Category Archives: Hall of Fame

Tough Guys Film MMA History

MMA Film Makes History

ACADEMY AWARD® NOMINATED MORGAN SPURLOCK JOINS ACADEMY AWARD® WINNER ROSS KAUFFMAN FOR THE MIXED MARTIAL ARTS DOCUMENTARY “TOUGH GUYS”

DOCU FILM ON THE ORIGINS OF THE MIXED MARTIAL ARTS COMPETITION PHENOMENON IS SET TO WORLD PREMIERE THURSDAY AT AFI DOCS IN WASHINGTON DC
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.

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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
Tough Guys MMA Film Producers
The Producers of Tough Guys MMA Film
Tough Guys MMA poster
Tough Guys Sold Out
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Flash of Light Kick Dave Jones KO Mike Murray
MMA History interview
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mixed martial arts 1980
MMA 1980
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Tough Guys Debut
Godfathers of MMA book
The book that inspired it all
UFC with CV Productions
Godfathers of MMA with Dana White
Washington Post MMA Film
World Premiere Tough Guys MMA Film
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Tough Guys makes MMA History
MMA History 1
Wrong Place Wrong Time
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The real birthplace of MMA
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Tough Guy Contest
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Tough Guy Contest. The Birthplace of MMA

Hall of Fame

MMA Legends Honored in Pittsburgh!

The first group of competitors to ever fight in a CV Productions event were honored as national pioneers and inducted into the Pittsburgh MMA Hall of Fame, Sunday May 30th 2010, at the Monroeville Convention Center. These men were recognized for their accomplishments over 3 decades ago, paving the way for modern mixed martial arts. The ceremony solidified their place in American sports history.  Bill Viola resurrected CV Productions Inc. and promoted “Caged Kumite,” a pro-am mixed martial arts show in conjunction with the Hall of Fame ceremony. The event commemorated the thirty-year anniversary of mixed martial arts in Pittsburgh. The “anything goes” brainchild of Caliguri and Viola has become the fastest growing sport in the world! Thirty years later, Viola and his son Bill Jr. are working to bring respect back to Pittsburgh.
The idea of finding America’s ultimate style of fighter was actually created in Pittsburgh over 30 years ago (although the city gets little credit for the accomplishment and impact on the world’s fastest growing sport) by two ambitious Martial Artists in the 1970s, Bill Viola (North Huntingdon) & Frank Caliguri (New Kensington).  Don’t be fooled by the hype, the UFC may have popularized MMA events in recent years, but Viola and Caliguri were the first! Years before MMA was a household name, they produced what the media dubbed as, “Organized, legalized street fighting.” The championship fights were the first in American history that pitted grapplers, kick boxers, wrestlers, boxers, martial artists, street fighters, and all around “Tough Guys” in a sports format that allowed ground fighting and stand up striking.

New Sports Museum Display Explores Local Roots of Mixed Martial Arts

By: Anne Madarasz, co-director, Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum

Professional baseball, football, and hockey can all trace their early history to Western Pennsylvania.  But most local sports fans will be surprised to learn that our region is also the birthplace of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). The first “Battle of the Tough Guys” took place at the New Kensington Holiday Inn on March 19, 1980. Promoted by Bill Viola, a black belt karate instructor, and Frank Caliguri, also a black belt and owner of the Academy of Martial Arts, the first )Bally also inked an offer with South American software designers Globant to create casino games and digital gaming items for Bally’s on the internet and mobile platforms. bout of their multi-day event featured car salesman Mike Murray against laborer Dave Jones in the lightweight division. Jones defeated Murray by technical knockout in the third round in what has been identified as the first MMA match of its kind in the United States. Caliguri and Viola developed rules and regulations to guide their “Tough Man Contest,” described as “the martial arts way of fighting as it’s done in the Orient.” The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum recently unveiled a new display on the early roots of Mixed Martial Arts featuring uniforms and protective gear as casino well as original programs, posters, photographs, and ticket stubs. The collection, donated by Murray and Viola, provides documentation of the organization of the sport, as well as the promotion of competitive amateur events in the early 1980s. For more information on the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, please visit www.heinzhistorycenter.org

The first group of competitors to ever fight in a CV Productions event were honored as national pioneers and inducted into the Pittsburgh MMA Hall of Fame, Sunday May 30th 2010, at the Monroeville Convention Center. These men were recognized for their accomplishments over 3 decades ago, paving the way for modern mixed martial arts. The ceremony solidified their place in American sports history.  Bill Viola resurrected CV Productions Inc. and promoted “Caged Kumite,” a pro-am mixed martial arts show in conjunction with the Hall of Fame ceremony. The event commemorated the thirty-year anniversary of mixed martial arts in Pittsburgh. The “anything goes” brainchild of Caliguri and Viola has become the fastest growing sport in the world! Thirty years later, Viola and his son Bill Jr. are working to bring respect back to Pittsburgh.
The idea of finding America’s ultimate style of fighter was actually created in Pittsburgh over 30 years ago (although the city gets little credit for the accomplishment and impact on the world’s fastest growing sport) by two ambitious Martial Artists in the 1970s, Bill Viola (North Huntingdon) & Frank Caliguri (New Kensington).  Don’t be fooled by the hype, the UFC may have popularized MMA events in recent years, but Viola and Caliguri were the first! Years before MMA was a household name, they produced what the media dubbed as, “Organized, legalized street fighting.” The championship fights were the first in American history that pitted grapplers, kick boxers, wrestlers, boxers, martial artists, street fighters, and all around “Tough Guys” in a sports format that allowed ground fighting and stand up striking.