> USA karate story : Chuck Norris - Joe Lewis - Bill Wallace: Los Angeles, September the 14th 1974 : Beginning of Full-Contact

mardi 1 avril 2008

Los Angeles, September the 14th 1974 : Beginning of Full-Contact

Introduction :

In the history of full-contact, the night of September 14th 1974, in Los Angeles, can be understood as a starting point, a kind of founding myth or as a step in an ongoing development, or finally as a simple evening.

Without getting into a discussion useless on its historical role, we will mainly talk about his conduct. Regarding the World Champions sacred that evening, we will not return to their careers, already described in previous articles. We will use this text to give some information about their opponents, sometimes even remained completely unknown.

We will also mention the facts preceding and following this evening, as the selection of combatants and the result of their careers.

Background :

Karate is a continuous development in the USA, since the 1960's. First was traditional Karate tournaments, with the points fights. Since 1968, the professional Karate is existing. Blows were exchanged with greater impact. Fighters are paid for their performance. But since 1971, the media coverage of the fighting receded.

In 1970, Joe Lewis began his career as a fighter with KO. Before 1974, he said he had defended his World Champion title, awarded by any recognized organization, and each of its fights takes different forms (barefoot or protection, ring or open platform for the combatants, many different number of rounds, etc.) .

Apart from him, other American fighters are involved in those years with KO fights, as Viktor Moore against Jim Harrison, for example.

In 1973, an East-Coast Professional Karate Championships Tournament was held in Ocean City. Harvey Hastings won the heavyweight kick-boxing title in a fight against John Dutcher. Video of the fight : http://www.youtube.com/user/BandoBob1#p/u/8/Z70dYE965t4 Chuck Norris was the referee.

 Jack Dutcher Harvey Hastings
Jack Dutcher (left) ves Harvey Hastings

These sorts of battles existed for many years in other countries (France/French Boxing, Thailand/Japan or Thai Boxing/Kick-Boxing).

Before the evening :

According to the information retrieved, Don Quine is the manager of Bill Wallace, and also actor and script writer. The couple met Mike Anderson, the latter was trying to organize the first full-contact championships.

Mike Anderson, after a hard juvenile time, learns Taekwondo with Jhoon Rhee, father of the discipline in the USA and inventor of the protections for Karate. Mike Anderson went to Berlin to teach karate and met George Brückner, head of a martial arts school.

He comes back in the USA, and publishes a newspaper named "Professional Karate Magazine" and opens various schools Karate.

Mike Anderson, organizer of the evening, created the PKA (Professional Karate Association), two weeks after the evening in Los-Angeles.

Selections in America :

Three of the four Americans were selected, on the basis of their ranking in the Professional Karate, Wallace, Smith and Howard Jackson. We have already mentioned that Lewis, meanwhile, had an experiment in the fight with KO.

Howard Jackson Ramon Smith

Howard Jackson (left) versus Ramon Smith

Regarding the opponents of American favourites, two Canadians are called, Wally Slocki, which has already lost to Joe Lewis, in a match with KO (which would have been an exhibition according to Slocki). Wally Slocki was announced as having been champion Canada in 1967, 1968 and 1970. He also wins the heavyweights title during the East Coast vs West Coast Open Championship in New-York, in 1969. He beats Panama Jones.

The second Canadian, Daniel Richer, also practices Taekwondo and is the Champion of Canada . He was disqualified during the 1973 Top 10 Nationals, for having knocked out Al Dacascos. Richer has won the 1973 Tae Kyun Championships lightweight title against Gordon Franks, but has lost for the Grand-Champion, against Gerald Robbins.

The Mexican Isaias Duenas, meanwhile, participated in the Taekwondo World Championships in 1973 , in Korea.

Selections in Asia :

A 24-year-old Korean, Byong Yu Hong, practices Taekwondo and is the brother of Yong Byong Yu, who participates in professional Karate competitions, in the USA.

A Japanese, named Ryu Tenji or Ryu Kenji, 20 years old, was announced as the "Open Professional Champion of Japan". It seems to be practicing the Kempo.

Selections in Europe :

On this blog is an article about the selection of European fighters, in Berlin, on May 17, 1974, during a tournament organized by Georg Brückner.

The evening of September 14th 1974 :

The event will be conducted at the "Sports Arena" accommodating 13,000 spectators. 10,000 people are present. The fights took place on a open surface. They are scheduled for 3 rounds of 2 minutes for the playoffs, and 3 rounds of 3 minutes for the finals.

Isaias Duenas Ramon Smith Howard Jackson Byong Yu Daniel Richer Wally Slocki Jeff Smith

From left to right and from up to down : Duenas vs Ramon Smith, Smith vs Howard Jackson, Byong Yu vs Richer and Wally Slocki vs Jeff Smith

Only 4 weight divisions are planned, including lightweights (152 lbs.), middleweights (165 lbs. to 152 lbs.), light heavyweights (182 lbs. to 165 lbs.) and heavyweights (183 lbs. and over).

A total of USD 20,000 .-- premiums, is planned. The winners earn USD 3,000 .--.

The TV rights have been sold to Wide World of Entertainment. ABC retransmits the fights in a special Sports Late Night with commentator Telly Savalas, aka Kojac. This document will be released on December 27, 1974.

Surprisingly, the poster of this meeting has not full-contact fighters, but two bare hands interwoven. Unfortunately, we are not sure in fact if the poster depicted below is the original one's, even if it is presented as such on the site of the PKA [4].

Professional Karate Association
Fights of the evening :

The advertisements speak before the evening of "World Professional Karate Championships" and "Full Contact Rules Knockout Wins."

14 fighters are coming from 8 countries.

The rules stipulate that a knock-down let win the round, the latter being finished after the fall, which is consistent with a very old rule of early English boxing. The KO was declared after 5 seconds. The projections are allowed. The protections, invented by Jhoon Rhee, are laid, as they have already been used since 1973, in traditional Karate.

Wally Slocki vs Kenji Ryu

Wally Slocki vs Ryu Kenji

Playoffs lightweights.
Ramon Smith/Dominican Republic meets Howard Jackson/USA, the favourite of USA. He injured his knee before the fight, rolling waste, in a match. They try to project themselves. Smith wins on points.
Isaias Duenas/Mexico controls the match against Frank Knittel/Germany and wins by ko in the 2nd round. Video of the fight : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIHbej7LtUw

Playoffs middleweights.
Bill Wallace meets Bernd Grothe/Germany. The American leads in the first two rounds and eventually wins the fight.
Daniel Richer/Canada fights with Korean Byong Yu Richer, and wins on points.

Playoffs light heavyweights.
Jeff Smith beats Budimir Yejnovic at the 12th second of the 1st round.
The Canadian Wally Slocki meets Japanese Kenji Ryu. He weighs 30 pounds less than Slocki, who wins the battle. Video of the fight : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62K3W8isTjA

Lightweights finals :
Isaias Duenas def Ramon Smith by KOT, in the 3rd round, after having dominated the first two rounds.

Middleweights finals :
Bill Walace beats Daniel Richer, on points.

Light heavyweights finals :
Jeff Smith def Wally Slocki, on points, by split decision. The Canadian has a point deducted by the referee, following a failure to observe the rules. Video of the fight : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qDbxdQ29os

Heavyweights finals :
Joe Lewis meets Franc Brodar/Yugoslavia. Lewis drops his opponent in the first round, thanks to a blow on the nose. He falls in the 2nd round and Lewis wins by KO.

After a vision of videos available on the Internet, it is clear that athletes should not make combinations with their blows, according to the rules. They are obliged to issue a number of kicks per round. The battles are very similar with semi-contact fights, exception made of the power of the blows.

About these videos, we mention first the site of the WAKO (which had nothing to do with this evening). In his video presentation, the WAKO shows some sequences, primarily Isaiah Duenas and Joe Lewis : http://www.wako.org.nz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14&Itemid=30

Bill Wallace's fights are also available at: http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=mXRf20idwbY. You will notice how the fights are suspended after falls.

Finally, we will mention the clip of the PKA, which presents excerpts from the fights of the 4 winners: http://www.pka-kickboxing.com/pka-kickboxing-history.html.

Where are they now ?

Wally Slocki gets rematch against Jeff Smith. He will also lose by a split decision (see article about Jeff Smith). Daniel Richer, meanwhile, appears to have taken part in a Taekwondo match between the USA and Canada, in 1975 and at Henry Cho's Tournament in 1976.

Ruy Kenji left no trace. The same goes for all fighters from Germany.

The consequences :

It is interesting to note that newspapers of the era, including the "Karate Illustrated" of January 1975, provide comprehensive reporting of the evening, but without doing a special issue and without mentioning that this evening would have been something else that a competition among others.

Some karate teachers criticize this new form of Karate, saying that it is detrimental to schools. The images were giving the impression that the full-contact was taught in all schools. According to them, the term full-contact Karate should have been replaced by kick-boxing.

He left the PKA in June 1975. His newspaper disappeared a few years later.

Following internal problems and competition, the PKA will be dissolved, and then picked up by other organizers. Other federations like WAKO, will take the upper hand in the organization's full-contact.

Conclusions :

The full-contact, now named kick-boxing in the USA, will take place in a more organized way, even if the federations often change, as well as their regulations.

In addition, the three champions of the World from USA, Lewis, Wallace and Smith became tutelary figures of this sport, not hesitating to stand as true patriarchs, on their respective website.

It is interesting to note that the most common iconography exposes only the three American champions, while a photo exists, with the Mexican. (See below) :

Since 1975, full-contact landed in Europe during competitions, which are the subject of separate articles in this blog.

1. Http://www.wako-deutschland.de/geschichte.htm

2. Http://selbstverteidigung-sl.de/kikboxsen.htm

3. Http://www.chronik-karate.de/

4. Http://www.pkakickboxing.tv/pka_history.htm

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