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.

Karate 2020 Olympics

karate 2020 olympics

Karate 2020 Olympics

From Sport Karate Illustrated, May 2016: -By Bill Viola Jr.

karate olympics

Judo made its Olympic debut in 1964, Tae Kwon Do in 2000. Karate, however, has yet to make an appearance.  Although poised, seemingly forever, karate has been rejected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on three separate occasions; Beijing, London and Rio games.  Why- oh-why has karate been shutout from the Olympic stage for so long?  Long story short: Politics.  Who is to say what style of karate is best?  Compound that problem with egos attached to those styles and well… you can see why we have been absent.

I personally grew up amidst the Olympic hubbub of the 80s and 90s as my father was a regional director for the USA Karate Federation (then National Governing Body for Karate under the US Olympic Committee and member of the World Union of Karate-Do Organizations (WUKO).  Excitement mounted as my family was invited to the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea for Tae Kwon Do’s inaugural demonstration.  Back then, the “talk” was karate is next!   Naturally, our dojo jumped at the opportunity and churned out numerous USA Team members who traveled the globe in quest of Olympic status (none more prolific than Doug Selchan, America’s most dominant Kumite Champion of the era).  WUKO sat in the driver’s seat speeding toward an Olympic dream—one that ultimately sputtered.  Sadly, every four years the hype train rolled into the United States with all its fanfare and visions of Olympic rings, and time and time again left us holding broken promises.  The base was disheartened.

Many, including myself, grew weary of the power struggle and drifted away until Tokyo was announced as the home for the 2020 Olympics. The IOC gives the host city influence in nominating additional sports, so karate with its roots in Okinawa, rose as a top contender shortlisted among four other candidates including sports climbing, surfing, skateboarding, and a combined bid of baseball and softball.   A final decision will be taken at the 129th IOC Session in Rio in August 2016.

Just as Korea positioned Tae Kwon Do as an exhibition, collectively we cross our fingers that Japan will carry the same weight for karate as it did for Judo in the 1960s.  The World Karate Federation (WKF), the successor to WUKO, has positioned itself under the IOC to make history.  Its groundbreaking news I’ve waited over thirty years to witness.  I sat down with some WKF competitors to hear their thoughts:  USANKF TEAM MEMBERS: Kieran Tamondong“Having karate in the Olympics gives kids like me an ultimate goal.”  Adrian Galvan“Amazing, it’s the biggest stage.” Ariel Torres: “I’m honored to be a part of the movement.”  Marissa Meandro, Karate Canada Team Member:  “Each tournament is an experience that will hopefully lead to the Olympics.”

The Kumite Classic May 27-28th is a National Qualifier for the USANKF.  Now is your chance to try out Olympic-style competition.  More info:

Bill Viola Jr. is a Pittsburgh based martial arts promoter, author and producer of the Annual Kumite Classic.  He is the head instructor at Allegheny Shotokan Karate (member of the USANKF) founded by his father Bill Viola Sr. in 1969. 



Everyone has a chance to win an iWatch at the 2016 Kumite Classic.  The more divisions you enter, the better you chances.  A point value is added to each 1st-8th place finish you win at the tournament.  The competitor with the most overall points has proved themselves to be the best all-around competitor and win will the “Ultimate Warrior” championship.  Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Elite, and Jr. Black Belt all have their separate divisions!  Good Luck!


kumite classic win iwatch

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Tough Guys made history

A new documentary about the history of mixed martial arts has begun filming in the Greater Pittsburgh area. MinusL, a production company based out of New York, NY has secured the rights to produce the new feature.

Ten years before the debut of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, two local martial arts promoters and their fighters, a rough group of barroom brawlers, bikers, teachers and steel workers, pioneered the first mixed-martial arts league in the nation.

The first Tough Guy Contest took place March 20, 1980 in New Kensington, PA. The company organized a league of events and promoted over 10 competitions across Pennsylvania under the banner of “Battle of the Brawlers,” “Battle of the Tough Guys,” “Tough Guy Contests” and finally re branding to “Super Fighters” throughout 1980. Notable locations included the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, Johnstown War Memorial, and the Philadelphia Civic Center.

CV (Caliguri and Viola) Productions was the first MMA based promotional company in American history, established in 1979.

Bill Viola
wrote the first codified set of mixed martial arts rules in 1979; implemented in over 130 bouts. Those standards parallel the unified rules of today.

The World Martial Arts Fighting Association (WMAFA) sanctioned all CV Productions events and was the first regulatory body for mixed martial arts in the United States.

CV Productions introduced open regulated mixed martial arts competitions to the United States March 20, 1980 in Pittsburgh, PA with the inaugural “Battle of the Tough Guys” championship. This was the first commercial MMA success and the beginning of a new sport.

Later in 1980, the “Tough Guys” were rebranded as Super Fighters to accommodate a professional fighting image: The “Super Fighters League” (SFL). This was the first MMA league of its kind and set the tone for mainstream mixed martial arts.

Pennsylvania became the first state in history to set a legal precedent for mixed martial arts, officially banning the sport of MMA with the passage of Senate Bill 632 (Session of 1983 Act 1983-62).

mma banned
The groundbreaking law was drafted specifically to outlaw CV Productions’ events and provided detailed language that defined mixed martial arts competition by prohibiting:


Ten years after the passage of Senate Bill 632, the first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) would debut in 1993.

More Reading:

Tough Guy Contest

Godfathers of MMA book

CV (Caliguri and Viola) Productions Inc. just launched a new website dedicated to the first MMA competition and league in the United States (1979-1983). It has photos, videos, posters and information on the world’s first “Tough Guy Contest.”

The Tough Guy contest was established in Pittsburgh, PA and is now documented at the Heinz History Center as the first event of its kind. the tough guy contest

GGP Global Glorious

GGP Global Glorious Productions, and extension of the Western PA Police Athletic League, grand opening today at the Monroeville Mall.

global glorious

Sensei Bill Viola, Luke Lokay, Lucy Lokay, Bill Viola Jr., and Cameron Klos at the Pittsburgh based Global Glorious Productions Office. Kumite Classic Entertainment is a proud partner of the initiative.