Preserving Tough Guys Heritage. Norwin resident Bill Viola Jr. authors book about the history of mixed martial arts.
Preserving Tough Guys Heritage. Norwin resident Bill Viola Jr. authors book about the history of mixed martial arts.
“Pittsburgh” is recognized in the network broadcast premiere of the mixed martial arts inspired film “Tough Guys” debuting on Showtime September 15. The free event will offer open seating available on a first-come, first-serve basis celebrating local fighters, fans, and MMA pioneers.
The movie is based on the book Godfathers of MMA written by Pittsburgh native Bill Viola Jr. The book which he co-wrote with his cousin Dr. Fred Adams also documents Pittsburgh as the birthplace of MMA, which is now a billion-dollar business. Viola Jr. explains, “When most fight fans think MMA history, they immediately reminisce about the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) which made its debut in 1993. My dad and Frank created the sport over a decade before the UFC. This is the untold story.”
The movie is largely based in Western Pennsylvania and has strong ties to the city of Greensburg. In fact, the last “Tough Guy” event was held in Greensburg at “Hartys” on November 6-7th 1980.
Academy Award-nominated documentarian Morgan Spurlock (“SUPER SIZE ME”) teamed with Oscar-winning filmmaker Ross Kauffman (“BORN INTO BROTHELS”) to produce this film that chronicles the history of MMA beginning in Pittsburgh over a decade before the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) existed.
“Back then, my dad literally mixed up all the martial arts and invented the ‘Tough Guy’ competition, not to be confused with Toughman, which was purely boxing,” Viola Jr. said. “Last year the UFC sold for $4 billion dollars.”
The film was executive produced by Spurlock, Kauffman and Spurlock’s business partner, Jeremy Chilnick. It was directed by award-winning filmmakers Henry Roosevelt and W.B. Zullo and produced by award-winning commercial producer Craig DiBiase.
Although Godfathers of MMA has already been written and published, Viola Jr. plans to re-release the book as a commemorative edition to coincide with the network debut of the film and will include bonus material, a new chapter and rebranded as Tough Guys to match the film.
According to Viola Jr., in 1979, his father and Caliguri dreamed up a contest pitting barroom big mouths against wrestlers, martial artists, boxers, bouncers and brawlers, billed as a 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 when the Senate passed the ‘Tough Guy Law’ in 1983.”
“Tough Guys” recounts the inception of Caliguri and Viola Sr.’s first bouts and the colorful, crazy cast of fighters who made them a hit, as well as the politicians who prohibited it. 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 a chance to prove their worth and earn some money in the ring.
“The film presents the untold stories of scrappy brawlers and martial arts promoters,” said Viola Jr., who served as an associate producer. “And, it covers a broad audience of Pittsburgh-area characters.”
On September 18th 2017 “Tough Guys” was #1 Best Selling Sports Book on Amazon! Congrats Bill Viola Jr. and Dr. Fred Adams
Tough Guys will make its network debut Sept. 15th 2017 on Showtime:
Norwin Ninjas / Allegheny Shotokan Honored as Pittsburgh’s Top Ranked Team for 2017
North Huntingdon, PA – June 21, 2017
The Allegheny Shotokan Karate School was honored as the “Top Team” at the 2017 Kumite Classic martial arts championships held at the 18th Annual Pittsburgh Fitness Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center May 26-27th. The Kumite Classic is the region’s largest multi-sports convention, featuring over 100,000 square feet of competitions and participation from around the world.
100 students from the North Huntingdon, PA based Allegheny Shotokan Karate school and their sister program “Norwin Ninjas” competed at the tournament. The school brought home more top honors than any other school in North America.
The team is qualified to compete in Las Vegas, Nevada over the Fourth of July for the WAKO North American Championships, part of UFC International Fight Week at the MGM Grand.
The team is coached by Sensei Bill Viola Jr. and Shihan Bill Viola Sr. Allegheny Shotokan has been family owned and operated since 1969. For more info visit www. Norwinninjas.com
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.
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.
Under his direction, the convention has grown into the region’s largest and most established health, wellness, nutrition, education and multi-sport event of its kind. www.pittsburgh.fitness
Bill Viola Jr. is the master mind behind the new Sensei Says #senseisays curriculum teaching life skills through martial arts.
William “Bill” Viola III aka Bill Viola Jr. (born April 9, 1977) is a Pittsburgh, PA based international martial arts & karate champion, instructor, coach, fitness promoter and founder of Kumite Classic Entertainment Corp.
Bill Viola Jr. graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 1999 with a bachelor degree in Political Science. Immediately after graduation, he moved to Studio City, California and gained hands-on experience within the entertainment industry. He subsequently earned acceptance into the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) and American Federation of Television and Radio (AFTRA). The exposure afforded him the opportunity to meet and work with many of Hollywood’s top performers, celebrities, directors, and producers. He gained an astute knowledge of event production that influenced him to create his own production company, Kumite Classic Entertainment Corp. The company produces the annual Kumite Classic and launched the Fitness And Sports Tour (FAST Expo). Viola’s professional experience has earned him international recognition within the fitness industry. He has recruited and worked with amateur and professional athletes from across the world. Currently Viola is the head instructor at Allegheny Shotokan Karate in North Huntingdon / Irwin, PA. The school was established in 1969 by his father and is now home to Team Kumite, an all-star sport karate team that that has earned the only NBL world titles in the Pittsburgh region since its inception. Viola is available for seminars, workshops, and private lessons.
The Kumite Classic
The Kumite Classic is one of the most diverse martial arts and fitness expos in the United States. The annual show based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is typically held over Memorial Day Weekend. The event hosts a full scale consumer expo surrounded by multiple championships and competitions that run simultaneously including sports such as; sport karate, natural bodybuilding, power lifting, strongman, Olympic weight lifting, dance, cheer, arm wrestling, grappling, jiu-jitsu, physical fitness challenges etc. The event also hosts concerts, talent showcases, model pageants, bikini pageants, and fitness pageants. The high energy atmosphere has created a unique fan base of sports and fitness enthusiasts.
In 2012 Viola teamed up with UFC and MMA legend Royce Gracie to promote a series of seminars with the Kumite Classic.
Viola partnered with former Mr. World Dave Hawk and Olympic Champion and Professional Wrestler Kurt Angle to host the Ultimate Teen Challenge in Pittsburgh, May 2005. The event has become an annual feature at the Kumite Classic.
On May 30th 2010 Bill Viola Sr. resurrected CV Productions Inc. and promoted “Caged Kumite,” a pro-am mixed martial arts show at the Kumite Classic. The event commemorated the thirty-year anniversary of mixed martial arts in Pittsburgh.
On May 28th 2011 Bill Viola Jr. partnered with former NFL Professional player Franco Harris to host The World Teen Football Combine. Jeannette High School standout Demetrious Cox, a former karate student of Viola, won the first annual competition.
Martial Arts & Sport Karate:
Bill Viola jr. was introduced to the art of Shotokan Karate by his father William Viola, founder of Allegheny Shotokan Karate. His lessons began as early as 1978 when he was just a toddler. As a youth Viola was one of the most consistent and well rounded competitors in the country recognized as a USAKF Jr. Olympic champion and 1993 Overall Sport Karate International Champion. He went on to be the most successful sport karate champion in PKRA Pennsylvania Karate Rating Association history winning an unprecedented 8-consecutive black belt overall state titles (1992-1999). As an open and traditional competitor Viola excelled on multiple sport karate circuits including NBL, NASKA, AAU, and USAKF. He competed across North America as a member of X-Caliber and Metro All-Star national travel teams.
He was recognized as a multiple USA Karate All-American Athlete and National Champion. Viola was the only adult black belt triple gold medalist (Kata, -65 Kilo Kumite, Kobudo) at the 1997 USAKF National Championships in Akron, Ohio. read more In 1998 he was recognized by Arnold Schwarzenegger as a World Champion at The Arnold Classic, Columbus, Oh.
Stunt Work & Professional Shows
Viola has served as a stunt actor and choreographer including performances for Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies, US Steel, Police Athletic League, Eckert Seamans Law Firm, and the University of Pittsburgh. Over the years Viola has participated casino online as a spokesperson for national campaigns including, Say No to Drugs, a tour took Viola coast to coast from Los Angeles to New York. -Pictured left, Bill Viola congratulated by Arnold casino pa natet Schwarzenegger for winning the Arnold Classic -1998
Viola has won numerous national and international titles and was inducted into National Black Belt League Hall of Fame in 2003 (Houston, Texas). He was also inducted into the National Federation of Martial Arts Hall of Fame, Kumite International Hall of Fame, and the Pennsylvania Karate Rating Association Hall of Fame. In 2004 he was honored at The Sport Karate Living Legends Banquet with the Lifetime Achievement Award, Lynchburg, Va. Viola was recognized at the 35th Annual Willie Stargell Memorial banquet on December 16th 2010. He received the “Pittsburgh M.V.P.” award for his work within This might take anywhere from a few minutes to much longer depending on how big your hard is and how many files it finds. the fitness and Martial Arts industry.
In the summer of 1999, Viola was involved in an automobile accident on US Route 30 in North Huntingdon, PA. He sustained a serious cervical neck fracture injury that effectively ended his competitive karate career (1981-1999). -Tribune Review Westmoreland Sports August 15, 1999 page 6.
In 2003 Viola established Kumite Quaterly Magazine, a martial arts publication distributed throughout North America. He also has served as a journalist for Sport Karate Magazine, covering international events in Canada, Mexico and the United States, as well as the NBL Supergrands World Championships. Currently he is book Tough Guys is #1 Amazon best seller.
In 2000, Viola partnered with the Western PA Police Athletic League and Eckert Seamans Lawfirm to establish Kumite International college scholarships for competitive martial artists. May 8th 2004 Viola and former NFL Professional Lynn Swann (Chairman, President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports: June 20, 2002 – July 30, 2005) honored scholarship recipients at the Kumite Classic. In 2002 Team Kumite was founded, and have earned the only NBL World Titles in the Pittsburgh region since its inception. NBL World Champion alumni include; Alison Viola, Terrence Tubio, Nicole Sullivan, Jose Rivera, and Dominic Leader. Kumite International was awarded the “Image Award” at the 2005 Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio. The ceremony was covered by Black Belt TV.
Fitness And Sports Training
In 1995 Viola began teaching sports endurance and cardio classes. In 2004 Viola expanded his personal training and established “Fitness And Sports Training” (The FAST Class). The conditioning and sports performance classes focused on improved speed, agility and strength for competitive sports teams in the Pittsburgh region.
Viola has served as a consultant for martial arts documentaries and coordinator for International martial arts events across North America including the Mexican Open and the NBL Supergrands World Games; (Jacksonville, Florida / Houston, Texas / Myrtle Beach, South Carolina).
Viola has served as a talent judge and promo coordinator for Sony Pictures Entertainment. He acted as a consultant for the motion picture Warrior, a mixed martial arts movie filmed in Pittsburgh (released September, 2011 by Lionsgate). Viola teamed up with longtime associate Jim Cvetic (Western PA Police Athletic League) to help organize major scenes for the production.
Bill Viola (member of SAG/AFTRA) has made numerous television, film, and radio appearances on networks such as MTV, NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, UPN, WB, USA, Blackbelt TV and ESPN.
In 2000, Viola won Sisqo’s Shakedown, MTV’s most popular program at the time. Singer-choreographer Pink selected him as the most dynamic performer on the show. He has also made appearances in national commercials for companies such as 7-Eleven and built an impressive portfolio as a fashion and commercial print model, featured on MTV’s Hitched or Ditched (Big Bear, California) working along side Jennifer Lopez, Mandy Moore and Carson Daly.
Viola has worked as a freelance talent scout and entertainment entrepreneur. He has mentored top martial arts performers, helping them gain exposure within the entertainment industry. Viola helped launch the modeling career of Nick Bateman at the Model Universe competition in Miami, Florida. Bateman was discovered by fashion Icon Calvin Klein at the event.
Viola has extensive experience within the entertainment industry, working behind the scenes of major Hollywood productions. He has worked on location for big budget music videos sharing the set with musical artists such as the Def Tones, Britney Spears, and The Black Eyed Peas. The experience influenced the creation of The Kumite Classic concept.
Viola currently resides in North Huntingdon / Irwin, PA outside of Pittsburgh.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Bill Viola Jr. is a Pittsburgh Pennsylvania based entrepreneur, producer, Master Martial Arts instructor and Amazon best selling author. He is the president of Kumite Classic Entertainment Inc. and operates Allegheny Shotokan Karate Inc., established in 1969 by his father (Bill Viola Sr., the co-creator of the sport of mixed martial arts). Pittsburgh Magazine recently named Viola Jr. as one of the “40 Under 40” most influential people in the city in 2016.
» Work Experience
Allegheny Shotokan Karate Inc., North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
Master Instructor, 1995-Present
Kumite Classic Entertainment Corp., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
President & Founder, 1999-Present
Non-Fiction, 2003-Present: Notable work
Kumite Quarterly Magazine., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Eckert Seamans Law Firm, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
KI Scholarship Program Director, 2001-2007
Congressman Ron Klink (PA 4th District), North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
Congressional Intern, 1997
Western Pennsylvania Police Athletic League Martial Arts Chairman Union member of the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio.
Pittsburgh Magazine named Bill Viola Jr. as one of the “40 Under 40” most influential people in the city in 2016.
Bill Viola Jr. is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania based producer, author and international martial arts champion who experienced the “Golden Era” of MMA firsthand as his father; Bill Sr. is credited as the co-creator of the sport (a decade before the UFC) by the Heinz History Center, in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institute.
Zuchowski, Dave (February 12, 2015). “Karate kids: Viola family keeps kicking at World Games”. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette p.EZ-4
Panian, A.J. (January 23, 2014). “Mt. Pleasant Author helps examine mixed martial arts”. Mount Pleasant Journal, p. 1.
Cartey, Richard (November 2012). “Tough guy Contest: The Real Beginnings of MMA in America”. Fighters Only. 3: 72.
“Norwin junior claims a sport karate world title”. (January 14, 2011). Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Hunger, Brian (July 22, 2001). “Viola poised to provide karate scholarships for youth”. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, p. B3.
Wertz, Majorie (November 4, 2000). “North Huntingdon Township man hopes to hit it big in Tinsel Town”. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, p. 5.
Schofield, Melissa (November 1, 2000). “Former karate champion makes transition to music video”. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, p. E5.
1997 Sports Champions List”. (December 26, 1997). Slam Sports. http://www.canoe.ca/Slam1997/yearend_champslist.html