A Brief History of MMA - Part 3

Discussion in 'Articles' started by SifuPhil, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. SifuPhil

    SifuPhil Lucky Cat Is Lucky

    Big thing were now in the works. Caliguri and Viola founded the World Martial Arts Fighting Association (WMAFC) to sanction competitors and rank fighters for what was to be a professional division of Super Fighters. They also drafted documents to franchise the league and began negotiating television contracts. Preparations were made for a national Super Fighters tour in 1981. in which they anticipated fifty such elimination events around the country, with Phoenix, Louisville, Rochester, Boston, and Philadelphia already being scheduled. The finales would be held in either Atlantic City or Las Vegas, with the championship match being broadcast live on network television and the winner awarded $100,000. Attorney James Irwin was retained to negotiate the television deal. Big-time (relatively speaking) sponsorship was now coming in.


    "Battle of the Tough Guys is a legitimate sport and not just a passing fad..." was the opinion given by Jim Isler of the News-Dispatch following their October event. It seemed as if nothing could stop Super Fighters from becoming the major sport that Caliguri and Viola had been certain it was destined to be.

    On November 6, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission ordered CV Productions to cancel that evening's show in Greensburg. If they did not the PSAC threatened to have the police shut it down for them. Caliguri and Viola chose to ignore this command, confident that the Commission had no jurisdiction over their competitions. The shows went on as planned that weekend but now they had attracted the the attention of state officials. Not wishing to antagonize the commission any further they refrained from more shows until the matter could be sorted out. In the meantime they focused on their big plans for the next year.

    Disaster struck in March of 1981, when 23-year-old Ronald Miller was killed participating in a "Toughman" boxing competition in Johnstown. The name had come back to haunt them. Even though the event had no connection whatsoever to Super Fighters or CV Productions, Inc. most were unable to distinguish this fact and newspapers even mistakenly identified his death as having taken place in a "Tough Guy" competition. Miller's death and the outrage that followed led to the Pennsylvania Legislature launching an investigation into all fighting events.

    After careful consideration and considerable legal consultation,Viola and Caliguri put a hold on promoting events while they waited for the storm to pass. But there would be no lull. In 1983, the Pennsylvania State Senate passed a bill that specifically called for prohibiting Tough Guy contests or Battle of the Brawler constests. It would go on to define this to mean any competition in which individuals "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."

    After less than a year in activity and over 10 events held across the state of Pennsylvania, Super Fighters was no more. It would be over a decade before another promotion would try and bring an "Anything Goes" fighting league to the United States. They would succeed, giving birth to a new sport, while Mike Viola and Frank Caliguri and their Super Fighters would be forgotten having been too far ahead of their time.


    "Tournabout has a Ring to It" from June 13, 1980 Philadelphia Daily News
    "Dan 'Irish' O'Brien versus 'Outlaw' Wade Miller" from June 13, 1980 Philadelphia Journal
    All other images via CV Productions, Inc. Website

    CV Productions, Inc. Website
    Battle of Tough Guys Finals Scheduled." News-Dispatch, Apr 12, 1980
    Blinbury, Fran. "No Holds Barred as the Super Brawlers Take Over the Civic Center." Philadelphia Journal, Jun 13, 1980, p 26
    Blinbury, Fran. "No Holds Barred as the Super Brawlers Take Over the Civic Center." Philadelphia Journal, Jun 13, 1980, p 27
    "Tough Guy Bouts Fatal for Man, 23" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 23, 1981
    Senate Bill No. 632 Session of 1983
    Hartlep, Bill. "MMA Trailblazers to be Honored at Caged Kumite Event." Times Express, May 27, 2010
    Kogut, Paul. "Caliguri's MMA History Honored at Heinz." Times Express, June 23, 2011
    Werner, Sam. "Roots Were Planted in New Kensington".Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 24, 2011
    Santa, John. "Viola Honored as Mixed Martial Arts Innovator." Daily News, July 4, 2011

    Judah and Mr.Bond like this.
  3. Mr.Bond

    Mr.Bond Big Ass Dog

    Phil, this last post is second only to the Tug Toner I got for Christmas.

    Can't put it down!
    SifuPhil likes this.
  4. Dagon Akujin

    Dagon Akujin Jimmy Rustler

    I heard that the original Octagon was supposed to be in plexi-glass, but that there was too much glare for the cameras.

    Also, shouldn't this article mention the Gracie's connection to setting up the first UFC? Wasn't it basically their idea and didn't they put up the original purse (heck, Royce had already fought and beaten some of the competitors in the first two UFCs, right?)? Or is that stuff just urban legend?
    SifuPhil likes this.
  5. SifuPhil

    SifuPhil Lucky Cat Is Lucky

    That's interesting, I hadn't heard about that. Makes good sense, though.

    They were VERY involved in setting up the first UFC, but I was sort of shooting for the pre-history - everything up to the creation of the UFC.
  6. Martin Taylor

    Martin Taylor Initiate

    nice article
    SifuPhil likes this.
  7. punitbook

    punitbook Initiate

    It was fun to read your content, why don't write a book :)
    SifuPhil likes this.
  8. SifuPhil

    SifuPhil Lucky Cat Is Lucky

    That would be too much like work ...
    punitbook and DeeD like this.

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