NJ MMA

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The New Jersey Martial Arts Hall of Fame is extremely proud of its fourth class of inductees to the New Jersey Martial Arts Hall of Fame. This class will be honored at the fourth dinner gala to be held at the beautiful La Quinta Inns & Suites on December 4, 2015.

On December 4th, Ricco Rodriguez will be inducted for Pioneer MMA Fighter.

Ricco Rodriguez was born in San Jose, California, and it wasn’t long before his family relocated. He spent his elementary years in Jersey City Heights, before moving to Paterson, New Jersey. After moving from Paterson, Rodriguez attended Toms River Intermediate East. It was here that he first pursued wrestling. He prides the school’s program and Coach Corall for the success he later achieved. After spending his freshman year at Toms River North High School wrestling under Coach Curtis’ guidance, the family found themselves relocating once again. Ricco transferred to Tottenville High School in Staten Island and continued his wrestling career.

After graduating, Rodriguez recognized that his family did not have the money for him to attend college. With $150.00 and his love for the sport of wrestling, Ricco moved across the country to California to pursue his dream. Shortly thereafter, he secured a job at Gold’s gym, in Redondo Beach. It was there that a chance meeting with Erik Paulson (the first American Light-Heavyweight Shooto champion in Japan) that led Ricco to begin training in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with the Machado brothers.

In 1997, Ricco Rodriguez became one of the small group of Americans to win a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Championship, taking the Blue Belt Absolute title. He took gold in +99 kg in the first ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship in 1998, bronze in the Absolute (open weight) division in 1999 and Silver in the +99 kg category in 2000.

That same year Rodriguez began his MMA career with a win against Rocky Batastini. He won several of his first matches before losing to Bobby Hoffman at the Superbrawl 13 event in Hawaii. During this time, Ricco was asked to be a sparring partner for Mark Kerr who later assisted him in signing his first MMA contract with PRIDE Fighting Championship. In 2000, Rodriguez moved to Japan where he trained with Takada Dojo for Takada-San. With his new training partner, Kazushi Sakuraba, Ricco was 3-0 against Gary Goodridge, Giant Ochiai, and John Marsh in PRIDE Fighting Championship.

After moving back to the U.S., Rodriguez began training with Tito Ortiz and team punishment including Razor Rob McCullough, Tiki Ghosn, and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. It was their influences and training philosophy that prepared Rodriguez for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Rodriguez's first UFC match was at UFC 32 against former UFC Heavyweight Champion, and formerly #1 ranked pound for pound fighter in the world Andrei Arlovski. Rodriguez went on to win this fight by TKO in his home state of New Jersey at what is now known at the Izod Center.

Rodriguez went on to beat Pete Williams (UFC 34), Jeff Monson (UFC 35) and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (UFC 37) to earn a shot for the vacant heavyweight championship against future UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture at UFC 39 in 2002. Rodriguez once again found himself on the east coast as he went on to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship. In 2006, Rodriguez received his black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from Jean Jacques Machado.

In the last ten years, Rodriguez has won over 50 MMA fights, and continues to fight internationally. He feels incredibly grateful to be able to continue to do something he truly loves. Although his family did not have the money for him to receive a “formal” education, Rodriguez believes that NJ Wrestling programs provided him with a master’s degree by allowing him the opportunity to live and travel around the world, learn different languages and cultures, and ultimately introduced him to people who have become lifelong friends and mentors.

In recent years, Rodriguez has returned to New Jersey. He currently lives in Hoboken, where he spends each day doing what he loves- working as a coach/trainer. He maintains that none of his success would have been possible without the support of his best friend and guardian angel George Somers, as well as his MMA coach Saul Soliz who always believed he would be a UFC Heavyweight Champion.

We hope you will join us on December 4, 2015. Mark your calendars now and purchase your tickets early so you can be sure to be a part of New Jersey martial arts history. Call 201-538-4843 or visit www.njmmaawards.com and get your ticket and join us in a historic night for New Jersey and for martial arts. It is certain to be a terrific night with family, friends, fun, and music.

Here is the complete list of award winners:

Brian_Blue_Photo

The New Jersey Martial Arts Hall of Fame is extremely proud of its fourth class of inductees to the New Jersey Martial Arts Hall of Fame. This class will be honored at the fourth dinner gala to be held at the beautiful La Quinta Inns & Suites on December 4, 2015.

On December 4th, Brian Blue will be inducted for his Conditioning.

Brian Blue is the co-owner of All Star Sports Academy in Toms River, one of New Jerseys elite performance training facilities. Over the past 6 years,  he has become the go-to strength and conditioning to some of the best mixed martial artists in the area including Frankie Edgar,  Nick Catone,  Edson Barboza, Marlon Moraes, Corey Anderson, Chris Liguori, and Frankie Perez.  His training has helped these fighters become known for their strength, speed, power, and endless gas tank.  Brian was also a strength and conditioning coach for Rutgers Wrestling for 3 seasons and has contributed to the success of hundreds of high school and college athletes.

We hope you will join us on December 4, 2015. Mark your calendars now and purchase your tickets early so you can be sure to be a part of New Jersey martial arts history. Call 201-538-4843 or visit www.njmmaawards.com and get your ticket and join us in a historic night for New Jersey and for martial arts. It is certain to be a terrific night with family, friends, fun, and music.

Here is the complete list of award winners:

Kevin_Thompson_Picture_2

The New Jersey Martial Arts Hall of Fame is extremely proud of its fourth class of inductees to the New Jersey Martial Arts Hall of Fame. This class will be honored at the fourth dinner gala to be held at the beautiful La Quinta Inns & Suites on December 4, 2015.

On December 4th, Kevin Thompson will be inducted for his Kickboxing.

Kevin Thompson was born in Newark, NJ in 1961. He was raised in the heart and soul of the Ghetto or the “hood”. He has trained for over 40 years, first informally with his brother Mylo Thompson when he was five years old, then later when he turned 7 his formal training began. This was provided by Karriem Abdullah (Al-Mu-Assis) of the K.A. System. Kevin began teaching karate at the age of 10. He opened his first Dojo, the Shakil’s School of Martial Arts in 1981, in Newark, when he was only 19 years old.

During the 1980’s, Kevin was a member of the first ever professionally sponsored national karateteam “Budweiser National Karate Team”, which was coached by senseis Chuck Merriman and Skipper Ingram. He retired from the John Paul Mitchell National Karate team in 2012, where he held the position of team captain and competed in all three categories of competition, Kata,Weapons and Fighting. With his team, Kevin travelled around the world, exhibiting his system of Karate-Do’, He is humbly grateful for this opportunity.

Kevin was inducted into the U.S. Professional Karate Headquarters’ Hall of Fame in 1982 and the original Black Belt Hall of Fame in 1989. He shares this honor with such people as Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee.

During the course of his martial arts career, Kevin has won over 10,000 trophies, the majority of which are first place and grand championship awards. He has competed in and won at almost every major tournament in NYC and nationwide, and has travelled throughout the world competing, and giving seminars and performances on his martial arts concepts. Kevin’s face and form has even been displayed on the covers of many major magazines in the U.S. and Europe.

On the National and International circuits, they call him the “Total Package”, because he does it all! Kevin is the only male competitor to have won all three titles as Grand Champion in a nationally ranked tournament. This was accomplished through his defeating Nasty Anderson for the title in fighting, and Hosang Pak for the title in kata, and Mike Bernardo for the title in weapons at the Montreal Nationals in Canada. This previously unheard of feat, led him to receive the Triple Crown Winner Award from the Professional Karate League in 1989.

Kevin is a graduate of Newark Tech., and later Bloomfield College, where he earned his B.S. degree in Marketing. He has over 25 years of experience in education, where he worked primarily as a Crisis Intervention Specialist. Kevin completed his masters’ degree in Administration and Supervision in Secondary Education at Fordham University in New York City. Soon after receiving his masters’ degree, he took the Principal’s Examination to earn his Principal License for the N.J. Department of Education (2008). He later became a Vice Principal at Barringer High School, where he teamed his expertise and disciplinary skills, with other skilled education administrators, to help turn Barringer around, and produce the most improved school in the district.

We hope you will join us on December 4, 2015. Mark your calendars now and purchase your tickets early so you can be sure to be a part of New Jersey martial arts history. Call 201-538-4843 or visit www.njmmaawards.com and get your ticket and join us in a historic night for New Jersey and for martial arts. It is certain to be a terrific night with family, friends, fun, and music.

Here is the complete list of award winners:

Gary_Gudzak_photo

The New Jersey Martial Arts Hall of Fame is extremely proud of its fourth class of inductees to the New Jersey Martial Arts Hall of Fame. This class will be honored at the fourth dinner gala to be held at the beautiful La Quinta Inns & Suites on December 4, 2015.

On December 4th, Gary Gudzak will be inducted for his Inspector work.

My name is Gary Gudzak. I have been an Inspector for the New Jersey Athletic Board for 10+ years. I have been married to my wife, Lisa, for 22 years and we have three children. Haylee, 20, is a sophomore at Towson University and twins Cory and Cole, 14, are high school freshman. In addition to my position as an Inspector, I have been employed by the Ocean County Utility Authority for 27 years. Two years ago I became a Football Official and referee games for children at the youngest levels through high school varsity. Over the years, I have been a youth sports coach for several different sports teams my children have been a part of. Working with youth sports is a great passion of mine. My family and I reside in Forked River, New Jersey.

We hope you will join us on December 4, 2015. Mark your calendars now and purchase your tickets early so you can be sure to be a part of New Jersey martial arts history. Call 201-538-4843 or visit www.njmmaawards.com and get your ticket and join us in a historic night for New Jersey and for martial arts. It is certain to be a terrific night with family, friends, fun, and music.

Here is the complete list of award winners:

Sam_Photo_2

The New Jersey Martial Arts Hall of Fame is extremely proud of its fourth class of inductees to the New Jersey Martial Arts Hall of Fame. This class will be honored at the fourth dinner gala to be held at the beautiful La Quinta Inns & Suites on December 4, 2015.

On December 4th, Sam Marji will be inducted for his Amateur MMA Training.

Sam Marji is the highly-respected owner and head coach of Animals MMA in his hometown of Yonkers, NY, an impressive 10,000 square-foot facility, sporting ample mat space, a boxing ring, cage, and weight room.

His journey into mixed martial arts began in the winter of 2000, opening Animals MMA just six years later. He won the Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship as a brown belt in 2010, and received his black belt in 2011.

Diagnosed with cancer within a year of opening Animals, Sam's passion for MMA, and his mission to develop a “homegrown champion” never wavered, as he accepted and won his first MMA fight in 2008, less than a year after his diagnosis, sending a powerful message to his students, and to the mix martial arts community as well, about the character and commitment you can expect from anyone that trains at Animals MMA.

Sam continues to forge and corner fighters in some of the best organizations throughout the Tri-State Area, such as, Evolution, Reality Fighting, Ring of Combat, WCKC, and Dead Serious.

Animals MMA holds belts in several weight classes, and currently sports an impressive 90 percent win record, with a number of fighters making their pro-debut this year.

Sam enjoys an incredible amount of support from wife, Amanda, and his two children, son Sam Jr., 16, and daughter, Savanna, 14, in his love of MMA. Sam Jr. and Savanna have been training since they each turned 4 years old, and continue to train and compete over a decade later.

Animals MMA looks forward to continuing being a positive part of the mixed martial arts community.

We hope you will join us on December 4, 2015. Mark your calendars now and purchase your tickets early so you can be sure to be a part of New Jersey martial arts history. Call 201-538-4843 or visit www.njmmaawards.com and get your ticket and join us in a historic night for New Jersey and for martial arts. It is certain to be a terrific night with family, friends, fun, and music.

Here is the complete list of award winners:

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Trinity Kickboxing Championship V takes place on Staurday November 14, 2015 at Gamechanger World in Howell, New Jersey. The promotion is run by John Narleski, a former professional kickboxer with a reputation for putting on some of the best kickboxing matches on the planet.

For ticket info, check out their website at www.trinitykickboxing.com. And check out their Facebook page as well. Pro Glory Rules in effect!

 

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The New Jersey Martial Arts Hall of Fame is extremely proud of its fourth class of inductees to the New Jersey Martial Arts Hall of Fame. This class will be honored at the fourth dinner gala to be held at the beautiful La Quinta Inns & Suites on December 4, 2015.

On December 4th, Frank Savannah will be inducted for his Boxing.

As a little boy I always felt small, scared and weak. So I wanted to grow up being a tough guy. The kind of guy that the old Jack Lalanne comics produced, showing the weakling getting sand kicked in his face in front of his girlfriend. Eventually growing muscular and knocking the bully out.

I loved superheroes and watched and played with them all the time. Always beating up the bad guy. That's what I wanted to be.

I remember vividly the comic where superman and Muhammad Ali were in the ring together and I thought of Ali as just the kind of guy who could whoop superman, so I wanted to be like him. Although it would be many years before I found a boxing gym that I would call home. The Brick PAL, in a converted chicken coop, behind R&R BBQ, that's where it started.

I started boxing at the age of thirteen although I had already spent countless hours, without instruction, pounding a bag I had in my basement. In my head I had a whole top 15 ranked fighters, all of them with names and different fighting physical attributes. I’d fight them all with the grace and poise of Ali and the brute toughness of Rocky Balboa. I always engaged in brutal fights in my mind and always managed to win by some dramatic finish, just like I had seen countless fighters do on TV.

I went on to win four NJ golden gloves titles, 3 Diamond gloves titles, three national PAL titles, two northeast regional titles, and the 1991 national golden gloves title. As a nationally ranked fighter I thought about sticking around for a shot at the 92 Olympics but decided I wanted to just turn pro, win a title and earn a ton of money.

I turned pro with Lou Duva as my manager and backed by top rank promotions. I won my first 15 fights before losing a shot at a minor title. After that, strangely enough, I just didn't want to do it any longer. I was ranked #12 in the world but my desire to continue fighting had left. I had one more fight, a draw, and I simply woke up the next day, looked at my beat up face in the mirror and just didn't want to do it any longer.

After 13 years of being a husband to the love of my life, Lara, and raising five children I received a call asking to help UFC fighter Nick Catone with his hands and it was like a light went on in my head. I couldn't wait to do it and I'm proud to say that not only did Nick become excellent with his hands and boxing, more importantly, we became great friends. I also got to work with fellow inductee Tom DeBlass, helping him with his hands for his last fight, a first round KO, and another great friendship was forged.

I've also worked with MMA veteran Jay Coleman and up and coming fighters, Ricky Bandejas, Corey Menafra, Cody Mooney, as well as many others. I can't wait to see what the future holds.

And I cannot forget to mention my lord and savior, Jesus, who has had his hand on my life all along, shaping me,  even through a couple of dark years when I was transitioning from prize fighter to blue collar civilian. Thank you Lord!

We hope you will join us on December 4, 2015. Mark your calendars now and purchase your tickets early so you can be sure to be a part of New Jersey martial arts history. Call 201-538-4843 or visit www.njmmaawards.com and get your ticket and join us in a historic night for New Jersey and for martial arts. It is certain to be a terrific night with family, friends, fun, and music.

Here is the complete list of award winners:

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Asylum Fight League 49 took place on Saturday, November 7, 2015 at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Here are the official results of all the night's bouts.

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The New Jersey Martial Arts Hall of Fame is extremely proud of its fourth class of inductees to the New Jersey Martial Arts Hall of Fame. This class will be honored at the fourth dinner gala to be held at the beautiful La Quinta Inns & Suites on December 4, 2015.

On December 4th, Paul Querido will be inducted as Trainer / Cutman.

Paul began his martial arts training in 1988, one week after his 16th birthday to be exact. It all started as a way to participate in something that wasn't a "team sport." It was very clear, just two years later: it had turned into a full time pursuit of training and learning of the martial arts. 25 years later there's as much, if not more, drive and passion for the martial arts. Why? Simple. Because to this day, he's still an active student and instructor of the arts, but: more importantly, the calling to professional Cutman, was heard and added to the list of accolades.

The timeline tells it all. Just weeks after graduating high school, Paul was working full time for Tiger Schulmann's in Middletown, NJ. Starting off as a day manager and earning a position of assistant instructor. Very at home on the mat day one. The training was intense. Hard core sparring - no time limits - no weight classes, just round after round with some of the organizations toughest instructors.

Although it was developing both mental and physical growth, it wasn't without repercussions. Early 20's ready to prove, and not fully understanding the importance of rest and/or down time between sparring sessions, numerous concussions were suffered. Finally at the 7th, or 8th, the doctors gave the orders: Contact to the head could not happen again: Ever. Competition out? He his way into the coaching part of the competitions. Starting as a simple assistant to Tiger and Ron Schulmann, quickly growing in responsibility. It didn't take long to begin learning Cutman duties and to wrap hands. The travel and wrapping for amateur boxing, professional kickboxing and MMA introduced an entirely new view of combative sports. Four years ago call came: Bellator, Taj Mahal, in Atlantic City: to help wrap the undercard fighters for that night's event. Christmas morning type of excitement and so it began...

The new "local" arrived. Just a Cutman wrapping every fighter assisgned like they were stepping into the cage for the World Championships. Backstage with the best fighters from all over the world. Lights, cameras: Action! Totally oblivious to it all because only one question needed an answer: "Matt, can I stick around and shadow you for the night?" Yes. Answer that was very much wanted! Paul reflects fondly at how calm Matt Marsden and Dean Lassiter were, while watching their corners like hawks-everything prepared, mentally and physically - ready to jump into that cage at a moment's notice.

After all: One more round to their fighter is: Everything. Said he promised himself that he would just be a fly on the wall that night, but while reflecting totally admits the questions that night were shot out at Matt and Dean, rapid fire style. That was the bite. Got Hooked. Wanting to know everything about being a Cutman. Read everything he could about handling cuts, contusions, bloody noses. He followed up on all the rules and regulations of what and was not allowed by the NJSAC. He began asking Nick Lembo questions at all of the local events. While watching fights on TV he no longer really watched or paid attention to the coaches in the ring or cage he focused on the Cutmen. "Gone in 60 seconds" the unsung professionals that never wanted or needed any lime light, it wasn't about them, it was all about the fighter. A philosophy lived daily.

After being asked to help with two or three more shows that Bellator had when they came to either NJ, PA or CT and still hungry for more, approached the CFFC. The Cage Fury Fighting Championships, who were, and still are, growing by leaps and bounds. He just wanted to work to keep improving his skills to keep learning. He fell in nicely with this promotion and to this date he still the head Cutman. It was a few years after working part time for Bellator that he was asked to be part of their largest event (at the time) - their pay per view in Memphis, Tennessee. The love of being part of the greatest organization, the love of being on the road with awesome people and so, with the help love, and support of family and friends.

He followed his dream. Now a full time member of the Bellator crew. One of 4 Cutmen used at every show and loving every minute of it. In between traveling with Bellator and the local shows of the CFFC he brings back all the knowledge he takes from these great coaches and fighters, from Matt and Dean the best Cutmen out there-to his students on a weekly basis. Paul has proven you do not just have to be a fighter to be successful in any combative sport. You just have to listen to yourself, and follow your heart. I am extremely thankful to all those who attend, to share this honor and this night with me.

We hope you will join us on December 4, 2015. Mark your calendars now and purchase your tickets early so you can be sure to be a part of New Jersey martial arts history. Call 201-538-4843 or visit www.njmmaawards.com and get your ticket and join us in a historic night for New Jersey and for martial arts. It is certain to be a terrific night with family, friends, fun, and music.

Here is the complete list of award winners:

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