CV Productions honored as the creators of the sport of mixed martial arts in 1979
On June 23, 2011, an exhibit showcasing CV [Frank Caliguri and Bill Viola] Productions and the origin of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in America officially opened. Making History, the newsletter for the Senator John Heinz History Center (home of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum) in association with the Smithsonian Institution, said, “Professional baseball, football, and hockey can all trace their 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).
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).
The groundbreaking law was drafted specifically to outlaw CV Productions’ events and provided detailed language that defined mixed martial arts competition by prohibiting:
“ANY COMPETITION WHICH INVOLVES ANY PHYSICAL CONTACT BOUT BETWEEN TWO OR MORE INDIVIDUALS, WHO ATTEMPT TO KNOCK OUT THEIR OPPONENT BY EMPLOYING BOXING, WRESTLING, MARTIAL ARTS TACTICS OR ANY COMBINATION THEREOF AND BY USING TECHNIQUES INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PUNCHES, KICKS AND CHOKING.”
Ten years after the passage of Senate Bill 632, the first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) would debut in 1993.
The Viola family is a Pittsburgh martial arts legacy. Bill Viola Sr. is the co-creator of the modern sport of MMA while his children continue to spread his teachings. Great read.
Karate kids: Viola family keeps kicking at World Games
February 12, 2015 12:00 AM
By Dave Zuchowski
When Bill Viola Sr. attended middle school in Brownsville in the early 1960s, an older friend taught him some Shotokan karate he had learned in the military.
“After getting a taste of the martial arts, Dad just never stopped,” recalled his son Bill Viola Jr., 37, of North Huntingdon.
Since the 1960s, Mr. Viola Sr., now 67 and also of North Huntingdon, has been a karate pioneer and is credited as a founder of the sport of mixed martial arts. In 1969, he established Allegheny Shotokan Karate and was champion competitor until he retired in 1979.
In 2011, the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum and the Heinz History Center honored him with an exhibit documenting Pittsburgh as the birthplace of the sport he helped create. Two years later, he celebrated 50 years as a martial arts practitioner.
He also taught karate to all five of his children, all of whom have gone on to obtain the rank of black belt and follow him into the competitive arena.
“Dad got us started on this journey,” Mr. Viola Jr. said. “All of us have gone on to win state championships and [daughters] Ali, Addie and I have won world championships.”
Ali Viola, 22, a Duquesne University law student, is the winningest Viola. She’s captured seven National Black Belt League World Championships, making her the most successful female karate fighter in Pittsburgh history.
In the 2014 Karate World Games held in New York in December, she won her last two titles, but also watched as her 4-year-old niece, Gabby, joined her as the youngest competitor in the games. Not only did Gabby represent another generation of Violas to contend in the competitive arena, she came in fourth in her division.
“It seems as if we Violas start to get involved in karate as soon as we can walk,” Mr. Viola Jr. said. “Being in my father’s karate studio is my earliest childhood memory.”
As Gabby’s father, he said he didn’t force his daughter into the sport, but because her four aunts all participate in karate it just seemed natural. The 4-year-old goes to her grandfather’s studio in North Huntingdon three or four times a week.
“Some of our success must have to do with genes, but, first and foremost, it depends on building character, which creates an atmosphere of discipline and a good work ethic,” he said. “The motto at our school is ‘The more you sweat here, the less you bleed out there.’”
The family’s competitive drive seems to have spilled over into their professional lives. All five siblings have college degrees. Besides winning an international title, Addie Viola, 35, teaches kindergarten in Bethel Park. Her sister, Jackie, 23, is a pharmacist, and sister Jocelyn, 21, is studying pharmacy at West Virginia University.
Ali Viola, short for Allison, started martial arts at age 3 and hopes to be involved in the sport indefinitely.
“Karate is a life-long activity that you can keep doing into your 60s and 70s,” she said. “If I have children I plan to encourage them to study martial arts because they’re so beneficial to so many other areas of life.”
Mr. Viola Jr. retired from competing in early 1999 after suffering a broken neck in a car accident. “One of the most terrible events in my life, it did allow me to refocus my love of the sport into coaching and film making,” he said.
Every weekend, an all-star group of 30 young karate students train under his tutelage for three hours at the studio his father founded.
“Dad oversees everything, and when he comes in everyone sits up a little straighter,” he said.
Mr. Viola Jr. created the Kumite Classic competition and is a film producer of movies mostly in the karate genre. He’s also authored a book on the history of mixed martial arts and his father’s contributions as a pioneer of the sport. Titled “Godfathers of MMA,” the book is scheduled for release soon.
Besides Gabby, Mr. Viola Sr. has two other grandchildren from daughter, Addie; granddaughter, Ella, 6, and grandson, Noah, 4, are also involved.
“Titles come and go, but a legacy is forever,” the senior Mr. Viola noted.
Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who really invented the “sport” of MMA in America?
“It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a photograph, or a telephone or any other important thing—and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite — that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.” ―Mark Twain
Most mixed martial arts fans simply aren’t concerned with revisionist history, but we still have a duty to preserve the integrity of sport. Note “sport” is a very specific label not to be confused with methodology that would include an analysis of Pankration, Vale Tudo, and any number of distant relatives that inspired modern MMA competition in the United States (long before we knew it as mixed martial arts). The “invention” of mixing martial arts dates back to the dawn of mankind, but the “creation” of an American sport has direct lineage. The field of pioneers runs deep including everyone from Bruce Lee to Judo Gene LeBell setting the tone with exhibitions, but their contributions, although groundbreaking, do not constitute sport. Like stick-and-ball games, baseball didn’t become a sport until the emergence of a diamond, 3 strikes and 4 bases and MMA is no different. While the UFC popularized the idea of MMA, the “sport” was created a decade earlier (MMA’s best kept secret). CV [Caliguri and Viola] Productions provided the blueprint for a multi-billion dollar business in 1979; the first league of its kind. They were ultimate fighters ahead of their time (no pay-per-view or the internet to spread their message). The revolution was repressed, now passed off as mere urban legend, but it’s time to look past the fairy tale version you’ve been brainwashed to believe.
The UFC’s Maiden Voyage
Art Davie thought he had entered uncharted waters in 1993 when he created the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but another ship set sail years before him. Davie planted his flag in Denver, Colorado thinking he had discovered new land, but in reality MMA’s story began in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania more than a decade earlier. It’s not up for debate; there is overwhelming evidence that a UFC-esque company thrived before Rorion Gracie and Art Davie collaborated. CV [Caliguri and Viola] Productions was a premonition of the Zuffa era, built as sport from the ground up, while UFC 1 was devised as a spectacle, slowly transforming to sport over time. The former isolated in Pennsylvania, the latter seen in every major market in America. One forgotten, the other larger than life.
In 2014 Art Davie released his book aptly titled “Is This Legal” reminiscing about UFC’s heyday and staking his claim to have created MMA. While Davie, a true innovator, certainly pitched the idea of Ultimate Fighting and popularized it on television, his vision “There are no rules” was a far cry from anything that resembled sport. His baby would eventually morph into a sport, a billion dollar behemoth, but it too had a precursor. Yes, he co-created the UFC (the most famous 3 letters in combat sports) but he wasn’t the first to “package MMA.” It may be hard to fathom that sport existed before the UFC, but it did. Ironically Davie is compared to Abner Doubleday on his book jacket, fitting since neither of them invented a sport, but he may be ignorant to that fact. Mr. Davie was the first to introduce MMA to the “world” (via pay-per-view) but remains the runner up in “America.”
Most media outlets believe, “Mixed martial arts competitions were introduced in the United States with the first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in 1993.” This just isn’t true; a major milestone yes, but a major misnomer. They, the press, got it wrong in ‘93 and have been wearing blinders ever since. A more accurate description might have been, No Holds Barred competitions were introduced in the United States with the first UFC but mixed martial arts as sport began in 1979 under the banner of CV Productions. Too late, once the ripple effect set in (print, reprint, reprint) the UFC became the first of its kind. Positive or negative press, the public is prone to believe what news they hear first. Ask any politician who’s been on the wrong end of a juicy scandal; truth becomes relative depending which way the press leans. It’s equally hard to buck that trend if you are an inventor or explorer playing catch up.
The perception of the UFC and CV Productions is very much in line with Christopher Columbus and Leif Eriksson. While the Vikings didn’t have a clever rhyme, Columbus did, sailing the ocean blue in 1492. The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s ploy of course was shock and awe, broadcast live and in bloody color. UFC, like Columbus, won the media’s attention and was accepted into an exclusive club with “lifetime” membership—pop culture. The New World may have been discovered 500 years before Columbus was born, and likewise MMA created while Dana White was still in grade school, but once America makes up her mind she is stubborn.
History does seem to iron itself out, but first impressions still carry a lot of weight. What’s right is right and President Lyndon Johnson declared October 9th to be Leif Eriksson Day, just a few days earlier than Columbus Day observed on the 12th. However, unless you’re Norwegian, Columbus still takes the first place for being second. CV Productions is yet to get its official proclamation, but their day is coming.
Who’s Your Daddy? The real father of MMA…
Alexander Cartwright, James Naismith and Walter Camp all share a similar rite of passage, each has been honored as the “father” of their respective sports: Baseball, Basketball and Football. For all intents and purposes history credits them with invention, although each sport evolved incrementally from some inspiration or another. While there may be scholarly debate about who, what, when, where and how each sport actually was conceived, history proves that the masterminds behind the original “rules and regulations” determine the birth of a sport, and with it the recognition of its original author, aka “the father.”
The journey towards mainstream status for every sport has endured long and winding roads, but each trailblazer took that same very defining first step—RULES. It’s the creation of rules that distinguishes a game from simply goofing off and sport from spectacle. While rules have certainly changed over the past century, the essence of each major sport is steeped in tradition. Basketball, football, and baseball can trace their roots back to a pioneer who drafted a blueprint in an effort to standardize competition. Embodied by awards that bear their namesake, the legacy of Cartwright, Naismith, and Camp are intact, but who is the father of MMA? Who penned the holy grail of MMA rules?
The default response isn’t an individual at all but rather, “The UFC of course.” The nonchalant reaction bundles Rorion Gracie, Art Davie, Campbell McLaren, Bob Meyrowitz, Dana White and a host of others into a single entity so you don’t have to pinpoint exactly when the NHB became MMA. Some would argue that pioneers like Jeff Blatnik, Larry Hazzard, John McCarthy, and Howard Petchler, who all had a hand in influencing modern MMA rules, should be in the conversation. Each deserves a placard in the Hall of Fame, but unfortunately those rules were not the originals. CV Productions owns the rights whether folks know it or not.
When my father [Bill Viola Sr.] first put pen to paper in 1979 he had a vivid dream. As successful as mixed martial arts has become, to him, MMA is as brilliant today as it was supposed to be decades ago. It’s come a long way since the Holiday Inn in New Kensington, but one thing remains the same; my father, Frank and the original “Tough Guys” and Super Fighters will always and forever be the undisputed Godfathers of an American sport.
Winning World Titles is nothing new for the Viola family, especially for Duquesne University law student Ali Viola. Over the course of the past decade, she has become a 7x National Black Belt League (NBL) World Champion with international honors that have made her the most successful female karate fighter in Pittsburgh history. She has followed in the footsteps of her martial arts pioneer father and International Champion brother, Bill Viola Sr. and Jr. Although she doesn’t have anything further to prove on the mat and wasn’t planning on competing in 2014 due to college commitments, it was a very special season for the family.
The 2014 World Games marked a ceremonial passing of the torch, a karate tradition that has been a rooted in Pittsburgh for fifty years. Ali Viola competed alongside her 4-year-old niece, Gabby Viola, the youngest competitor at the World Games and the next generation of Violas to represent Pittsburgh.
The 25th Annual Sport Karate World Games known internationally as the “Super Grands” was held 26th-31st in Buffalo, New York. The tournament is sanctioned by the National Black Belt League (NBL) and Sport Karate International (SKIL) which are responsible for the largest sport karate ranking system and league for black belts in the world. The competition is the equivalent of the Super Bowl for martial arts with over thousands of world class competitors representing North America, South America, Asia and Europe each year at the Games. The competitors must compete at a series of regional and national events to earn a seed and qualify for the competition, a process similar to NCAA tournaments that is required to secure an invitation.
Gabby’s Aunt [Ali] added two World Titles to her resume, one for Women’s Middle Weight sparring (defeating a contender from France in the semi-finals and then the number #1 ranked fighter from California, Ashlee Grant, in the finals); the second victory was a team title that included teammates Willie Hicks (Texas) and Luis Jimenez (Mexico). Jimenez, a friend of Ali’s coach and brother Bill, also entered his son Joey Jimenez (the second youngest competitor at the World Games).
Gabby and Joey formed a unique bond that extended beyond the ring as they learned about family, respect and tradition. Although neither Gabby nor Joey won the overall division (Gabby 4th and Joey 6th) they learned something much more valuable—the importance of carrying on a legacy! Each walked away with an Amateur International Title and took the first step towards creating their place in martial arts history.
As Viola Sr. says, “Titles come and go, but a legacy is forever.” The school’s motto is “Building Champions in Life.” He prides his students on being community leaders and excelling in the education. Ali Viola is a first year law student at Duquesne University and former Division-1 soccer star at Youngstown State. She currently works at Eckert Seamans Law Firm and is an assistant coach for “Team Kumite” the all-star travel team founded by her brother. She avidly supports the Western Pennsylvania Police Athletic League and also trains boxing at the Third Avenue Gym downtown Pittsburgh in her free time.
Gabby Viola is currently a yellow belt in the Norwin Ninjas program at Allegheny Shotokan Karate and is coached by her father (Bill Jr.) and instructed by her Aunt (Ali) and Grandfather (Bill Sr.) aka “Papa Sensei.” For the past fifty years, the Viola name has been synonymous with martial arts excellence and Gabby is next in line to carry the tradition. More importantly, she is learning how to build character through martial arts. Viola Jr. adds, “Respect, discipline, and focus are the cornerstones of karate and those traits will help you throughout your schooling, your job, and life.”
For generations, the Viola family has put Pittsburgh karate on the map in the world of martial arts. Bill Viola Sr., the family patriarch, has been a pioneer of karate since the 1960s and is credited as the co-creator of the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) in 1979, a decade before the UFC was a household name. In 2011 The Western PA Sports Museum and Heinz History Center honored him with an exhibit documenting Pittsburgh as the birthplace of modern MMA. In all, Viola Sr. has five children [Bill Jr., Addie, Jacque, Ali, and Joce], all of whom have earned black belts and excelled in international competition.
Bill Viola Jr. has created the Mecca for martial arts in Pittsburgh, promoting the region’s largest and most prestigious competition known worldwide as the “Kumite Classic.” He’s an accomplished martial arts author and movie producer whose credits that include Tapped (2014) starring UFC Champions Lyoto Machida and Anderson “Spider” Silva. His latest book, Godfathers of MMA, is available at www.godfathersofmma.com
About Allegheny Shotokan: Bill Viola Sr. established Allegheny Shotokan Karate in 1969, and has since produced more World Champions than any other school in the Pittsburgh region. The school has been representing Pennsylvania and the United States at the World Games dating back to the establishment of the league. www.alleghenyshotokan.com
What do an NFL star, a United States Secret Service Agent, Sylvester Stallone’s bodyguard, and Muhammad Ali’s sparring partner all have in common? They were all characters cast in America’s original “anything goes” reality fighting drama, an “open call” that lead to the birth of a new sport—MMA.
Long before the Octagon was in vogue or Royce Gracie made his pay-per-view debut; decades before the UFC became a household brand and while the likes of Dana White were still in elementary school; two martial artists, Bill Viola and Frank Caliguri, set out to prove once and for all who the world’s greatest fighter was by creating a radical new “sport” in 1979.
Godfathers of MMA reveals the clandestine plot to subvert the “first” mixed martial arts revolution in American history, one poised to challenge boxing as the king of combat sports. Confounded by a freak accident (death in the ring) and widespread corruption, a massive struggle ensued over money, power, and respect between boxing’s gentry and an upstart MMA company from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. CV (Caliguri and Viola) Productions ignited a bitter turf war with the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission that sparked a spectacular David and Goliath battle for leverage.
The legendary story, buried by rhetoric for years, casts a wide net reeling in everyone from politicians to mobsters, all with ulterior motives; all with eyes on a billion dollar blueprint. From boxing’s “Holy Territory,” the home of Rocky Balboa, to a bizarre connection with the Supreme Court that lead to the first legal precedent for MMA—ever, this is the ultimate inside look.
Godfathers of MMA is a testosterone-laced whirlwind tale of “what might have been” told by the trailblazers who fought for it. Relive the epic adventure of the “Tough Guys” who morphed into Super Fighters (the first mixed martial arts league, long before it was labeled MMA). Thirty years before the UFC gained a mainstream audience, KDKA-TV dubbed CV’s new sport, “Organized, Legalized, Street fighting” while the Philadelphia Journal proclaimed, “No holds barred as Superfighters take over.” Take a journey back in time to the “Iron City” and meet the fighters, the foes, and the visionaries who created the modern sport of MMA. For more info on the untold history of MMA, visit http://mmahistory.org/who-invented-mma/
The 16th Annual Kumite Classic is May 22-23rd 2015 @ The Monroeville Convention Center. The Kumite Classic is the Mecca for martial arts and combat sports in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania region. Exhibit booths on sale now!
(PRESS RELEASE) PITTSBURGH, PA – Pinnacle Fighting Championships returns to Pittsburgh on March 29, 2014 with its biggest show to date, Pittsburgh Challenge Series 6.
The blockbuster mixed martial arts card is set to be headlined by a bout between top featherweight prospects Mark “The Pride of Bloomfield” Cherico and Brady “The Alpha Male” Hovermale. The fight card also features five other professional bouts and seven amateur bouts, including three title bouts. Fighting once again in his hometown, Cherico (5-0 / fighting out of Pittsburgh, PA) looks to keep his overall unbeaten record of 14-0 intact. Coming off of back-to-back wins over UFC veteran Donny Walker and Strikeforce veteran Billy Vaughan in PFC action, the Fight Club Pittsburgh leader has his eyes firmly set on the UFC. Along with training at his home base for this fight, Cherico has branched out to train at various American Top Team locations in Florida, stemming from his relationship with manager and UFC veteran Charles McCarthy. Hovermale (9-3 / fighting out of Upland, IN) will be Cherico’s toughest test to date. Riding a four-fight winning streak, he has finished all nine of his victories without the need of the judges. The 22-year-old is no stranger to facing top competition, and he has been training in California for this bout at the famed Team Alpha Male camp that has produced many top UFC fighters, including Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes, Joseph Benavidez, and more. In the night’s co-main event, Joey “The Hitman” Holt (3-1 / fighting out of E. Liverpool, OH) returns looking to bounce back from his first career loss to Julian Lane at PFC 5 in November. The Bellator MMA veteran will take on fellow Bellator MMA veteran Rob Hanna (3-0 / fighting out Dayton, OH) in a lightweight battle. Both fighters picked up victories under the Bellator banner, as Holt knocked out Clint Musser with a flying knee at Bellator 51, and Hanna earned a decision victory over Rocky Edwards at Bellator 78. At 145 pounds, Fight Club Pittsburgh product Khama “The Death Star” Worthy (4-2 / fighting out of Pittsburgh, PA) looks to extend his three-fight winning streak when he faces unbeaten Michigan native Cody “Mr. Wonderful” Stamann (4-0 / fighting out of Dearborn, MI). Both fighters have proved to have massive firepower and will look for the knockout finish. At welterweight, Shane “In Ya Face” Chojnacki (3-0 / fighting out of Pittsburgh, PA) returns following his PFC 4 main event victory, as he takes on DeVon “The Silverback” Mosley (3-1 / fighting out of Fredericksburg, VA). The two powerful fighters Top-ranked amateur lightweight Nick “NyQuil” Browne (0-0 / fighting out of Uniontown, PA) will finally make his professional debut, as the former PFC lightweight champion will take on Mike Wiseman (1-1 / fighting out of N. Jackson, OH) in a 155-pound battle. Browne is currently the top-ranked lightweight amateur in the area, and he makes his pro debut after a 10-1 amateur record including a 6-0 record in 2013. Wiseman is also a veteran fighter, as he put together a 7-2 amateur record before making his pro debut last March. The night’s final professional bout features a pair of grapplers, as Todd “Jiu Jiu” Bevan (3-0 / fighting out of Bridgeport, OH) will face Andrew “The Gavel” Law (3-1 / fighting out of Bolivar, OH). Bevan is a decorated jiu-jitsu player, while Law has an extensive judo background. In amateur action, three titles will be on the line as well: Lightweight champion Eric Bledsoe (4-0) will defend against Fadi Shuman (4-1), Featherweight champion Rich Cantolina (10-6) will defend against top Ohio prospect Jerrell Hodge (10-1), and Bantamweight champion Davey Crockett (6-1) will defend against Darnell Pettis (7-3). Tickets start at just $35 and are available now at www.cagetix.com. Pittsburgh Challenge Series 6 takes place at the Greentree Sportsplex in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on March 29. For more information, visit www.pinnaclefightingchampionships.com. Pro Bouts: 145 lbs: Mark Cherico (5-0) vs Brady Hovermale (9-3) 155 lbs: Joey Holt (3-1) vs Rob Hanna (3-0) 145 lbs: Khama Worthy (4-2) vs Cody Stamann (4-0) 170 lbs: Shane Chojnacki (3-1) vs DeVon Mosley (3-1) 155 lbs: Nick Browne (0-0) vs Mike Wiseman (1-1) 155 lbs: Todd Bevan (3-0) vs Andrew Law (3-1) Amateur Bouts: 155 lbs: Eric Bledsoe (4-0) vs Fadi Shuman (4-1) –for lightweight title 145 lbs: Rich Cantolina (10-6) vs Jerrell Hodge (10-1) – for featherweight title 135 lbs: Davey Crockett (6-1) vs Darnell Pettis (7-3) – for bantamweight title 145 lbs: Jake Schilling (4-1) vs Russ Brletrick (8-5) 145 lbs: Ethan Goss (4-3) vs Cody Kremer (3-1) 145 lbs: Paul McAleer (2-0) vs Jonas Rubiano (1-0) 170 lbs: Gary Price (0-0) vs Greg Rudolph (0-0)
Pittsburgh MMA contributor Jimmmy Cvetic is a reality tv star.
By Maria Sciullo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In the second of three episodes shot in Pittsburgh during the summer, Oxford Solutions IT recruiters Geoff Morgan and Corey Walker starred as “White Collar Brawlers,” a new limited-run series at 10 p.m. Tuesdays on the Esquire Network.
The guys are competitive in more than recruiting new hires. Tuesday’s show featured a pingpong game that underscored Mr. Morgan’s tendency to get hotheaded under pressure. “A ticking time bomb,” as one co-worker put it.
These two appeared naturals for a program that pits office mates against each other in the boxing ring. Mr. Morgan stated early on that he suspects Mr. Walker is stealing his recruits, prompting the latter to respond, “I never stole anybody’s candidates. It’s not my style.”
So, onto the 3rd Avenue Gym they go. Owner Jimmy Cvetic had them sweating and in great pain after one practice session. Trainer Johnny Spells, who handled Mr. Morgan throughout the six-week ordeal, began with the fact that boxing isn’t something easily learned at a quick pace: “But we’re going to microwave this.”
Beyond the physical challenges, the men soon discovered that training is a time-consuming business. Relationships with significant others, and with work, took a hit. Finally, it was time for the match.
Slightly shorter, Mr. Walker surprised with a flurry of jabs to easily take the first of the three, two-minute rounds. Mr. Morgan settled down and won Round 2. In the third round, both were so exhausted they could barely keep their arms up. The judges’ decision went to Mr. Walker.
Everyone agreed the men would probably still fight it out at work over candidates, but the blood-and-guts experience in the ring was a bonding experience.
“I have nothing but respect for Geoff,” Mr. Walker said.
* James Wolpert fell prey to the Twitter Instant Save Curse on NBC’s “The Voice” and was eliminated Tuesday. Each of the four singers “saved” this season in the 5-minute fan tweet window promptly exited in the next round.
Singing U2’s “With or Without You,” the former Carnegie Mellon University art student drew raves from his mentors, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. But it wasn’t enough.
Mr. Wolpert will perform in the two-night season finale, which begins Monday. A former employee at the Shadyside Apple Store, before he left, he sent company CEO Tim Cook an email. Although he invited Mr. Cook to stop by, should he reach the live shows, like Godot, Mr. Cook apparently never showed up.
* Katie Correll would appear to have the qualifications to be one of 11 contestants on Season 2 of TBS’s “King of the Nerds.” Ms. Correll, who is getting her master’s at the CMU Entertainment Technology Center, does research at the university’s Robotics Institute and next month, begins a new job at Disney Research Pittsburgh.
The show premieres Jan. 23.
* A minor Twitterstorm erupted Sunday night during the CBS finale of “The Amazing Race,” when, in the first hour, two of the four remaining teams decided to work together to reach the final set of challenges.
“Cheating!” was a common complaint, although in the long history of “TAR,” many teams have joined forces. After 23 cycles of the program, which airs twice a year, the rules appear to change from time to time — and generally are not announced to viewers.
For example, then-engaged couple Amber Brkich (a Beaver County native) and Rob Mariano came up with a number of creative, albeit sneaky, styles of game play en route to the Season 7 finale. Among their antics: having decided he didn’t want to eat 4 pounds of meat in a roadblock, Mr. Mariano convinced some of the other teams to skip the chow and join them in accepting a time penalty.
Winners of this season’s show were dating couple Amy Diaz and Jason Case, who took home $1 million. The finale drew about 9 million viewers but scored a ratings share of only 2.1 among the 18-49 demo.
NBC’s “Football Night in America” trounced the competition with 16.6 million viewers and a 6.0 rating.
* So, you think you can dance? Fox’s venerable reality competition begins auditions next month in Atlanta (Jan. 13). Other casting calls are New Orleans (Jan. 31) and Los Angeles (March 23) but other sites will be announced shortly at www.fox.com/dance.
* “Farm Kings” returns Thursday on Great American Country, with the promise of the guys overhauling “a clunker for entry into a demolition derby and Lisa entering the local Apple Festival’s pie bake-off.”
The show features the King Family, which runs its Freedom Farms complex off Route 8 in Butler County.
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Hand to hand combat has roots in prehistoric times, influencing every culture since the dawn of mankind. From ancient mosaic sculptures discovered in Sumeria to hieroglyphic inscriptions revealed in Egypt, early evidence suggests that some type of formalized fighting system has always existed. Be it a “fight” or “flight” response from the threat of imminent danger, survival is a universal instinct of humanity. The public’s obsession with barbaric “life or death” contests reminiscent of the Roman Gladiators affirms an innate human fascination with combative sports, especially as entertainment. While the violent spectacles of the Coliseum are no longer apropos, contemporary mixed martial artists are celebrated prizefighters, heralded as modern day warriors.
Martial arts or the “Arts of Mars” in Latin is derived from the Roman god of war. Its military connotation, “kill or be killed,” is a philosophy that resonates among thousands of armed and unarmed methods of self-defense; many steeped in tradition and influenced by cultural, religious, or ethnic backgrounds. Today, “martial art” has become a catch-all, almost generic term that universally and collectively describes combat systems from around the world dating back to antiquity. What is and what isn’t technically a martial art is truly a subjective topic, a debate reserved for another day.
The origins of martial arts in general are shrouded in mystery and legend, more often than not based on hyperbole, stories passed down from generation to generation. Entwined deep within Greek mythology, Pankration (literally meaning “all powers”) was introduced to the Ancient Olympic Games in 648 B.C., a sport said to have been created in the spirit of Heracles and Theseus. Scholars regard this hybrid of Hellenic wrestling and boxing to be one of the earliest versions of mixed martial arts. The competitions garnered national fanfare while imposing very few rules; death unfortunately was considered an occupational hazard.
Many experts credit the conquests of Alexander the Great as a pervasive influence on primitive Martial Arts. His army inadvertently spread the fundamentals of Pankration throughout the world, including India. Popular folklore glorifies an Indian Monk named Bodhidharma, a journeyman who traveled to China establishing Zen Buddhism in the 6th Century A.D. Many believe the training regimen he taught the Shaolin Monks later spread and impacted the development of traditional martial arts around the world.
Upon the emergence of the 20th century, Vale Tudo (Portuguese meaning “everything allowed”) matches throughout Brazil left a modern footprint on MMA. The scene cultivated adaptations of judo that emphasized ground fighting; namely the creation of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and later Luta Livre (Brazilian free fighting). In the Pacific Rim, Eastern and Western styles clashed head-to-head in mixed-fights known as Merikan (Japanese slang for American) while no-holds-barred fisticuffs were a regular feature at large music halls throughout Europe. England operated on the cutting edge of an MMA ideology in the form of Bartitsu, while France had long claimed home to an ancient mixture of wrestling and striking known as Brancaille. The list of early mixed martial arts was as extensive as it was widespread, touching both hemispheres. Each geographic region had its favorite, and with it the pride of its people. Whether it’s narcissism or just intrinsic curiosity, challenges that prove superiority have always defined the human race and continue to do so today.
Sensei is probably the most recognizable term in all of martial arts. The Japanese to English translation literally means, “Person born before another,” simply said one with experience; a teacher. The arts themselves have followed a similar path, advancing slowly over time, individually influenced by those who came before; soldiers, warriors, students, masters and visionaries. Millennia later we see the fruits of their labor; an offspring of countless forms of combat (karate, kung fu, muay thai, etc.). Regardless what styles or theories you embrace, mixed martial arts is obviously not the handiwork of one person, group, or culture; it has evolved over thousands of years and continues to evolve today.
Contrary to popular belief, the UFC was not the first organization to promote the sport of mixed martial arts in 1993. The development of mainstream MMA as an organized and structured “sport” in the United States of America, is credited to CV Productions Inc., the oldest MMA company in America. Founded by Frank Caliguri and Bill Viola in 1979, the duo packaged and promoted legal mixed martial arts until it was banned by the Pennsylvania legislature in 1983.
Mixed Martial Madness: The Birth of an American Sport
Long before the Octagon was in vogue or Royce Gracie made his pay-per-view debut; decades before the UFC became a household brand and while the likes of Dana White were still in elementary school; two martial arts entrepreneurs pursued a dream that would change the sporting world forever. Bill Viola and Frank Caliguri, martial artists from Pittsburgh, set out to prove once and for all who the “Toughest Man on the planet” was by inventing a radical new “sport.” Groundbreaking—sophisticated—progressive; their competition transformed the barbaric spectacles of an earlier era into a modern franchise more akin to the NFL than the Roman Coliseum. It was the Tough Guy Contest, The Battle of the Brawlers.
CV [Caliguri and Viola] Productions created the blueprint for a multi-billion dollar business in 1979 by launching the first mixed martial arts league in United States history only to ignite a bitter turf war with a jealous boxing community over money, power and respect. Mixed Martial Madness reveals a clandestine plot that subverted a martial arts revolution that was poised to challenge boxing for preeminence as the king of combat sports.
The rise and fall of the first Mixed Martial Arts competition in the United States is nothing less than a spectacular David-and Goliath story populated by a colorful cast of characters who bring the drama of MMA to life. This was reality fighting, not an overhyped mixed “challenge.” Professional athletes, barroom brawlers, collegiate wrestlers, self-proclaimed bad asses, and aspiring “Rockys” all went toe-to-toe in what was the first legal “anything goes” competition in America.
The testosterone-laced rollercoaster ride was ultimately buried by back alley politics and special interests in an effort to protect the “sweet science.” In 1983, with the stench of corruption still in the air, the Pennsylvania legislature banned the new sport en route to setting the first legal precedent for MMA—ever.
Outlawed and blacklisted by the “Good ol’ boys,” Mixed Martial Arts would sit idle until an upstart UFC finally emerged in 1993. Unfortunately, their “No Holds Barred” format was light-years behind CV Productions in terms of rules, regulations and safety precautions. It would take nearly thirty years of “catching up” for MMA to come full circle and gain mainstream acceptance. Mixed Martial Madness is the untold story of the men who changed the game and a sport that was born ahead of its time.
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Mixed martial arts in the United States was not conceived by the Gracie
family and Art Davie in 1993, it actually began life 14 years earlier
in a Pennsylvanian diner. FO reveals the untold story of…
MMA”s Forgotten Forefathers By Richard Cartley Featured in Fighters Only Magazine
The history of the sport of MMA began in Pittsburgh, PA. Photos circa 1979
November 1979. The world’s favorite Stars Wars film is yet to illuminate a single silver screen, Jimmy Carter was walking the halls of the White House and a gallon of gas cost less than a dollar down the road from the Denny’s restaurant in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, where two kickboxing promoters, Bill Viola Sr and Frank Caliguri, would meet once a week. Bill, a 33-year-old karate school owner and school science teacher, and Frank, the 32-year-old proprietor of the only karate gym in Pennsylvania with a boxing ring, were talking business. However, unlike every previous week’s Denny’s conversation, this one would lead to holding the United States’ first-ever mixed martial arts league. And this was nearly 15 years before the 1993 debut of what would become the world’s largest MMA organization: the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Bill and Frank would converse about their efforts promoting their co-promoted karate and kickboxing events. As publicizing primarily entailed hanging posters in gyms and bars, they’d frequently encounter clientele keen to point out a martial artist they knew could pummel any kickboxer on their show. “It would keep coming up,” Bill Viola recalls to Fighters Only. “Then one night, we were just there like we always were, having a little bite to eat, and we both almost simultaneously came up with this idea: what happens if we get all these guys together and do an event?” As men fascinated by the question of who would win between jeet kune do creator Bruce Lee, boxer Muhammad Ali and wrestler Bruno Sammartino, they needed no more encouragement. Only days later, Bill began hashing out a rule-set, picking the brains of the judokas, and other martial artists who visited his shotokan karate gym’s unique open door Wednesday night, where the practitioners could share techniques. He also visited with his school’s wrestling coach on his free periods to hit the mats. What resulted was a remarkably thorough 11-page rulebook that outlined regulations (fights to end by knockout, submission, referee stoppage or decision), safety gear (head guards, If you would like to sign up for automatic school appropriate games closing notifications for participating schools, please visit Delaware Notification Services, create an account and subscribe to school appropriate games notifications. karate gloves, foot and leg protection) and even judging criteria for a 10-point must system. There would also be two physicians, one ringside and one in the dressing room. In 1979, mixed martial arts was already light years ahead of itself. Soon Viola and Caliguri were brainstorming names. ‘Ultimate Fighting Championship’ wasn’t in their top 10, Bill admits with a laugh. “We may have had a little blunder there,” he jokes. Seeking a title that would echo the tough ethos of their Steel City Pittsburgh locale, Bill and Frank would first settle on ‘Tough Man Contest.’ Though it seemed perfect, within months, they would get their first hint of why the moniker wasn’t as shrewd as they’d hoped. Unaware, the pair created flyers and posters to spread the word. Seeking fighters for, as the promotional material promised, an “anything goes” event “as they fought in the Orient,” but to find “the real-life Rocky” was easier than they anticipated. Bill marvels: “It was unbelievable. We would get 150, maybe 200 (calls), for a tournament or kickboxing show. First week we got 1,500 phone calls. We didn’t know what to do. We were totally engulfed. We had to actually hire a real secretary. We knew from that point this was going to be huge.” They immediately scheduled a three-night event, March 20th, 21st and 22nd 1980, at the Holiday Inn in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. However, by now, Bill and Frank (who had formed CV Productions – the ‘C’ for Caliguri, the ‘V’ for Viola – to stage the shows) received word of a gritty amateur boxing event in Michigan already using the title ‘Tough Man.’ Not wanting to be associated with a pure boxing contest, a simple name change to ‘Tough Guy’ ready for the second round of posters was in order. As Bill recalls, those booked for the first shows in New Kensington were a local ragtag crew of wrestlers, boxers, karate fighters, martial artists and, just as the UFC would attract well over a decade later, brawlers. Having selected simply via first come first served, Bill and Frank had gathered a tournament bracket of 32 lightweights (175lb and under) and a separate grand prix of 32 heavyweights (176lb and over), all to compete over three two-minute rounds with the finals read more