The Martial Arts Network was in San Jose, California to cover the 1997 STRIKEFORCE: World Martial Arts Championships. This annual ISKA-rated event was an outstanding success with impressive performances turned in by seasoned professionals and talented amateurs alike.

Celebrities in attendance for the event, held Saturday May 31st at the San Jose State University Arena, included Chuck Norris (whose Kick Drugs Out of America Foundation benefited from the proceeds of the event), Don "The Dragon" Wilson, Bob Wall, Bill "Superfoot" Wallace, Ernie Reyes Sr., Ernie Reyes Jr., Peter Cunningham, Don Frye, Kimo, Troy Dorsey, and many others.

In the amateur men's division, it was Travis Johnson over Jamie Comstock, Greg Kirkpatrick won by unanimous decision over Hank Doughton, and Dan Kelly defeated Michael Reginer. Local favorite Kimo Kekai was upset by Juan Escobar after walking into a roundhouse kick from Escobar which knocked the wind out of Kekai. Also, Casey Hazelwood, fighting out of Troy Dorsey's camp in Texas, beat Jason Benton in four tough rounds. In the some of the women's matches, Gail Webb won by decision over Jamie Baron and Jessica Nobles turned in a good performance by beating challenger Rachael Deheras.

The pros took the ring at 7 p.m. and the night was filled with surprises and upsets. The local team from Fairtex Muay Thai Training Camp dominated the evening with all of their entrants scoring impressive victories. Namesake Bunkerd Fairtex, fighting a lightweight championship bout, fought the only fight to end in a draw vs. Belgium boxer Bilam Nesrdine. In the super welterweight championship Muay Thai bout, Fairtex team leader Alex "F-14" Gong won a decisive victory over Fernando Yguardo. In the super-heavyweight division, Jean Claude Leuyer battled France's own Achille "The Black Panther" Roger in a hard-hitting match that delivered brutal blows to each fighter. Alex "The Blade" Khanbabian eliminated John Washington via TKO, and George Tsutsui was victorious over Danny "Hard as" Steele in a savage upset that shocked the crowd.

Other professional action included impressive wins by Wayne Jones and Eric Regan, and also the only women's bout between Chantal Menard, the reigning bantam weight world kickboxing champion and Vanesa Bellgrade. In this ten round match, these two ladies of the ring showed the crowd what it takes to be a world champ with the decision coming in Menard's favor after ten grueling rounds!

Some of the special events that were held during the bouts included a performance by Ernie Reyes' West Coast Action Team, a demonstration of NewSport Judo (whose rules make it more fast-paced and easier to follow than regular judo), and a 10 minute free-style "no-holds barred" fighting exhibition. A silent auction of various martial arts and other sports-related memorabilia was also held with proceeds going to KDOOA as well. All-in-all the night was an exciting, star-studded gala - filled with fierce competition by worthy opponents battling it out for the bragging rights of being the new ISKA world champs in their division. Stay tuned as TMAN prepares to cover The U.S. Open Martial Arts Championship - coming to you live, in July from Orlando, Florida!

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This page created and maintained by Ron Valli.
Last Update 7/26/97