Author Archives: Bill Viola Jr.

About Bill Viola Jr.

Bill Viola jr. is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania based Sensei, promoter, producer and award-winning author of Tough Guys.

“Sensei Viola” Day in Pittsburgh

allegheny shotokan karate
allegheny shotokan karate

“Sensei Viola Day” is September 23rd 2019 in Pittsburgh to honor of Allegheny Shotokan Karate’s 50-year Anniversary

WHEREAS, Allegheny Shotokan Karate, or Viola Karate as it is more commonly known today, was established in 1969 at East Allegheny High School by Bill Viola, Sr. and is celebrating its 50th anniversary of educating students in martial arts in Allegheny County and western Pennsylvania;

bill viola and karate family

WHEREAS, the family-owned and operated dojo has had three generations of Violas carry on the legacy of Bill Sr., who still teaches a black belt class every Monday evening, reminding students that karate is a lifelong journey; his journey has been recognized with the induction of Viola Karate into the USA Karate Hall of Fame who also named Sensei V the Man of the Year in 2003 and his being given the honorific title of Shihan; and

WHEREAS, Shihan Bill Viola is credited by the Senator John Heinz History Center in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution as the co-creator of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), a decade before the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC); in 2011, the Western PA Sports Museum established a permanent exhibit to honor him as one of the founding fathers of the sport; his life was the subject of the Amazon #1 selling book Godfathers of MMAwhich inspired a documentary film Tough Guys; in 2017 the Violas were published in the book, Who’s Who in the Martial Arts – Legends of American Karate; and

karate history

WHEREAS, over the past half-century, Shihan Bill Viola’s powerful brand of punches and kicks have translated some of life’s most important lessons: respect, discipline and focus; the confidence he has instilled in his students can be found on and off the mat, while the dojo remains the most successful sport karate school in the Pittsburgh region; and

WHEREAS, we are fortunate to have Allegheny Shotokan Karate in Allegheny County, and that the school, led today by the next generation of Violas, has not only served our communities but used its notoriety as an internationally-known and recognized martial arts school to further benefit charities in our community for generations.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that I, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, by virtue of the authority vested in me, do hereby proclaim September 23, 2019 as “Sensei Bill Viola Day” in Allegheny County. We congratulate Sensei Bill Viola and the Allegheny Shotokan Karate School on their 50th anniversary and wish them many more successful years to come.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the County of Allegheny to be affixed this 23rd day of September, 2019.

Rich Fitzgerald
east allegheny karate

WAKO – IOC Olympic Membership Kickboxing / Sport Karate

wako ico

WAKO  Kickboxing / Karate joins the IOC (International Olympic Committee)

wako kickboxing PA I am proud to announce that WAKO has officially joined the Olympic Family!  As director of WAKO Region 10 for the Untited States of America (which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, West Virgina, and Washington, DC) we are dedicated to helping train and field athletes for Olympic level competition. We have already seen great success at the Pan American Championships and World Championships for Team USA. The future is bright for sport karate in America.  –Bill Viola Jr.

wako olympics

wako ioc letter

IOC EB receives update on implementation of Athletes’ Declaration and other important issues

30 Nov 2018

The IOC Executive Board (EB) received updates on the endorsement of the Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration and addressed key issues for International Federations and the Olympic Movement during the first day of its meeting in Tokyo.

An update on the implementation of the Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration (Declaration) was given to the EB by Kirsty Coventry, Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission. After the official adoption of the Declaration at the IOC Session in October 2018, the Declaration continues to be expressly adopted and supported by sports organisations throughout the Olympic Movement as each of their congresses or general assemblies has been held.

Over the past few weeks, both the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) and the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) endorsed the Declaration at their General Assembly and Council meetings respectively.

At a continental level, representatives from more than 80 NOC Athletes’ Commissions at the PanAm Sports Athletes’ Forum in October and the Asian Athletes’ Forum in November fully supported the formation of the initiative and included the adoption of the Declaration as one of their Forum recommendations. Other athlete organisations to fully support the Declaration include the ANOC Athletes’ Commission, all five Continental Associations’ Athletes’ Commissions and the World Olympians Association. Others, like the Canadian Athletes’ Commission, have publicly expressed support.

On an International Federation level, the international Ski Federation (FIS) fully endorsed the Declaration at its autumn Council meeting, whilst the New Zealand NOC will begin the process of embedding the Declaration in its formal policies and processes.

Update on International Federations

The International Sambo Federation (FIAS), the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL), and the World Associations of Kickboxing Organisations (WAKO) were granted provisional IOC recognition for a period of three years by the EB. These three International Federations will now be able to receive funding from the IOC and can apply for development programmes, while full recognition has to be granted by the IOC Session.

The IOC Executive Board noted the very positive steps taken by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) to strengthen its anti-doping programme. The positive steps include the newly designed Tokyo 2020 qualification system, which links the number of quota places available per country to their history of doping and rewards clean sport; suspension and monitoring of nine national federations for up to one year each; the implementation of new strict anti-doping policies and procedures; the MoU between the IWF and ITA delegating remaining areas of its anti-doping programme throughout 2019; and no positive results to date from doping testing at the recent IWF World Championships.

At the same time, the IOC EB expressed its concern regarding the actions in allowing non-eligible athletes to participate in an exhibition at the recent IWF World Championships. The Board decided to continue to monitor the final report on the samples collected at the IWF World Championships as well as awaiting confirmation of a successful and smooth transition of key areas of the IWF anti-doping programme from the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport to the ITA as of January 2019. These elements will be further reviewed at the next EB meeting, with a view to the option of lifting the conditional inclusion in the sports programme of the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

Changes of Nationality

Changes of nationality for two athletes were also approved by the EB: Odile van AANHOLT (sailing) switched from Aruba to The Netherlands; and Brisa HENNESSY (surfing), from USA to Costa Rica.

Allocation of International Sports Events

The IOC EB decided to recommend to all IFs and other recognised sporting organisations that the allocation of international sports events to a country must include the necessary guarantees to ensure equal treatment for the participating athletes and sporting delegations. This is in accordance with the basic principles of autonomy and non-discrimination which govern the Olympic Movement.

Countries that will host international sporting events must guarantee these principles, and all international sports organisations concerned should not allocate any international sports event to a country that does not provide the necessary guarantees.

In this framework, the IOC EB took note with concern about the difficulties encountered by the Kosovan athletes to participate with full rights and without discrimination in some international sports competitions organised recently in Spain.

At the same time, the IOC EB welcomed the firm engagement from the Spanish Government to redress this situation, as expressed in a letter from the Foreign Minister to the Spanish NOC.
It guaranteed, in Spain, the participation of the athletes from Kosovo with all rights and no discrimination in relation to other athletes, in all competitions under IOC auspices –  this means all competitions organised by sports organisations recognised by the IOC.

# # #

wako olympics

WAKO USA is the United States’ division of the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations and the governing body of Amateur kickboxing sport certified by Sport Accord and now as of 2018 a member of the IOC. WAKO holds a world championships every two years, with youth (18 and under) and adults (18–45) on separate years; only national teams are accepted. Each member country can present only one competitor in each weight class. Competitors are commonly the national champion of their weight class in that particular kickboxing style and many are also officially recognized by their National Olympic Committees or Ministry of Sports.

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 IOC and SportAccord in 2010. WAKO once again participated in the 2013 World Combat Games which were held in St. Petersburg Russia in October of 2013 under the patronage of the IOC and SportAccord. Three rule styles were involved at the Combat Games – Low Kick, Point Fighting, and Full Contact.

WAKO USA and WAKO PRO govern and sanction the sport of kickboxing in three rule styles that compete inside a boxing ring: Full Contact, Low Kick, and K-1. WAKO USA governs and supports martial arts competition which takes place on a matted floor in four styles: Point Fighting, Light Contact, Kick-Light, and Musical Forms. Every two years the WAKO World Championships brings together the best athletes from around the world to compete in each rule style. Each of WAKO’s 85 affiliated national federations can present only 1 competitor in each weight class and the WAKO World Championships determines who truly is the best of the best.

Post from Roy Baker:

WE DID IT: Today, one of our dreams have been realised. WAKO has been recognised by the IOC as a member provisionally, at the IOC Executive Committee meeting today in Tokyo. This is the biggest step in the history of our sport. Special thanks goes to Espen Lund, and the legal team Francesca Falsoni and Nikolaus Gstättner and of course Barbara Falsoni. I AM PROUD TO BE PART OF THIS TEAM. This was an extrodinary team alongside and supporting our past presidents, Georg F. Brückner, Ennio Falsoni and Borislav Pelevich who had the energy and vision. It has been a long and tough road and something positive that our sport deserves. Now we must move forward, stronger, united and with a single vision. I am so proud today, I feel i am going to burst. THANK YOU to everybody that supported us along the way. WE DID IT #WAKOIOC #ONEWAKO

Some highlights of Team USA Members from Region 10 representing at the PAN AM Championships in Mexico: Xander Eddy (Gold Medalist) 🥇🥋

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.   


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:

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)

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. 




*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 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.


  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………..
  • -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.


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


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

Kick-a-thon Packet

Kick Parkinson’s Disease

kick parkinsons


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:

Top 5 Fundraisers:

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

5K In The Park

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:


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

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.


Tough Guys Premiere

bill viola jr showtime

By Jonathan Guth

GREENSBURG — The stars came out on Friday night at The Palace Theatre for a special showing of Showtime’s “Tough Guys” documentary that takes a first-hand look at what Brownsville native Bill Viola, Sr. and Frank Caliguri started 13 years before the first UFC event took place.

Viola and Caliguri, who co-founded the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), were in attendance with many of the fighters who competed in the first event on Mar. 20, 1980, at the New Kensington Holiday Inn, including Mike Murray, who attended Belle Vernon Area High School, and Dave Jones, who fought Murray in the first official bout.

bill viola jr, bill viola sr, frank caliguri
Author Bill Viola Jr

The fans, friends and family in attendance were able to watch the film free of charge and were able to ask questions following the showing, and the fighters and promoters involved signed autographs and posed for pictures.

The film is a must see and will be repeated on Showtime in case you missed it on Friday.

Without giving away the plot, it is a true story of the little guy getting crushed by “the man.”

Viola and Calguri’s first event was a huge success, with the first event being sold out and people being turned away at the gate, but following a few events, confusion between the “Tough Man” and “Tough Guy” contests, a death during a boxing-only “Tough Man” event and some politicians, CV (Caliguri & Viola) Productions was in trouble due to Senate Bill 632.

Viola’s son, Bill Jr., who is the co-author of the book, “Godfathers of MMA,” was in attendance.

mma history book

An exhibit at the Heinz History Sports Museum displays the first event that inspired the making of the documentary.

Obviously, there is a great deal of violence and language, so the documentary may not be suitable for all members of the family.

It is great to see these men recognized for what they have done but my only question is: Where was the UFC?

The biggest MMA company in the world was in Pittsburgh at PPG Paints Arena for an event, and no one involved in “Tough Guys” was contacted by the organization.

UFC President Dana White will probably never read this, and even on the one and a million chance that he does, doesn’t care what I have to say, but I think a tribute inside the ring would have been fitting.

Those involved at the event on Friday didn’t seem too worried if White and his organization would acknowledge them publicly but hopefully the film takes off and it has to be addressed.

“Dana White was probably in second grade when we started this event,” Viola Sr. said. “There’s no hard feelings. They produced a great product. They do not recognize us, but I think after the show comes out, the facts will speak for themselves, and I think we will get our day.”

Murray probably best summed it up with this statement: “Maybe Dana White should come here to this event and see Frank (Caliguri) and Bill (Viola).”

I totally agree, Mr. Murray.

Herald-Standard Sports Writer Jonathan Guth can be reached via email at


Tough Guys Showtime

Toughs Guys make television history on Showtime

tough guys showtime mma

Emotional day! In 2007 I set out to share the untold story of the “Tough Guys.” These are the men who created the sport of MMA while Dana White was still in elementary school and 13 years before the UFC existed. A decade later and my book (along with my cousin Fred) “Godfathers of MMA” is coming to life on SHOWTIME 🎥 The same network that just set PPV records with Mayweather vs McGregor, will broadcast the real origins of MMA in America. Pittsburgh is the “City of Champions” and now can add “Birthplace of MMA” to its banners! It may have been the wrong place wrong time… but it was one hell of a ride. Congrats to my dad and Frank on being a part  of American sports history!!!!!!! #toughguys #godfathersofmma #showtime  Thanks, Bill Viola Jr. 



June 12, 2017 – NEW YORK, NY Academy Award® nominated documentarian Morgan Spurlock (SUPER SIZE ME) teams with fellow Oscar® winning filmmaker Ross Kauffman (BORN INTO BROTHELS) to bring TOUGH GUYS – the story of the origins of the mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting phenomenon – to the big screen. The film is executive produced by Kauffman and Spurlock together with Spurlock’s business partner Jeremy Chilnick.

TOUGH GUYS is directed by two award-winning filmmakers, Henry Roosevelt and W.B. Zullo and produced by the award winning commercial producer Craig DiBiase. This moving and insightful non-fiction cinematic film chronicles the origins of the MMA beginning in Pittsburgh, PA in the early 1980s. Back then, these fights were known as the “tough man,” or “tough guy,” or “battle of the brawlers,” or “battle of the superfighters” matches. These fighting bouts have now achieved multimillion-dollar fight status.

“When I was around 12 years old, my dad took me to my first “tough guy” competition in my hometown of Beckley, WV,” says Spurlock. “And I have to admit, it was one of the greatest things I’d ever seen. So when the opportunity came along for me help tell the story of its origin, I jumped at the chance. TOUGH GUYS is an unbelievable tale about the creation of this one of a kind, man against man, skill against skill, sport of the ages. Films like this are rare discoveries, and the characters behind them are even more incredible. If you like watching guys get punched in the face as much as I do, then you are going to love this movie!”

In 1979, Bill Viola and Frank Caliguri dreamed up a contest pitting barroom bigmouths against wrestlers, martial artists, boxers, bouncers and brawlers, billed as 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.

Presented through the untold stories of scrappy brawlers and amateur promoters, TOUGH GUYS chronicles the inception of Caliguri and Viola’s first bouts and the colorful, crazy cast of fighters who made them a hit as well as the politicians who brought it all crashing down. 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 chance to prove their worth and earn some money in the ring.

“Like my previous films, BORN INTO BROTHELS and E-TEAM, TOUGH GUYS is about underdogs striving to achieve the impossible,” states Kauffman. “In TOUGH GUYS, the
underdog is America’s working class who are searching for respect and ultimately a way to survive. When I got involved I didn’t know how timely the story would be.”

TOUGH GUYS made its world premiere on June 15 at the AFI DOCS Film Festival in Washington, DC. It will make its network debut September 15 on Showtime.


ABOUT TOUGH GUYS Told through the colorful stories of scrappy brawlers and amateur promoters, TOUGH GUYS brings to life the birth of mixed martial arts competitions in 1980’s Pittsburgh. The idea to legitimize street fighting by putting it in the ring, brought big money, crowds, copycat competitions and ultimately scrutiny and tighter control. The film is directed by Henry Roosevelt and W.B. Zullo and produced by award winning commercial producer Craig DiBiase. It is executive produced by Oscar winner Ross Kauffman together with Oscar nominated director Morgan Spurlock and his producing partner Jeremy Chlinick.
ABOUT MORGAN SPURLOCK Morgan Spurlock is an Oscar® nominated filmmaker and founder of Warrior Poets, a New York-based production studio. His first film, SUPER SIZE ME, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004, winning Best Directing honors. The film went on to win the inaugural WGA Best Documentary Screenplay award, as well as garner an Academy Award® nomination for Best Feature Documentary. Since then he has directed, produced, and distributed multiple film, television and online projects, including THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD; WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN?; RATS; MANSOME; CNN’s INSIDE MAN; and more.
ABOUT ROSS KAUFFMAN Ross Kauffman is the Academy Award winning Director, Producer and Cinematographer of BORN INTO BROTHELS, winner of the 2005 Academy Award for Best Documentary. He is Co-Director of E-TEAM, a documentary about the high-stakes investigative work of four human rights workers and winner of the 2014 Sundance Cinematography award. He served as Executive Producer on the documentary feature IN A DREAM, which was short-listed for the 2009 Academy Awards and as Consulting Producer on the Academy Award nominated film POSTERGIRL. Ross is a Founder and Creative Director of Fictionless.

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, 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, “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” 

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