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Viola Legacy

Ali Viola world champion

A Pittsburgh Legacy “Building Champions in Life”

Pittsburgh, PA — January 5th, 2015

Winning World Titles is nothing new for the Viola family, especially for Duquesne University law student Ali Viola.  Over the course of the past decade, she has become a 7x National Black Belt League (NBL) World Champion with international honors that have made her the most successful female karate fighter in Pittsburgh history. She has followed in the footsteps of her martial arts pioneer father and International Champion brother, Bill Viola Sr. and Jr.  Although she doesn’t have anything further to prove on the mat and wasn’t planning on competing in 2014 due to college commitments, it was a very special season for the family.

Photo Courtesy of Pittsburgh Tribune Review

The 2014 World Games marked a ceremonial passing of the torch, a karate tradition that has been a rooted in Pittsburgh for fifty years.  Ali Viola competed alongside her 4-year-old niece, Gabby Viola, the youngest competitor at the World Games and the next generation of Violas to represent Pittsburgh.

The 25th Annual Sport Karate World Games known internationally as the “Super Grands” was held 26th-31st in Buffalo, New York. The tournament is sanctioned by the National Black Belt League (NBL) and Sport Karate International (SKIL) which are responsible for the largest sport karate ranking system and league for black belts in the world. The competition is the equivalent of the Super Bowl for martial arts with over thousands of world class competitors representing North America, South America, Asia and Europe each year at the Games. The competitors must compete at a series of regional and national events to earn a seed and qualify for the competition, a process similar to NCAA tournaments that is required to secure an invitation.

Gabby’s Aunt [Ali] added two World Titles to her resume, one for Women’s Middle Weight sparring (defeating a contender from France in the semi-finals and then the number #1 ranked fighter from California, Ashlee Grant, in the finals); the second victory was a team title that included teammates Willie Hicks (Texas) and Luis Jimenez (Mexico).  Jimenez, a friend of Ali’s coach and brother Bill, also entered his son Joey Jimenez (the second youngest competitor at the World Games).

Gabby and Joey formed a unique bond that extended beyond the ring as they learned about family, respect and tradition.  Although neither Gabby nor Joey won the overall division (Gabby 4th and Joey 6th) they learned something much more valuable—the importance of carrying on a legacy!  Each walked away with an Amateur International Title and took the first step towards creating their place in martial arts history.

As Viola Sr. says, “Titles come and go, but a legacy is forever.”  The school’s motto is “Building Champions in Life.”  He prides his students on being community leaders and exceling in the education.  Ali Viola is a first year law student at Duquesne University and former Division-1 soccer star at Youngstown State.  She currently works at Eckert Seamans Law Firm and is an assistant coach for “Team Kumite” the all-star travel team founded by her brother.  She avidly supports the Western Pennsylvania Police Athletic League and also trains boxing at the Third Avenue Gym downtown Pittsburgh in her free time.

Gabby Viola is currently a yellow belt in the Norwin Ninjas program at Allegheny Shotokan Karate and is coached by her father (Bill Jr.) and instructed by her Aunt (Ali) and Grandfather (Bill Sr.) aka “Papa Sensei.”  For the past fifty years, the Viola name has been synonymous with martial arts excellence and Gabby is next in line to carry the tradition.  More importantly, she is learning how to build character through martial arts.  Viola Jr. adds, “Respect, discipline and focus are the cornerstones of karate and those traits will help you throughout your schooling, your job, and life.”

For generations, the Viola family has put Pittsburgh on the map in the world of martial arts.  Bill Viola Sr., the family patriarch, has been a pioneer of karate since the 1960s and is credited as the co-creator of the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) in 1979, a decade before the UFC was a household name. In 2011 The Western PA Sports Museum and Heinz History Center honored him with an exhibit documenting Pittsburgh as the birthplace of modern MMA. In all, Viola Sr. has five children [Bill Jr., Addie, Jacque, Ali, and Joce], all of whom have earned black belts and excelled in international competition.


Bill Viola Jr. has created the Mecca for martial arts in Pittsburgh, promoting the region’s largest and most prestigious competition known worldwide as the “Kumite Classic.” He’s an accomplished martial arts author and movie producer whose credits that include Tapped (2014) starring UFC Champions Lyoto Machida and Anderson “Spider” Silva.

About Allegheny Shotokan:  Bill Viola Sr. established Allegheny Shotokan Karate in 1969, and has since produced more World Champions than any other school in the Pittsburgh region.  The school has been representing Pennsylvania and the United States at the World Games dating back to the establishment of the league.  www.alleghenyshotokan.com

Other students from Allegheny Shotokan and Team Kumite who represented at the World Games were:

  • Sara Russell
  • Cameron Klos
  • Nick Kosan
  • Hope Chase
  • Bess Chase
  • Brigid Chase
  • Luke Lokay
  • Brady Johnson
  • Austin Hladek

Summer Smash Karate

summer smash karate

Team Kumite was proud to support the White Viper Summer Smash Karate Tournament in Pittsburgh.  The Chase sisters: Bridget Chase, Hope Chase, and Bess Chase are members of the school and team working hard towards winning an NBL Super Grands World Title.  Congrats to Billy Leader for winning the Summer Smash overall kata grand championships, Dominic Leader for winning the adult black belt sparring grand championship, and Rachael Bartuska for winning the advanced youth Grand Championship.  A great event and showing by the entire team and Allegheny Shotokan!

Peter Chase,Billy Leader and Bill Viola… Sensei Viola and Rachel Bartuska

World Champs

ali viola world champion

Pittsburgh was once again represented at the 23rd Sport Karate World Games aka the NBL National Black Belt League Super Grands by Allegheny Shotokan Karate and Team Kumite. Ali Viola claimed her 4th continuous sparring World Title and Championship in Buffalo New York over New Years. She defeated international competitors from Canada, Guatemala and Mexico in the finals. Team Captain Billy Leader defeated Andres Garcia of Guatemala (the reigning 6-time World Champion) in the Men’s Light Middleweight Continuous Sparring division en route to an appearance to the main stage for the finals. His brother Dominic also advanced to the finals to face Hugo Mendoza of Mexico. The team sent six black belts to the competition and all six placed top three in the World and earned NBL title belt. Coach Bill Viola was very proud of his team stating, “This year our team had to face allot of adversity and injury. Ali had bad hamstring injury and Bill could hardly walk let alone fight, but they found a way to persevere. Each year they bring respect back to Pittsburgh. I am also impressed with our Rookies at the Super Grands. The Chase sisters all earned a belt in their first World Games.”

Black Belt Roster @ the Super Grands:

Billy Leader

Ali Viola

Dominic Leader

Bridgit Chase

Hope Chase

Bess Chase

Also representing the team in the SKIL Sport Karate International Games were Liz Leaseburg and Cameron Klos who fought up in the NBL Continuous division with a 5-2 record against world class competition.

Inactive due to injury or sickness included:

Connor Burns: ACL

Joe Powell: Ribs

Raun Churchfield: Pneumonia

Ali Viola poses with her 2012 World Championship All-Star Gear Karate Gloves, and The Leader brothers Dominic and Billy pose with Ali after their big wins. Ali shows off the NBL 1st place belt and Coach Bill Viola Jr. Congratulates NBL Player of the Year Billy Leader

 

Ali Viola

Ali Viola

3x NBL National Black Belt League World Continuous Sparring Super Grands Champion Ali Viola represents Team Kumite based in Pittsburgh, PA.  The All-star karate team trains in North Huntingdon Irwin at Allegheny Shotokan Karate. She is  the only female NBL World Champion in Pittsburgh history and the #1 ranked fighter in Pittsburgh. She has been training in martial arts since she was 3 years old.  She currently leads the D-1 YSU Youngstown State girls soccer team as the goal keeper.

Ali Viola vs Colbey Northcutt.  Ali wins Survivor 2012 over Northcutt.  Great fight by both ladies.

 

Ali Alison Viola vs Colbey Northcutt.  Viola wins by 18

ali viola

Pittsburgh sport karate champion Ali Viola is a kumite classic team member and Norwin graduate. She is a state, national, international, and World Champion.

Royce Gracie

Royce Gracie Bill Viola Kumite Classic

UFC Legend Royce Gracie with Allegheny Shotokan Sensei Bill Viola Jr. @ the 2012 Kumite Classic at the Pittsburgh Monroeville Convention Center.

UFC Legend Royce Gracie with Rare Book school-delays.com Director Michael F. Allegheny Shotokan Sensei Bill Viola Jr. @ the 2012 Kumite Classic at the Pittsburgh Monroeville Convention Center.

Pittsburgh Karate Champions

dom leader billboard copy

Allegheny Shotokan is home to the only Pittsburgh Sport Karate World Champions.  Team Kumite, coached by Bill Viola,  is the only NBL World Champion’s in the Pittsburgh Region.  3x World Champion Ali Viola, 3x World Champion Terrence Tubio, World Champion Jose Rivera, and World Champion Dominic Leader.  The all-star team represents the Irwin / North Huntingdon area and the entire City of Pittsburgh at regional, national and international martial arts karate tournaments, championships and competitions.  You can see the team in action at the Kumite Classic held at the Monroeville Convention Center.

Kumite Classic 2012

team

Team Kumite & Allegheny Shotokan @ 2012 Kumite Classic:

 

Fitness and martial-arts enthusiasts pack Monroeville Convention Center for Kumite Classic

About The Tribune-Review

The Tribune-Review can be reached via e-mail or at 412-321-6460.

By Michael Love

Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 11:08 a.m.
Updated: Thursday, May 31, 2012

Brazil native Royce Gracie is an undisputed legend in the world of mixed martial arts.

Gracie, with his foundation in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, dominated the early years of the Ultimate Fighting Championships.

He won the first UFC tournament in 1993, and nearly 20 years later, the 45-year-old still has that fire for competition.

Gracie brought his knowledge and energy to Monroeville on Friday and worked with dozens of local athletes though a pair of seminars.

“Back then (in 1993) it was a style against a style,” Gracie said. “Today, it’s an athlete against an athlete. UFC and mixed martial arts has become a dream for kids, like wanting to someday be a hockey player or a football player. They get up and train in the martial arts.”

Pittsburgh is an area progressing in mixed martial arts, both in the production of local fighters and in the promotion of local events. Gracie said he sees that growth all over the world in his travels, from Europe to Africa to the Middle East.

Gracie said he trains, eats in a healthy way and teaches every day. Whether it’s making himself better or someone else better, the desire for the martial arts and MMA, he said, continues to burn.

The Gracie seminars kicked off a flurry of activity at the 13th annual Kumite Classic on Friday and Saturday at the Monroeville Convention Center.

Hundreds of athletes competed in numerous martial-arts competitions, while good physical fitness was celebrated through fitness and beauty pageants, bodybuilding competitions, weightlifting events and the annual Kurt Angle Teen Challenge fitness and strength event.

The Kumite Classic’s mission is to “promote healthy active lifestyles through a full-scale interactive consumer expo.”

The event catered to many fitness enthusiasts from Plum, Monroeville, all over western Pennsylvania and throughout the country.

The competitions and demonstrations went nonstop from Friday afternoon to Saturday eve- ning, and more than a dozen sports were featured.

“I think the uniqueness of the event is what makes it special,” Kumite Classic co-coordinator Bill Viola Sr. said. “It’s a celebration of physical fitness. All of the athletes come to this event because they can put their athletic abilities and talents on display. If someone came to see a karate event, they were able take a few steps over and watch a strongman or bodybuilding event. It’s great to be able to have all these great events under one large roof.”

The Kumite Classic honored and recognized Bill Neal, a Penn Hills native and Plum resident, Saturday afternoon for his work with youths of all ages in the East Suburbs and throughout the Pittsburgh region.

Neal, the founder of Pittsburgh-based Champions Enterprises, has dedicated his life to community service. Each year, the Pittsburgh MVP Awards are presented at the Willie Stargell Memorial Awards Banquet.

The ceremony honors community and business leaders, as well as amateur and professional athletes, who are making a difference in the lives of others.

“Bill has such a big heart,” Viola Sr. said.

“He constantly works with kids and for kids. He’s given his heart and soul to them. We’ve had a great relationship over the years. He helped us promote the first MMA competitions in 1979 and 1980. We’re so happy to be able to honor him because he has recognized and honored so many others.”

The Ultimate Teen Challenge on Saturday morning brought together male and female athletes ages 13 to 19 for a test of skill in a number of events, including a shuttle run, vertical jump, bench press, inverted pull up, dips, football toss, tire flip and kneeling power ball toss.

Awards and scholarships were presented, and each participant was placed in a raffle with a chance to win various types of fitness equipment.

Pittsburgh native, U.S. Olympian and world-famous professional wrestler Kurt Angle again was on hand to present the awards to the teen challenge winners.

“One out of every three teens in the U.S. is obese, and we’re trying to change that,” Angle said. “We want them to be more active. Not everyone has to join a sports team. You can go to a gym, go for a run or take a walk, as long as you have activity in your life. A healthy mind and a healthy body makes for a healthy soul.”

Sensei Viola

bill viola kumite classic

Allegheny Shotokan Sensei Bill Viola is recognized as a multiple USA Karate All-American Athlete, International Champion and World Champion coach of Team Kumite.  Official website www.williamviola.com

William “Bill” Viola III (born April 9, 1977) is an international martial arts champion, instructor, coach, fitness promoter and founder of Kumite Classic Entertainment Corp.

Bill Viola graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 1999 with a bachelor degree in Political Science. Immediately after graduation, he moved to Studio City, California and gained hands-on experience within the entertainment industry. He subsequently earned acceptance into the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) and American Federation of Television and Radio (AFTRA). The exposure afforded him the opportunity to meet and work with many of Hollywood’s top performers, celebrities, directors, and producers. He gained an astute knowledge of event production that influenced him to create his own production company, Kumite Classic Entertainment Corp. The company produces the annual Kumite Classic and launched the Fitness And Sports Tour (FAST Expo). Viola’s professional experience has earned him international recognition within the fitness industry. He has recruited and worked with amateur and professional athletes from across the world. Currently Viola is the head instructor at Allegheny Shotokan Karate in North Huntingdon / Irwin, PA. The school was established in 1969 by his father and is now home to Team Kumite, an all-star sport karate team that that has earned the only NBL world titles in the Pittsburgh region since its inception. Viola is available for seminars, workshops, and private lessons.

The Kumite Classic

The Kumite Classic is one of the most diverse martial arts and fitness expos in the United States. The annual show based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is typically held over Memorial Day Weekend. The event hosts a full scale consumer expo surrounded by multiple championships and competitions that run simultaneously including sports such as; sport karate, natural bodybuilding, power lifting, strongman, Olympic weight lifting, dance, cheer, arm wrestling, grappling, jiu-jitsu, physical fitness challenges etc. The event also hosts concerts, talent showcases, model pageants, bikini pageants, and fitness pageants. The high energy atmosphere has created a unique fan base of sports and fitness enthusiasts.

Viola partnered with former Mr. World Dave Hawk and Olympic Champion and Professional Wrestler Kurt Angle to host the Ultimate Teen Challenge in Pittsburgh, May 2005. The event has become an annual feature at the Kumite Classic.

On May 30th 2010 Bill Viola Sr. resurrected CV Productions Inc. and promoted “Caged Kumite,” a pro-am mixed martial arts show at the Kumite Classic. The event commemorated the thirty-year anniversary of mixed martial arts in Pittsburgh.

On May 28th 2011 Bill Viola partnered with former NFL Professional player Franco Harris to host The World Teen Football Combine. Jeannette High School standout Demetrious Cox, a former karate student of Viola, won the first annual competition.

Martial Arts:Bill Viola was introduced to the art of Shotokan Karate by his father William Viola, founder of Allegheny Shotokan Karate. His lessons began as early as 1978 when he was just a toddler. As a youth Viola was one of the most consistent and well rounded competitors in the country recognized as a USAKF Jr. Olympic champion and 1993 Overall Sport Karate International Champion. He went on to be the most successful sport karate champion in Pennsylvania Karate Rating Association history winning an unprecedented 8-consecutive black belt overall state titles (1992-1999). As an open and traditional competitor Viola excelled on multiple circuits including NBL, NASKA, AAU, and USAKF. He competed across North America as a member of X-Caliber and Metro All-Star national travel teams.

He was recognized as a multiple USA Karate All-American Athlete and National Champion. Viola was the only adult black belt triple gold medalist (Kata, -65 Kilo Kumite, Kobudo) at the 1997 USAKF National Championships in Akron, Ohio. In 1998 he was recognized by Arnold Schwarzenegger as a World Champion at The Arnold Classic, Columbus, Oh.


Stunt Work & Professional Shows

Viola has served as a stunt actor and choreographer including performances for Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies, US Steel, Police Athletic League, Eckert Seamans Law Firm, and the University of Pittsburgh. Over the years Viola has participated as a spokesperson for national campaigns including, Say No to Drugs, a tour took Viola coast to coast from Los Angeles to New York. -Pictured left, Bill Viola congratulated by Arnold Schwarzenegger for winning the Arnold Classic -1998

Brief Accomplishments:

Viola has won numerous national and international titles and was inducted into National Black Belt League Hall of Fame in 2003 (Houston, Texas). He was also inducted into the National Federation of Martial Arts Hall of Fame, Kumite International Hall of Fame, and the Pennsylvania Karate Rating Association Hall of Fame. In 2004 he was honored at The Sport Karate Living Legends Banquet with the Lifetime Achievement Award, Lynchburg, Va. Viola was recognized at the 35th Annual Willie Stargell Memorial banquet on December 16th 2010. He received the “Pittsburgh M.V.P.” award for his work within the fitness and Martial Arts industry.

Competition Retirement

In the summer of 1999, Viola was involved in an automobile accident on US Route 30 in North Huntingdon, PA. He sustained a serious cervical neck fracture injury that effectively ended his competitive karate career (1981-1999). –Tribune Review Westmoreland Sports August 15, 1999 page 6.

Journalism

In 2003 Viola established Kumite Quaterly Magazine, a martial arts publication distributed throughout North America. He also has served as a journalist for Sport Karate Magazine, covering international events in Canada, Mexico and the United States, as well as the NBL Supergrands World Championships.

Kumite International

Nancy Caliguri, Bruno, Curtis Smith, Bill Viola, George Anderson, CS Kim, Bill Viola, Frank Caliguri, Ann Marie Heilman, Bruce Heilman

In 2000, Viola partnered with the Western PA Police Athletic League and Eckert Seamans Lawfirm to establish Kumite International college scholarships for competitive martial artists. May 8th 2004 Viola and former NFL Professional Lynn Swann (Chairman, President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports: June 20, 2002 – July 30, 2005) honored scholarship recipients at the Kumite Classic. In 2002 Team Kumite was founded, and have earned the only NBL World Titles in the Pittsburgh region since its inception. NBL World Champion alumni include; Alison Viola, Terrence Tubio, Nicole Sullivan, Jose Rivera, and Dominic Leader. Kumite International was awarded the “Image Award” at the 2005 Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio. The ceremony was covered by Black Belt TV.

Fitness And Sports Training

In 1995 Viola began teaching sports endurance and cardio classes. In 2004 Viola expanded his personal training and established “Fitness And Sports Training” (The FAST Class). The conditioning and sports performance classes focused on improved speed, agility and strength for competitive sports teams in the Pittsburgh region.

Consulting

Viola has served as a consultant for martial arts documentaries and coordinator for International martial arts events across North America including the Mexican Open and the NBL Supergrands World Games; (Jacksonville, Florida / Houston, Texas / Myrtle Beach, South Carolina).

Viola has served as a talent judge and promo coordinator for Sony Pictures Entertainment. He acted as a consultant for the motion picture Warrior, a mixed martial arts movie filmed in Pittsburgh (released September, 2011 by Lionsgate). Viola teamed up with longtime associate Jim Cvetic (Western PA Police Athletic League) to help organize major scenes for the production.

Hollywood

Bill Viola (member of SAG/AFTRA) has made numerous television, film, and radio appearances on networks such as MTV, NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, UPN, WB, USA, Blackbelt TV and ESPN.

In 2000, Viola won Sisqo’s Shakedown, MTV’s most popular program at the time. Singer-choreographer Pink selected him as the most dynamic performer on the show. He has also made appearances in national commercials for companies such as 7-Eleven and built an impressive portfolio as a fashion and commercial print model, featured on MTV’s Hitched or Ditched (Big Bear, California) working along side Jennifer Lopez, Mandy Moore and Carson Daly.

Viola has worked as a freelance talent scout and entertainment entrepreneur. He has mentored top martial arts performers, helping them gain exposure within the entertainment industry. Viola helped launch the modeling career of Nick Bateman at the Model Universe competition in Miami, Florida. Bateman was discovered by fashion Icon Calvin Klein at the event.

Viola has extensive experience within the entertainment industry, working behind the scenes of major Hollywood productions. He has worked on location for big budget music videos sharing the set with musical artists such as the Def Tones, Britney Spears, and The Black Eyed Peas. The experience influenced the creation of The Kumite Classic concept.

Family

Bill Viola is married to Jennifer and have a daughter Gabriella Capri (8-17-10) Gabby is already practicing karate!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

-Philippians 4:13