> USA karate story : Chuck Norris - Joe Lewis - Bill Wallace: Tommy Lee's World Series of Martial Arts Championships

jeudi 3 juillet 2008

Tommy Lee's World Series of Martial Arts Championships

Introduction :

The Worlds Series of Martial Arts Championships (WSMAC) represented one of the most important development of the fights with ko, even if this series have left less traces than the 1974 first PKA World Championship, for example. It is therefore interesting to go back on these series, which made fighters famous, as Benny Urquidez, for example.

This article is mainly based on November 1975 Oriental Fighting Arts magazine, March and June 1975 Professional Karate magazines and November as December 1975 Black Belt magazines.

Despite this abundant literature, it is difficult to determine the exact dates of these series and the personality of their founder, Tommy Lee. We can not guarantee the accuracy of what is following.

Background :

The first PKA World Championships have already taken place in Los Angeles and the professional American karate is disappearing. At this time, the mixed fights between various sports are not practiced in tournaments.

Tommy Lee :

Tommy Lee, of Asian origin, is known in Honolulu/Hawaii, as a famous surfer and a surf hardware trader. He associated with a producer named Marty Mains (Mardy Mains, possibly a lady).

Tommy Lee, Benny Urquidez, Marty Mains, Everett Eddy

Tommy Lee, Benny Urquidez, ?, Everett Eddy

Rules :

They decided to create a "no-rules" tournament. It seems impossible. Various masters came to Hawaii, to decide rules. The blows are accounted with a points system. The takedowns are accepted, as immobilizations. The win can also come by the way of the ko.

Fighters will be protected with Safe-T, or Jhoon Rhee protections, and all areas intended for delivering blows or strikes must be padded (for example : elbows). It is forbidden to hit some parts of the body .

The fighters may come from various sports.

1st Serie : November 14th and 15th, 1974. Honolulu/Hawaii

This first round has no weight division. A total of USD 10,000 .-- is to divide between the fighters, the last winner won USD 5,000 .-

At the end of the first day, 16 finalists are designated, according to their results :

Blinky Rodriguez beats Dennis Lyttle, video http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=DvB5xnKF1t0.
Smiley Urquidez loses against Burnis White.

Dana Goodson beats :
Jack Atkins by ko in the 1st round
Blink Ordelies on points
Blinky Rodriguez on points, http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=xTCRxRcBh48.

Benny Urquidez beats:
Futi Semana, ko in the 2nd
Tom Mossman, in the 2nd
Burnis White by ko in the 2nd
Billy Rosehill by kot in the 3rd. This fight was not the semi-finals, as mentioned in Oriental Martial Arts magazine.

Rosehill practiced Taekwondo (as Judo and Ju-Jitsu) and it is his single combat in WSMAC. This tournament was advertised in Hawaii and he simply enrolled. Thanks to him for information.

In the finals, Benny Urquidez, natural lightweight, beats Dana Goodson on points. Goodson measures 6'1'' and weighs 230 lbs. Urquidez has managed to send his opponent to the canvas and to pin him for 5 seconds. His superior physical condition has enabled Urquidez to dominate his opponent, video http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=yblJ9VqHW8w. Thanks to Shawn for his marvelous videos.

Benny Urquidez Dana Goodson World Series of Martial Arts Championships
Finals: Benny Urquidez, left, vs Dana Goodson.

This serie is a financial fiasco.

According to the Urquidez record, from his book "King of the Ring", it is possible that there was a fight in Hawaii, for the WSMAC, in December 1974. Benny Urquidez beats Burnis White, by ko in the 4th ?

2nd Serie : May 16th, 1975. Los Angeles Sports Arena

Since this series, weight divisions appear. 7,000 spectators are present.

For the lightweights, Benny Urquidez beats Roland Talton, by ko in the 2nd. Talton is chairman of the BKF (Black Karate Federation, created after a non-deserved defeat of Steve Sanders, alias Sijo, against Joe Lewis, in traditional Karate). Roland Talton had already won by ko against Bill Owens in 1974 at a full-contac tournamentt named The Black Dragon Martial Arts Show. During this same tournament, Talton lost against Sammy Pace, on points.

Bill Henderson (Kung Fu) def on points Manny Charusarn, a Thai kick-boxer. Manny Charusarn has already beaten Steve Fischer on points at the Black Dragon Martial Arts Show in 1974. Charusarn beats Manuel Urquidez in the finals of this tournament.

In the finals of the WSMAC, Urquidez beats Bill Henderson by standing tko in the 2nd round. Video of the fight : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUyyvUF6VUk

In the heavyweights, Everett "Monster Man" Eddy beats Sam Pace (also BKF), with a hard ko in the 2nd round, with a series of kicks and punches. Sammy Pace had already beaten Choo Choo Mayes and Roland Talton at the Black Dragon Martial Arts Show in 1974, a full-contact tournament. Dana Goodson beats Ken Bell, by ko in the 3rd.

In the finals, Everett Eddy beats Dana Goodson. Video of the fight : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ba9AgpwW-8c Thanks to David Leonardo for his details.

Everett Monsterman Eddy Dana Goodson
Everett "Monsterman" Eddy (left) vs Dana Goodson

3rd Serie : June 21st, 1975. Honolulu/Hawaii, H.I.C. Arena

Only 12 fighters are selected for this series. Each division winner receive USD 3,000 .--.

In the lightweights, Benny Urquidez beats Sanun Plypoolsup, a Thai kick-boxer, by tko, who was allegedly the 2nd in the Asian Games. Benny receives kicks in the legs, but his opponent loses, following an face injury.

Benny Urquidez Sanun Plypoolsup
Benny Urquidez (right), in a rare position, pinning Plypoolsup

Burnis White (taekwondo) def Cecil Peoples, on points. In the finals, Urquidez beats White by tko in the 2nd. White had injured his foot.

Farrell Sojot loses against Augie Evans, in the 2nd round. Reggie Padilla beats Duke Domen, by ko in the 1st round.

In the heavyweights, Victor Rapoza, practicing Kenpo of Hawaii and starting in full-contact, beats Chris Michael, by tko.

Victor Rapoza Chris Michael
Victor Rapoza (right) against Chris Michael

Everett Eddy beats on points Duke Sabedong, an old boxer with 17 victories (12 by ko), 16 losses, (4 by ko) and 2 draws. From Hawaii, Sabedong is already 45 years old. He lost on points in ten rounds, in 1961, against the young Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay at this time). His career has been stopped in 1964.

In the finals, Victor Rapoza beats Eddy, by ko in the 2nd. The latter had already been beaten by ko, on June 8th, 1975, against a boxer named Horst Geisler, during a mixed fight.

4th Serie : July 27th, 1975. Honolulu/Hawaii, HIC Arena

There are 4 weight divisions.

The Thai kick-boxer Buthsombat wins his first match, against Jang Hee Pak. Mike Rodriguez beats Steve Murakami, via disqualification. In the finals, Buthsombat beats Rodriguez.

In the middleweights, Land is disqualified and Sam Pace is qualified, as Burnis White, who has beaten on points Keoni May, a Wado Ryu and Muay Thai practitioner. Keoni May has taken part in three WSMAC and has also fought in his career a total of three times against Burnis White. In 1974, Keoni May has beaten a Win Chu practitioner from Hong Kong, by ko in the 2nd round. Keoni May has also beaten Mike Frazier. He is now an Aikido teacher. Thanks to Keoni May for information. In the WSMAC finals, White beats Sam Pace, by ko.

In the light-heavyweights, Augie Evans wins his first fight and Jeff Smith (PKA full-contact World Champion since 1974) def Ben Wilbor, by tko in the 2nd. In the finals, Smith beats Evans, by tko.

In the heavyweights, Teddy Limoz beats Ken Bell , by tko in the first round.

Joe Lewis (PKA full-contact World Champion since 1974) def Ron Clay, by ko in the 1st round. Link to the video of the fight : http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=fszI5BJQQKk

In the finals, Ted Limoz beats Joe Lewis, on points. These struggles are detailed in the article devoted to Joe Lewis, in this blog, .

It should be noted that the fighters were wearing protective elbows and therefore had the right to use these body parts to hit their opponent. It does not seem that the projections and immobilizations have been used during the fight. On the video, we note that Ron Clay employs the knee blows.

Serie no ? : 01.10.1976, Hawaii.

We are not sure of what is following. Ross Scott beats Victor Rapoza by ko. According to the March 1980 Black-Belt issue, they made a draw. During the same day, Dana Goodson def Ross Scott by ko. It was not PKA title fights. According to others sources, the Ross Scott vs Dana Goodson fight took place in 1981 ? Burnis White, announced as the world middleweights champion, practicing Tae Kwon Do and Wu Shu Boxing, meets Glenn McMorris.

World Series of Martial Arts Championships posterPoster of 1976 WSMAC

Other WSMAC ? :

Without being able to be affirmative, it is possible that other WSMAC have taken place thereafter. On the Benny Urquidez record, we find :

October 12th, 1975, Los Angeles

Benny Urquidez beats Bill Henderson, by ko in the 2nd ? Is it the same fight as above mentioned ?

June 18th (or August) 1976, Dallas

Benny Urquidez beats Sanun Plypoolsup, on points in 8 rounds.

What for a tournament ?

In the November 1976 Black Belt issue, a report mentions a tournament in Hawaii, with a team of the island against a team from Hong Kong. Burns White beats Mark Costello, by decision in the 1st round, before beating Freddie Avilles in the finals, on points.

A kick-boxer, Charley Juail and a freeform-fighter Cisco Labuanon beat their opponents of Hong Kong, while John Han beats Ho Tung Kai in 35 seconds. Finally, in the heavyweights, James Dwight beats Triplett Honest.

If this meeting is not mentioned as a WSMAC, pictures show fighters with the same protections on the elbows, not to mention that Burnis White was also part of WSMAC.

If you have more information on WSMAC and Tommy Lee,
please send me a message.

Where are they now ? :

We will not talk about Joe Lewis, Jeff Smith and Benny Urquidez. They are each the subject of a separate article in this blog.

There is a special article about Ted Limoz, Victor Rapoza and Dana Goodson, in this blog.

Burnis White is currently announced as a 6th level of Puma System, "Pacific Unified Martial Arts", a mixture of various American martial arts styles. In 1977, he will lose on points in Hawaii, against Bill Wallace, for the PKA middleweights title. The final record for Mr White is 30 wins (25 ko) and 3 losses. Thank you to him for his information and pictures.

Everett "Monsterman" Eddy is a leading figure of the U.S. karate and full-contact. He will lose against Scott Ross for the title and against Antonio Inoki, in a mixed fight. Cecil Peoples is also a famous fighter of this period.

Conclusions :

We know, unfortunately, nothing about the Tommy Lee's career as an promoter.

It should be noted that a large part of the fighters were coming from Hawaii, and were sometimes beginners.

As a mixed fights background, we mention a fight between boxing and judo, with the fighter Milo Savage (39 years old, 49 wins, 44 lost, 10 drawn) opposed to Gene LeBell, (31 ans), in 1963. This fight ended with the victory of the judoka Lebell , in the 5th round, with a neck choke (or a strangulation). The fight, obviously not fixed, can be seen at : http://www.worldblackbeltvideo.com/video/40/Gene-LeBell-vs-Milo-Savage-34

The WSMAC have been one of the first versions of mixed fights, which become very long after the UFC or MMA. Very precursors, they combined already blows, throws and immobilizations.

It is surprising that, at the end of WSMAC, such a long period has lasted until UFC and other tournaments will come, in the nineties. Various independent initiatives have existed, such as little serious battle between the boxer Muhammad Ali and the wrestler Antonio Inoki, in 1976, or Satoru Sayama (Tiger Mask) vs Mark Costello in 1977.