Friday & Saturday May 7th-8th 2004 was “Physical Fitness & Sports Day” for The Pittsburgh areaFriday & Saturday May 7th-8th 2004 was “Physical Fitness & Sports Day” for The Pittsburgh area. Thousands of spectators, consumers, competitors, exhibitors, industry experts, talent scouts, and celebrities from across the United States gathered at the Pittsburgh Sports & Fitness Festival, presented by Kumite Classic Entertainment. The unique, multi-faceted extravaganza encompassed all aspects of fitness & sports into a one of a kind expo at Pittsburgh`s preferred convention complex, The Expo Mart.
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Submission Grappling tournaments attracted competitors from all over the U.S., Canada, and Brazil and was stacked with talent from the brown-belt divisions all the way down to the white-belt divisions. This tournament also served as great exposure for the sport to the western Pennsylvania area, where tournaments of this caliber have been almost nonexistent.
The show started with the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (gi) tournament, which featured an open weight class of very tough brown-belts. However, size would prove not to be the deciding factor, as 175 lb. Andrew Correa (a.k.a. JiuJitsuNow.com) won with relative ease, finishing a much larger opponent in the finals, in about 30 seconds with a very quick guard pass to arm-bar sequence. The purple-belt division needed one more competitor for its round robin format, so D.C. Cunanan (a.k.a. FarEastGrappler) from Team Ground-Zero decided to step-up only to face one of the most highly technical gi competitors there, Royce Gracie protégé James Terlecki. This match would prove to have the fastest and most exciting action of the gi tournament, which suddenly ended with a Terlecki clock-choke in transition, after Cunanan gave a valiant effort. Terlecki then went on to face a 220 lb. Pedro Sauer purple-belt, awing the crowd with his ability to overcome size and strength with speed and technique by making the score all but void with a beautiful gi-choke from the back with about 1-minute left in the fight. After a considerable rest period, the big purple-belt decided not to fight for 2nd place, which gave Cunanan a 2nd place finish in the purple-belt division.
The blue-belt division was stacked and competitive at every weight class. After the women refused to roll with the current Pan Ams women’s champ, 16 year-old Kizma Button (a.k.a. BJJpsycho), they were able to fit her into the Men’s middleweight blue-belt division, where she got the crowd amped by stymieing all of her much older, larger, and stronger competitor’s submission attempts while showing no fear. After losing on points to the eventual winner, her next opponent declined a chance at fighting her, and she earned a 3rd-place finish.
Personally, I hadn’t planned on competing until 9 p.m. Friday night. I hadn’t trained in a while due to final exams and spent the whole night partying with some people I won’t be seeing for a very long time, since I’m graduating. Donnie “Duck” Tennant and Kevin “Quicksilver” Dixon ended up dragging my ass out of bed at 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning to make the weigh-ins on time. I’m glad they did, because it was both of their BJJ/Sub Fighting debuts and they both made very strong showings in the Beginner divisions. Hopped up on energy drinks and Dunkin Donuts I weighed in at a svelte 169lbs. and worked my way through to the finals of the Men’s Welterweight Blue-Belt division. About midway through the fight I caught my opponent in a very tight triangle and as I shifted my hips he started tapping with his trapped arm. As I motioned to the ref that he was tapping, I must have released some pressure and he wriggled his way free and claimed he never tapped. Lesson Learned: Never let go, until the ref pulls you off. He ended up winning by two points, but I got the fight on tape with the dude tapping.
The second half of the show, featured a lot more competitors in the Submission Grappling (no-gi) portion of the show. The divisions were broken down into Masters, Advanced, Intermediate, Beginner, and Novice with the same weight classes as the gi divisions. Just as before, they started with the upper-level competitors, but included a Super-Fight between Alliance/Jacare student, Chris Moriarty and Eric Hibbler student, Bill Vucick, which Moriarity won via triangle midway through the fight.
Next up was the Men’s masters division which featured another Super-Fight between Ground-Zero’s FarEastGrappler and Wilson Pereira Matos brown-belt, JiuJitsuNow.com, which ended up being the most highly technical and exciting match of the day with JiuJitsuNow.com getting the nod, 2 to 0 (advantages).
I ended up making it to the finals in a very stacked Men’s Welterweight Advanced division against the Kumite Classic’s defending champion, a very game competitor Brad Hoyle, who I got to see tear through his division, in person last summer, at BadBreed.TV’s tournament at the West Virginia State Championships in Charleston, WV, with a display of flying arm-bars and leg-locks that impressed everyone. By this point I was fighting on pure adrenaline and barely had enough energy to make it out to the mats. However, we wasted no time and quickly hit the floor and flew around the mats exchanging top and bottom positions almost non-stop. As I opened his guard, I quickly fell back into a straight achilles-lock, which ended up turning our fight into a leg-lock war (since all leg-locks were legal). By this point we were both spent and it was a matter of who wanted it more. I was able to wiggle out of his heel-hook and triangle my legs to tighten the foot-lock. My corner (D.C.) then instructed me to roll over, belly-down on it, and as I did, I completely extended my hips and arched my back to the sound of his ankle popping. I have no idea what kept him from tapping, but he hung on and gritted it out until time expired. He ended up raising my hand after he was announced the winner and told me he’s gonna be limping for a few weeks. He’s a very cool dude, probably one of the toughest mofos I’ve ever rolled with, and I look forward to doing it again in the near future!
BJJpsycho once again was forced to step up and fight the men and did so without hesitation. Instead she was given a bye and had to face the winner of the Men’s Light-Heavyweight Intermediate division, which turned out to be a very muscular 205 lb. blue-belt. After BJJpsycho’s perfromance in the gi division, everyone seemed to crowd tha mats to see this 5’2″ girl fight this 6 foot man. She started out by clinching with him, which energized the crowd, but was taken down and started working her guard. Every time he would start to pass, she intelligently rolled to all fours to prevent the pass. When he took her back to go up 6-0, she stayed very composed and listened to her corner (D.C. and I) by spinning into his guard and passing it with ease. As he tried to put her back into guard, she stood up, but controlled his left foot as he stood, for a perfect single-leg which got the entire crowd on its feet, as she was only down 6-5 at this point. She stayed composed and quickly passed his guard for an 8-6 advantage, but wanted more and stayed active until time expired. The guy looked completely shocked and the crowd was going nuts. FarEastGrappler, her father, and I couldn’t have been more proud and she was quickly approached by cameramen from the area who are eager to do an interview with her in a week or so, infront of 250,000 viewers for BlackBeltTV. They said any 16 year-old who won a Men’s Light-Heavyweight Intermediate division would be newsworthy, but it’s even more amazing that she’s a girl!
Some other noteworthy fights in the Men’s Submission Grappling involved Kosta’s boy, Brandon who trains under Rob Kahn. I’m not sure if this was his debut or not, but he made a very impressive showing in the Men’s Heavyweight Beginner division, running through his first two opponents 17-0 and 20-0 respectively, before getting caught in a 320 pounders “judo-belly” from north-south, and ended up finishing 3rd overall. Paul “Manly” Mann who is a 17 year-old high school senior, who just started training with us a few weeks ago, took first in both his gi (white-belt) and no-gi (beginner) divisions, as well, while demonstrating some jaw-dropping Matt Hughes-like takedowns (without the brutality).
Other highlights of the Kumite Classic consisted of Ice-T who was on hand in a Renzo Gracie rash-guard with his beautiful wife Coco to promote his new energy drink, Liquid Ice. He was very friendly and personable shaking hands, talking, and taking pictures with everyone he met. The full-contact karate featured one dude kicking his opponent (who was behind him) over his shoulder, a la Jean-Claude in “Blood Sport”, and flooring him with a follow-up axe kick to the shoulder! The world bench-press record was also broken, at 925lbs., by this behemoth of a man that looked like he had a truck inside of his chest. The arm-wrestling tournament was very rowdy, which was highlighted by a “truck-driver trying to win custody of his kid” that ended up winning it all by “going over the top!” The break-dancing competition was pretty “phat,” but they’re lucky I was too tired to participate from competing, or a couple foolios would have surely been “served!” The beauty pageant, fitness modeling, and finess pageant were also some of my personal highlights and made this event and weekend completely enjoyable!