> USA karate story : Chuck Norris - Joe Lewis - Bill Wallace: Three champions but not three stars, Natividad, Kurban, Garcia

dimanche 1 mai 2011

Three champions but not three stars, Natividad, Kurban, Garcia

Introduction :

This three fighters have each had a year of outstanding success, but without becoming karate stars, despite a strong media exposure in newspapers and in movies.

"The Happy Days"
Photo of a karate team in Hawaii.
Second row, 5th and 6th from left, Darnell Garcia and John Natividad.

These three athletes have in common the Taekwondo and were part of the documentary "The New Gladiators."

John Natividad :

Early career :

John Natividad was born in Hawaii, from Chinese and Filipino parents. He lived in Germany. with his father, in the army in this country. Student of Chuck Norris and practicing Tang Soo Do, he received his black belt in 1970. He is 5-11 and weighs 175 pounds.

From November 1972 Black Belt magazine issue. In 1971, during the U.S. All-Star Team Karate Championships in Long Beach/California, John Natividad was part of the Chuck Norris' team. Natividad was planned to fight with Jerry Piddington. At the last moment, Natividad learned that he had to fight against Joe Lewis, the Champion of the time. Natividad, showing one's best side, hit Lewis at every movements. To the great surprise of all, the Hawaiian wins the fight. For this victory, among others, John Natividad will thereafter be named "Giants Killer".

John Natividad was able to win against the best, and also able to lose against the weakest, according to the same article.

According to the June 1972 Black Belt issue, John Natividad is eliminated by disqualification against Vern Vaden,, during the qualifying fights for the 1972 World Championships, in Paris. Natividad has hit with a blow with too much contact in the belly of his opponent. The newspaper reported that Natividad is one of the few non shotokan fighters, and that problems between federation exists in these playoffs.

According to the December 1972 Black Belt issue, Natividad loses by 2-1, against Roy Kurban in Boulder/Colorado, at the Four Seasons Karate Summer Champioships.

According to the February 1973 Official Karate issue, John Natividad beats Roy Kurban, during the National Black Belt Championships, in 1972.

"1973" the perfect year:

According to the October 1973 Black Belt issue, Natividad beats Roy Kurban, during the Yamashita Open Karate Tournament in 1973, in Gardena/California, for the heavyweight title. Natividad is leading the fight, before Kurban comes back. During the sudden-death overtime, Natividad scores a point and wins the game. For the title of Grand Champion, Howard Jackson beats Natividad, also in overtime.

According to the Official Karate November 1973 issue, Natividad beats Roy Kurban, during the Colorado State Championships.

John Natividad (right) against Roy Kurban

According to an article published in the April 1973 Black Belt Magazine, John Natividad loses against Ralph Alegria, during the Grand Championship for the 3rd International Karate Championships, in Las Vegas. Previously, Natividad had beaten Blinky Rodriguez for the final of the heavyweights and Benny Urquidez during the playoff for the Grand Championships.

In 1973, Natividad loses against Jeff Smith at the Battle of Atlanta. At the Top Ten Nationals, Jeff Smith beats John Natividad again, during the playoffs.

The fight against Benny Urquidez :

This section is based on the December 1973 Black Belt issue. In August 1973, during the Internationals Karate Championships in Long Beach, organized by Ed Parker, he fights against John Natividad. He received the same premium as the winner, USD 2'500 .--. This battle is considered the best fight ever in points karate. John Natividad, a native of Hawaii, practices Tang Soo Do and is a student of Chuck Norris. Natividad had already won numerous tournaments before this victory.

Benny Urquidez beats Kraig Smith by 3-0 and wins the lightweights title. John Natividad def Choo Choo Mayes for the light-heavyweights title. For the Grand Champion title, Natividad beats Ralph Algegria by 2-0 and Benny Urquidez defeats Bob Burbidge, by 3-2.

In the finals, John Natividad wins the first round against Benny Urquidez by 3-2. In the second round, John Natividad received a penalty for a reverse punch, with face contact. Urquidez leads by 6-4 at the end of the 2nd round. In the 3rd round, a spinning back kick ? from Benny Urquidez struck Natividad squarely in the jaw. Urquidez is penalized. At the end of the 3rd round, the fighters are at 12-12. During the overtime, Natividad gives a reverse punch and win the match by 13-12.

Benny Urquidez (left) against John Natividad

The New Gladiators :

John Natividad had a role in the documentary "The New Gladiators," with the story of a trip in Europe for an American karate team. In this blog, a separate article is devoted to this film.

Here is an excerpt from the film, with too short excerpts of the fights of John Natividad, in England and Belgium. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNULKCYeipg

End of career :

According to the January 1974 Official Karate issue, John Natividad loses against Everett Monsterman Eddy, for the Four Seasons Las Vegas Nationals.

According to the May 1974 Black Belt issue, John Natividad loses against Darnell Garcia, for the 2nd Annual Open Karate Tournament Yamashita. A kick from Darnell Garcia gives him the only point of the fight and the victory.

Natividad retired from competition in 1975.

Style :

According to the october 1974 Black-Belt issue, Natividad is described this way "... he is equally formidable with both hands but is noted for his spectacular arsenal of kicks... John succesfsully employs broken rythm and deceptive hip feint to score his patented roundhouse and side kicks... John's most sucessfull technique, however, is a left-hand reverse punch usually aimed at an opponent's armpits or ribs...".

After Karate :

He studied history and political science at the University of Nevada.

He has since worked in insurance and continued to teach karate in various U.S. cities.

Roy Kurban :

Early career :

Roy Kurban began martial arts in 1965, with Allen Steen, in his Taekwondo style. He received his black belt in 1968. He also trained in Korea, for a year, during is military service in that country. He measures 6'2''and weighs 180 lbs. He fought mainly in the heavyweights division.

According to the December 1972 Black Belt issue, Roy Kurban wins the Karate Olympics, in Houston/Texas. In the finals for the Grand Championships, Kurban beats Jeff Smith, after having beaten Ralph Jask, by 4-2. and Max Aslup for the heavyweight title, by 5-4. Here are excerpts from fights, maybe vs Max Aslup and Ralph Jask. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHJGhX970bo and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9zOJVoczN0

According to the same newspaper, Roy Kurban wins the Four Seasons, in Colorado, against Jim Butin, in the final, after having beaten John Natividad.

"1973", the perfect year :

In 1973, for the United States Karate Championships, Bill Wallace beats Kurban in the final of the Grand Championship, with a kick.


Roy Kurban, in white, against Bill Wallace

The New Gladiators :

In 1973, Roy Kurban is in the documentary "The New Gladiators". In this blog, a separate article is devoted to this film.

At the Beverly Hill Invitational, the following fights are represented : Steve Sanders (Muhammad) def Hernandez by disqualification. Roy Kurban beats Blinky Rodriguez, Cecil Peoples and Ray Sua, before beating Steve Sanders during the finals http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoJld8Kdrsw. Fighters are wearing foot protections. Only body contact is allowed. Finally, during the 1974 U.S. Nationals Championships, with fighters wearing foot and fist protections, light head contact is authorized, as full body contact. Roy Kurban beats first Darnell Garcia, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7Pah1grDqg, then Benny Urquidez for the finals.

The April 1975 Black Belt Magazine issue mentions this tournament under the name Western Pro/Am Karate Championships, in Oakland/CA. If the pictures of the fighters in the newspapers are the same as in the film, it is mentioned in Black-Belt that Kurban beats Benny Urquidez in the semi-finals and Darnell Garcia in the finals. This version is confirmed by the March 1975 Professional Karate issue. The movie has probably made the mistake with a false chronology of the semi-finals and finals. The prize-monney for the winner is USD 1,000 .--.

End of career :

According to the July 1974 Black Belt issue, Roy Kurban, winner of the two former editions of the U.S. Karate Championships, is absent from the current edition. He would have been banned by the American Karate Black Belt Association, for an unspecified reason. He had a problem with Allen Steen.

According to the April 1975 Black Belt edition, in Oakland at the Western Pro/Am Karate Championships, which is mentionned as a professional Karate fight, Roy Kurban beats Darnell Garcia in the final, after having beaten Benny Urquidez. The contact "moderate to strong", depending to the targets, is allowed in this fights. Kurban wins USD 500 .--.

In 1976, he probably won a full contact fight against Blinky Rodriguez, NKL, Ft Worth/Texas, without further details.

Style :

According to the october 1973 Black-Belt issue, Roy Kurban is described this way "...Kurban combines superb conditioning with smooth technique and analytical game plans. He regards his most successful tactics as the front-leg spin kick, the back-knuckle strike and the reverse punch used in a wide variety of combinations... he generates power as well as speed".

After Karate :

Roy Kurban stopped the competition in 1977.

He went to the University, as a student in Law.

In 1978, Roy Kurban wrote the book "Kicking Techniques for Competition and Self Defense".

Roy Kurban has served as an instructor in various polices and in the U.S. Army. He also served as a police officer and a judge.

Darnell Garcia :

Early career :

Darnell Garcia, student with a Bachelor of Science Degree, is serving in the U.S. army, as a M.P and in the Intelligence Services, until 1968. He began martial arts with Chuck Norris, with the Taekwondo. Darnell Garcia is an instructor in a Chuck Norris' school. He is most often referred as a light-heavyweight fighter, but sometimes changes from categorie.

"1972" the perfect year :

According to the August 1972 Black Belt edition, during the National Black Belt Championships in Albuquerque/New Mexico, Bill Wallace beats Darnell Garcia in the final of the Grand Championships, during the overtime.

Darnell Garcia (right) against Fred Wren

Darnell Garcia won the Grand Champion Internationals Karate Championships in 1972, against Joe Lewis. After this title, a big surprise, Darnell Garcia will be considered as one of the best fighters of the year.

Darnell Garcia, right, against Joe Lewis

In 1973, during the U.S. Pro/Am or U.S. Open Championships, at Ocean City, Jeff Smith beats Darnell Garcia, by 5-4. A video of a Darnell Garcia's fight in this championship against Bradley Holland, is available at this address : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3EYnt0AIqc

According to the January 1974 Official Karate issue, Darnel Garcia won the Grand Championships at the Las Vegas Four Seasons Nationals, in 1973, beating Johnny Bell in the final. He earned USD 400 .--.

According to the May 1974 Black Belt issue, John Natividad loses against Darnell Garcia, for the 2nd Annual Open Karate Tournament Yamashita. A kick from Darnell Garcia gives him the only point of the fight and the victory.

In 1974, Jeff Smith beats Darnell Garcia, at the International Karate Championships Ed Parker, at Long Beach.

According to the July 1974 Official Karate edition, Bill Wallace beats Darnell Garcia in the quarter-finals of the Battle of Atlanta.

The New Gladiators :

Darnell Garcia is in the documentary "The New Gladiators" about the trip in Europe for an American karate team. In this blog, a separate article is devoted to this movie. Video of Garcia's fights in England and Belgium. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNULKCYeipg

During the 1974 U.S. Nationals Championships, with fighters wearing foot and fist protections, light head contact is authorized, as full body contact. Roy Kurban beats first Darnell Garcia, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7Pah1grDqg, then Benny Urquidez for the finals.

The April 1975 Black Belt Magazine issue mentions this tournament under the name Western Pro/Am Karate Championships, in Oakland/CA. If the pictures of the fighters in the newspapers are the same as in the film, it is mentioned in Black-Belt that Kurban beats Benny Urquidez in the semi-finals and Darnell Garcia in the finals. This version is confirmed by the March 1975 Professional Karate issue. The movie has probably made the mistake with a false chronology of the semi-finals and finals. The prize-monney for the winner is USD 1,000 .--.

End of career :

According to the April 1975 Black Belt edition, in Oakland at the Western Pro/Am Karate Championships, which is mentionned as a professional Karate fight, Roy Kurban beats Darnell Garcia in the final, after having beaten Benny Urquidez. The contact "moderate to strong", depending to the targets, is allowed in this fights. Kurban wins USD 500 .--.

On May 10, 1975, in Long Island, for the WPKO heavyweight title, Fred Miller beats Darnell Garcia, on points. An article in this blog is devoted to this championship, organized by Aaron Banks.

Darnell Garcia has appeared in various films, including "Enter the Dragon", for a very small role. Video of the fight : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96c78FzDLLo

Two pictures from "Enter The Dragon" with Darnell Garcia and John Saxon

He has written two books, "Explosive Instincts and Mind Power" and "Fighting Art of Tang Soo Do".




Style :

In the october 1974 Black Belt issue, Darnell Garcia is mentionned this way "...a very smart fighter who uses the right techniques at the right time, Garcia combines a simple and direct fighting style with analytical insight. He scores the majority of his points with a left reverse punch and a deceptive right roudhouse kick. Even when he is ahead by several points, he doesn't after his fighting style to become fancier. Instead, he consistently scores his techniques in such a fashin that the referee and at least two side judges will see them...".

After Karate :

After his career as a karateka, Darnell Garcia began working for the Police Department in Los Angeles. After that, he worked for the DEA. He seems to have been in trouble with the law and was sentenced to jail.

Conclusions :

It is difficult to explain why these 3 fighters did not become more famous than others karate of the time. Natividad, Kurban and Garcia have plenty of wins in their records. Each of this fighters has dominated the american karate during one year.

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