There is more to the story of the rise of MMA sports than the UFC. There’s the story of Bill Viola and Frank Caliguri of Pittsburgh, PA who were well versed with the big question which had been long debated among Martial Artist; which system reigns superior? From there they created “Tough Guys.” Their new sports league allowed athletes to fight in the ring with any and all Martial Arts training they desired in attempts to discover which art proved supreme.
With the rise of this MMA sport, many began to view it as a threat. Those involved in the business of Boxing knew mixed fighting would hurt their business and eventually knock out its popularity. Politicians, lawyers, and more with their own intentions came to stop the sport from rising. A league with a similar namesake had legal trouble which proved to be powerful ammunition against “Tough Guys” as well. After a long haul fighting individuals from many sides, Viola and Caliguri ran out of money to continue their legal battle. MMA faded away.
The sport wasn’t gone for too long however. Later the UFC took up the reigns and got everything rolling again. Now MMA is a power house and the UFC has all the credit for bringing the sport to life. Viola’s and Caliguri’s influence almost fell into obscurity but a loyal son brought their story back to light.
Bill Viola Jr. wanted to give his father and Caliguri credit for all the ground work they laid for the sport. Since no book on the history of MMA mentions them, he aimed to tell the world what was missing from the sport’s written history. With co-writer Dr. Fred Adams, God Fathers of MMA was created covering the drama, heartache, inspiration, power, and excitement which came as a result of Viola and Caliguri. Most importantly for Martial Artists, MMA’s new ground proved no fighting system rules over all. To be the best fighter, you must master a system and branch into other fighting styles. That was the best gift the God Father’s of MMA ever gave to Martial Arts. – Paige Etheridge
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