Category Archives: Fighters

Pittsburgh Mixed Martial Arts Fighters

Tough Guys Film MMA History

MMA Film Makes History


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 will have its world premiere on June 15 at the AFI DOCS Film Festival in Washington, DC.


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.


Tough Guys Bill Viola and Frank Caliguri
Bill Viola Sr. & Frank Caliguri MMA Exhibit
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Tough Guys MMA poster
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Flash of Light Kick Dave Jones KO Mike Murray
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MMA History Panel AFI Docs


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MMA 1980
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UFC with CV Productions
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Don Kaecher

Don Kaecher: Professional Record of 9-1 record.

Arguably Pittsburgh”s top pro MMA fighter, Don began training in Martial Arts at the age of 12, training in a variety of styles such as Muay Thai, Fire Dragon Kung Fu, Tang So Do, Karate, Boxing and more. During that time, Don was exposed to Bruce Lee and learning about his teachings. Just like any young Martial Artist, he wanted to emulate the Dragon.

Don was first exposed to Mixed Martial Arts when he started training at Practical Fighting Concepts in Pittsburgh under Eric Hibler. There, Don learned a lot about what was expected to become a Mixed Martial Artist. At that time the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was just beginning and soon became a dream of Don’s to fight in. He started training his body and mind extremely hard in hopes of someday getting the chance to fight in the cage.

Don’s first real passion was grappling in 1996, and a year later had his first Muay Thai fight at the Palace Inn in Monroeville. He won both of them and now felt he was then ready to fight in the cage. Don finally got his chance to fight in the cage at World Extreme Fighting 6 (WEF) in 1999. His first opponent was Josh Rafferty, a student of former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin. Don won a tough fight by tap out due to knee strikes to the body and head.

Since 1999 Don has fought in ten professional cage fights and held the 145lb Intercontinental Flyweight Championship title in Reality Super Fighting. Currently his professional fighting record is 9-1 with his only loss to Hermes Franca, former UFC 155lb title contender and WEC 155lb champion. Currently Don still competes in MMA, submission grappling and boxing. He won Golden Gloves in 2005 and the Kumite Classic in Pittsburgh in 2003 through 2007. Don tried out for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 5 but despite not making it had a good learning experience. He also competed in the Gracie Nationals in Columbus, Ohio for 7 years straight.

Don has been teaching Mixed Martial Arts since 1997 and started Personal Training Tactics, Pittsburgh’s premier MMA School.

Don has trained with and is a certified instructor under Erik Paulson of CSW (Combat Submission Wrestling) in Los Angeles, CA. Erik Paulson was the first American to win the World Shooto Light-Heavyweight Title in Japan, defending his title 5 years straight. Don also trained with legendary instructor Guru Dan Inosanto.

With Mixed Martial Arts rapidly evolving, Don continues to stay on top of the sport by expanding his expert knowledge with the help of boxing coaches, wrestling coaches, books, training videos, seminars and thru his many students. He pushes his mind and body to the extreme daily… and if you train with him, he will bring out the champion and the best in you. Life is the ultimate journey. Only you can decide when the journey ends.

Recent Fight Results

Win Robert Walker III Submission (Guillotine Choke) Deathroll MMA – There”s Gonna Be A Fight Tonight 1 8/15/2009 1 1:08

Win Ryan McIntosh Submission (Verbal) NETC – No Escape the Cage 2/9/2008 1 1:29

Loss Hermes Franca Submission (Triangle Choke) WEF 12 – World Extreme Fighting 12 5/11/2002 2 2:00

Win John Wehbey Decision (Unanimous) RSF 2 – Attack at the Track 6/23/2001 3 4:00

Win Jeremy Libiszewski Submission (Guillotine Choke) RSF 1 – Redemption in the Valley 4/21/2001 1 2:39

Win Joe Cuff TKO (Corner Stoppage) WEF 8 – Goin” Platinum 1/15/2000 1 4:00

Win Rob Baer Submission (Rear Naked Choke) WEF 7 – Stomp in the Swamp 10/9/1999 1 1:01

Win Josh Rafferty Submission WEF 6 – World Extreme Fighting 6 6/19/1999 1 N/A