The 2016 class of 40 Pittsburghers Under the age of 40 who are shaping our region was celebrated by Pittsburgh Magazine October 21st at the Rivers Casino. For the past 18 years, Pittsburgh Magazine and the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project has complied a prestigious list to honor and recognize outstanding people ranging from CEOs to non-profit leaders who are changing the city for the better. These influential leaders are featured in November’s issue of Pittsburgh Magazine, now on newsstands. The list is considered the premier honor for young professionals in Western Pennsylvania.
The process to narrow an entire city and region down to just 40 recipients is a daunting task that included a through selection process. Viola Jr. caught the eye of the committee through his reputation as a leader in the martial arts industry and the recent award winning books. As the author of “Godfathers of MMA,” his work is recognized at the Heinz History Center, in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institute with an exhibit that chronicles Pittsburgh as the birthplace of modern mixed martial arts. The book, inspired by his father’s [Bill Viola Sr.] life story is the subject and basis of the film; Tough Guys (now is post production).
As graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, he is the creative force behind Kumite Classic Entertainment which oversees the region’s largest multi-sport event (The Pittsburgh Fitness Expo). His resume includes film producing, talent management, journalism, and mixed martial arts historian. He is a member of the Sport Karate Museum Hall of Fame and recipient of the Willie Stargell Pittsburgh MVP Award. His most recent work is the creation of the “Sensei Says” martial arts curriculum, which has had a direct positive impact on the North Huntingdon community implemented with “Norwin Ninjas.” Norwin Ninjas is the sister program of his families karate business (Allegheny Shotokan Karate) which his father, Bill Viola Sr., established in 1969. The Ninjas teach life skills, and mentor kids to become future black belts. Viola Jr. explains, “We build champions in life.” He is part of a growing Pittsburgh karate legacy that that includes all four of his sisters and his daughter, Gabriella Capri Viola, a Kindergartner at Stewartsville Elementary.
The award has garnered the attention of community leaders, as Viola Jr. has received congratulations from The United States Senate, as well as the Allegheny County Council who issued an official proclamation honored Viola Jr. for his achievement, and praising his, “passion, commitment, visibility, diversity and overall impact on the region.”
The ceremony was is presented by Dollar Bank and in association with BNY Mellon, Carlow University, Junior Achievement, UPMC Health Plan among others. The full list of 40 under 40 winners can be view at www.pittsburghmagazine.com