to open the exhibit.”

The Heinz History Center exhibit caught the eye of W.B. Zullo, who co-directed “Tough Guys” with Henry Roosevelt. Renowned directors Ross Kaufmann — Zullo’s cousin, who won an Academy Award in 2004 for best director in the feature-length documentary category for his film “Born into Brothels” — and Morgan Spurlock — whose film “Super Size Me” was bested for the Oscar by “Born into Brothels” — came to the film as executive producers.

“It was an amazing story and a story that nobody really knows,” Spurlock said.

“Good things take time. These guys are such underdogs, and it’s what a real ‘Rocky’ drama is all about.”

Everybody is tight-lipped about the future of “Tough Guys,” but people will get a chance to view the documentary in the near future as the film’s directors are in talks with studios.

The plan is to hold a Pittsburgh premiere once a deal is reached. Caliguri said theBenedum Center would be ideal for the “Tough Guys” premiere, as it is the former Stanley Theater, where the first Tough Guy finals matches were held April 18, 1980.

“The people were cheering the whole way through because it was a such crazy movie,” Caliguri said. “They all stood up, cheered and clapped when it was over.”

William Whalen is a freelance writer.

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