When Jeff Bonugli came to me in 1974, he was nineteen, fresh out of Canyon High School in New Braunfels, Texas. That took some guts in those days, as he was a White boy coming into what was at the time the rough area of town, into a dojo peopled by some as rough characters. Anyone who could fight in New Braunfels trained in my dojo. In the previous decade, New Braunfels had put out two Heavyweight Texas Golden Gloves champs, Robert Mesa and Cheche Rios. Jeff was very aggressive, and from the beginning was always in the winner’s circle. In between tournaments, he would lead others of my students to make fighting rounds to other schools in the San Antonio area. He, along with others of my future Black Belts took on jobs as bouncers in a local night club, where they could put their skills to work. Even as a Brown Belt, Jeff was entering and winning in the Black Belt Division, but in my mind, one of Jeff’s greatest fights, point or full contact, was at George Minschew’s Karate Olympics in Houston, around 1976. The fight was for the championship of the Heavyweight Green Belt Division, and Jeff was pitted against a powerful, and raw boned, Dino Holmsley out of Beaumont. With Dino as an opponent, Jeff was more than well matched. When I see the up and coming Ryan Spann, fighting in JC Productions “Best of the Best” mixed martial arts event, February 1, 2014, in Harlingen, I am reminded of Dino Holmsley. Ryan is the same kind of powerful fighter. My high estimation of Dino was not only in his versatility of technique, because he had that aplenty, but rather because he was also a skilled street fighter, and without question, very tough. In one of the hardest fought fights of the night Jeff came out on top, and in so doing, cinched my estimation of Jeff’s abilities. Dino was also a bouncer, and while in the performance of that duty, was killed breaking up a bar fight in a Houston nightclub. Dino Holmsley was as tough as they come. Nothing but respect for a true warrior to the end. Jeff applied his aggressiveness to business, eventually becoming General Manager of the largest car dealership in San Antonio, currently a partner of a large dealership in the Valley, and now JC Productions. His search for fighters willing to fight for $50,000 dollar contracts is a true fact. Jeff Bonugli, always a warrior, has shown all along that he truly cares for his fighters. The time of reckoning has arrived and, as any warrior, he plans to go down fighting.
A New and rejuvenated Ricky “El Gallero” Palacios is making his comeback in Beaumont Texas at the Montagne Events Center, with Jeff Bonugli’s JC Productions “Texas Pride” MMA event on Saturday, September 28. Comeback? Yes, following some tough times in his life, some of them self made, what follows now is a comeback. He’ll be fighting a very tough Jose Ceja who is currently 1-0 as a pro MMA fighter and 1-0 as a pro boxer, which will make for a very interesting fight, considering that El Gallero favors stand up, and boxing in particular. While I am personally a friend to both of these boys, the odds stand in Ricky’s favor, but by no means should he be complacent. Jose will come to fight, and he comes undeterred by the stats, which show Ricky 6-0 as an amateur, 2-0 as a pro, and 1-0 as a boxer, all fights won by KO. In Jose’s favor is the fact that he can box. I’m partial to either of these boys. Expect a slug fest. I would be very surprised if either of these boys take the fight to the mat.
One of his tattoos bore the legend “Mi Vida Loca,” (my crazy life) and it was an apt description of the tragic life of one of the greatest fighters ever to enter the ring, John Lee “Johnny” Tapia, five-time boxing world champion from Albuquerque, New Mexico. His father was in the state penitentiary while his mother was pregnant with him. His mother was stabbed to death when he was eight. Johnny remembered a truck passing by the house where he lived, with his mother in the back, wrapped in chains, and screaming for help. He saw, and he heard, but was not believed by the adults he frantically appealed to. There was the horror and helplessness of an eight year old, pleading for help for the one person he cared most for, his mother, and he was not believed. She was raped, hanged, and stabbed repeatedly with a screw driver. Police found her later on the side of the road, to which she had crawled, traversing over a hundred yards to get there. She lapsed into a coma, from which she never regained consciousness.
Not surprisingly, he was fueled by an inner rage which he carried into the ring. The effects of his mother’s brutal killing followed him to the end of his days. His uncles put that rage to work immediately after his mother’s death. At the age of nine, they’d match him up against bigger boys and bet on him. If he lost, they beat him. It was then that Johnny began picking up pugilistic skills from his grandfather, Miguel, an amateur boxing champion. He eventually turned to Golden Gloves boxing, and to an outstanding amateur career, becoming the National Golden Gloves National Golden Gloves Light Flyweight Champion in 1983, and the 1985 National Golden Gloves Flyweight Champion.
Moxey? Johnny had moxey to spare. He was utterly fearless in the ring, brassy in each and every fight. Smack talk? Johnny didn’t need to talk it, he personified it. With such an attitude, and an inclination to drug use, as well as rumors of past connection to a gang, it was no surprise that he would draw the attention of law enforcement. Albuquerque cops hounded him, and he saw jail time for drug possession. After winning his first 22 professional fights, he tested positive for cocaine in 1990, and was suspended from boxing for three and a half years.
Outside the ring, his problems were legion. Safety for Johnny Tapia, and an escape from the demons which incessantly pursued him, was to be found only inside the ring, where, as he saw it, he was untouchable! Inside the ring he was king. Inside the ring , he was brassy, and pure genius. He was utterly fearless, and in virtually every fight, he demonstrated his mastery of the sweet science. For the observant student of fighting and ring warfare, there is much to be gained by viewing his fights. If one enjoys watching a warrior do what he does best, ya gotta love Johnny Tapia!
Have I described him as brassy? He took that brass into the ring, and fought for the sheer love of fighting! Turbulent though his life may have been on the outside, in the ring Johnny was in complete control; in control of the fight, and of himself. Even in the rare instances when he was losing, one finds himself in deep admiration of Johnny Tapia’s ability to keep his cool. The smile. The smile appeared more often when he was in trouble, than when not. Here was a ring general if ever there was one! Machine gun like punches; beautiful hooks, uppercuts and crosses; pause, dance back, and bounce off the ropes; smile, bob, weave, evade, and boom! Repeat the process! No less a fighter than Mike Tyson called him one of the greatest boxers who ever lived.
One of his finest matches was one he lost, after a 46 fight winning streak, when he faced Paulie Ayala, the youngest of the fighting Ayala brothers of San Antonio, Texas. It was a war from fight to finish, and it began with a pre fight shove, Tapia to Ayala. Brassy, I called him? Was there ever any fighter with more brass than Johnny Tapia? He took that brass into the ring to face an equally talented warrior in the person of the southpaw, Paulie Ayala. He lost this fight, breaking his 46 fight winning streak, but it is a classic, because we get to see Tapia fighting an equally gifted fighter, and a southpaw at that.
How does a champion and consummate warrior deal with adversity in the ring? How does one counter a gifted southpaw? How does one keep his wits when being out fought? How does one regain the initiative? That, and much more, is in this fight, and though the fight began with a shove, his sportsmanship at the conclusion of the fight is rarely paralleled. Brassy he may have been, but in the ring, at the conclusion of a fight, Johnny Tapia was also a genuine class act.
Johnny Tapia, a survivor of five drug over doses, finally passed from this life on May 27, 2012. His wife, (and manager) Teresa, had earlier remarked, “I don’t know how this story is going to end. I’d love to think that in 30 years we’ll be old together and surrounded by family. But when I ask Johnny how he sees himself in the future, he says he’s not even sure he’ll wake up tomorrow.” Johnny Tapia was 45 at the time of his death. His funeral was attended by thousands who came to view his casket, situated in the middle of a boxing ring, an appropriate setting for a man who had lived to fight, winning world titles at 115, 118, and 126 pounds over the course of 23 years.
Johnny Tapia was freed at last from his struggles with bipolar disorder, and his lifelong battle with cocaine addiction and alcoholism. The revolving door which conducted him to jail and drug rehabilitation programs had closed at last.
One is, and ought be, reluctant to judge the life of John Lee Tapia. His childhood experiences were horrific, especially so at a time when a boy is most attached to his mother. He was not spared the awful agony of seeing with his own eyes her terrible plight, and hearing with his own ears her piteous cries for help. He saw, and heard, and was left alone. His birth father did not appear until the last years of Johnny’s life. John accepted him and forgave him. Just like that.
For all his trials, and his numerous mistakes notwithstanding, Johnny Tapia loved people, and people loved him. His fight against Paulie Ayala began with a push, but ended with an embrace and heartfelt congratulations to Ayala for defeating him. He’d lost, he admitted with a shrug of his shoulders. So what? Life goes on. And immediately after that fight, a contentious reporter tried to draw out of Johnny words critical of the decision. Johnny refused to take the bait. He said simply, “the best man won.”
A loving and merciful God will take into account the grief of a little boy grown into a man. He will look at the slips and the flaws, some of them grievous, but in His tender mercies will give an abnormal amount of credit to Johnny’s good deeds, exacerbating the good in Johnny’s behalf. He will be mindful of Johnny’s love for his wife Teresa, who never abandoned him. Of her he remarked, “the wife that I have is unbelievable, she loved me when I was nothing, and she still loves me now that I am nothing.” Their love for each other will count for much in the Lord’s eyes. And He will be mindful of Johnny’s ability to be a much, much, better father than the one he never had. He will also take into account the many simple and unassuming people who loved Johnny, because in their eyes he was a good man. Indeed, the Lord’s tender mercies will be much evident in behalf of John Lee Tapia, whose earthly travails are no more.
PRESS RELEASE: Las Vegas, NV (July 24, 2013) – The MMA boom is underway in Texas as Rocktagon MMA Worldwide brings premium fight events to the Lone Star State. Rocktagon MMA is set to make its debut in Texas on Friday, July 26 with an ALL-Pro MMA card stacked with elite talent. The event, ‘Rocktagon 28 Journey of Champions –El Paso’ will take place at Buchanan’s Event Center in El Paso, Texas.
Rocktagon MMA has held a total of 27 events to date in cities on both coasts, primarily in Ohio and California. They are very excited to add Texas to the line-up and plan to make a positive impact when it comes to live MMA events in the state. The popular promotion hopes to reignite the MMA scene in the El Paso area by delivering consistent, high-quality MMA events that feature elite pro fighters from all over the globe.
According to James Jeda, CEO of Rocktagon MMA Worldwide, “We are very excited to bring premium MMA events to the great state of Texas. Between Ohio, California and Texas, Rocktagon will continue to infuse cities from coast to coast with top-level professional MMA events.”
‘Rocktagon 28 Journey of Champions –El Paso’ will feature a stacked ALL – Pro MMA fight card headlined by Billy “The Puerto Rican Assassin” Colon and Martin Sano Jr. The clichéd mantra, “don’t blink,” is certainly relevant considering both fighters have a 100-percent finish rate.
Colon, a submission specialist and seasoned MMA veteran, has competed all over the United States. Colon feels his significant experience in the cage will rein superior against his opponent in the Rocktagon arena. He plans to prove it by finishing Sano impressively and early on, but knows it will not be an easy feat.
At just 22-years-old, Sano exudes the kind of confidence one expects in a future champion. He is a highly touted prospect with an unblemished record, yet this will be his first fight on the big stage against a savvy veteran like Colon. It will also be his first venture from welterweight to middleweight.
Will Sano find success in the middleweight division or suffer his first defeat? Fans will find out on Friday night when both fighters lay it all on the line in the Rocktagon cage. It is a fight that will keep fans on the edge of their seat from the moment the cage door closes and the co-main event is expected to be just as exciting!
In the co-main event heavy-handed slugger Patrick “Skar” Dixon will face Fort Bliss Combatives team member Anthony Stevens. While some fighters rely on point scoring, Dixon tends to take the road less traveled, which typically consists of throwing haymakers and leaving opponents curled up in the fetal position.
Stevens, on the other hand, is a more technical fighter and consistently pushes forward. He has a smooth boxing style and is known for delivering exciting performances with wild, impressive exchanges. The contrasting styles of these dynamic fighters make for a very compelling match-up!
The Rocktagon 28 card is jam-packed with well-matched professional bouts and high-octane fights that fans want to see! The full fight card is listed below.
*’Rocktagon 28 Journey of Champions –El Paso’ Full line-up:
Billy Colon vs. Martin Sano Jr.
Patrick Dixon vs. Anthony Stevens
Rodrigo Sotello Jr. vs. Joseph Torrez
Alida Gray vs. Jessica Kennett
Jazmin Quezada vs. Stacey Sigala
David Ruelaz vs. Adam McGurk
Brian Castillo vs. Matthew Hunt
Julio Hinojosa vs. Ibrahim “Lion Heart” Eid
Jesus Urbina vs. Alan Lerma
Randy McCarty vs. Derek Perkins
*Card subject to change
Rocktagon 28 “Journey of Champions” takes place on July 26 at Buchanan’s Event Center, located at 11540 Pellicano Dr. in El Paso, Texas. Tickets starting at $30 are available online at www.RocktagonWorldwide.com. Limited VIP tables are also available by calling 440-934-4MMA.
About Rocktagon MMA:
Rocktagon MMA is the mixed martial arts division of Rocktagon Worldwide, a sports and music entertainment company. Founded in mid-2010, Rocktagon MMA has successfully completed 27 events on two coasts and is the only promotion able to offer four types of shows to meet the needs of various markets: all Amateur, all Professional, Pro-Am, and Rock-n-Rage. Rock-n-Rages are premium events combining the cage of mixed martial arts with a stage featuring live musical performances by well-known artists. All Rocktagon MMA events are streamed live globally via the Rocktagon Sports & Music Network and filmed to air on multiple networks throughout North America, including Comcast, Comcast SportsNet and the Fight Network. For more information, please visit www.Rocktagonworldwide.com
I like Matt Mooney, I like his intensity. I even wrote an article about him. But I was a bit disturbed about him calling out Leroy Martinez. When I suggested he ought wait a bit before taking on Leroy, he countered with, “Do you think I can’t take him?” Well, I’d crossed a line, it seemed. What do I know?
Learn something, if you will, from an old fellow who has been around the block a few times. In fighting, there is conditioning, and there is mastery of technique. There is also the battle of the will and the psyche, which play a tremendous part of any contest. We’ll address the latter.
We had in the March “Pride of the Valley” event, the grudge match between Rick Palacios and Leroy Martinez, which engaged both camps. Matt Mooney was training with Rick Palacios. Ricky won the event, via a second round knockout of Leroy, after some pretty exciting exchanges, to say nothing of a hard first round for Rick as he struggled to escape Leroy’s ground game. The fight was over, Rick Palacios had won.
Now Matt Mooney calls out Leroy Martinez. Not good. There is the experience factor. Matt is 1-0 as a pro. Leroy has got some wins and some losses, but win or lose, it amounts to experience, lots more than Matt has. “Wait,” I hinted to Matt. But the fight was set, to take place during the second of J C Promotion’s “Pride of the Valley” event.
More trash talk. Matt is going to break Leroy’s arm. (And he would have, if he could have set it up.) I used to train cops and often gave the following advice: “Don’t put a man in a corner where the only way out is through you.” For instance, don’t embarrass a man in front of his wife, girl friend, or children, if you can possibly avoid it. You will get more than you bargained for. Some men will die rather than be humiliated in front of their woman.
Matt put Leroy in the corner I’m talking about. Leroy had just lost to Rick Palacios, and now Rick’s understudy, with a 1-0 record, was going to whip him too? Think about that a bit. You can suppose that Leroy’s psyche upped somewhat on that note. He couldn’t wait to get into the ring with Matt. The moral imperative was on his side. Spectator empathy was behind him, as would be demonstrated on fight night by calls in unison of, “Leroy! Leroy! Leroy!” Matt would have had to break his arm to submit him, as he had threatened to do.
Come the evening of the fight, Matt wanted the fight to come to him, on the canvas. Leroy did not oblige, but rather made it a stand up game which he dominated. He did not oblige until the last couple of minutes in the third round, when the war of wills was in his favor. Then he descended to the canvas with a vengeance.
Matt has tremendous potential. He’s tough. He’ll be OK. He’s learning, and this is one of those times when much is to be learned from a loss. When experience is a factor, it may be best not to threaten up; that is from the position of little experience to a position of much more experience. In a sense it amounts to telegraphing a punch. And, my advice to cops is good advice anywhere: “Don’t put a man in a corner, where his only way out is through you.”
PRESS RELEASE – May 13, 2013
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – MMADraft.com, a promotional platform for up-and-coming amateur combat sports athletes, has quickly become the go-to site for many of MMA’s rising stars. With the ever growing talent pool, it is becoming increasingly difficult for skilled amateur MMA fighters to identify what steps they need to take to build a successful future in the sport. Not only do they have to stand out amongst their peers as elite competitors, they have to build a presence outside of the cage as well. MMA Draft offers solutions and gives amateurs in the sport an edge on the competition.
Backed by industry influencers and fighters Urijah Faber and Phil Davis, MMADraft.com gives amateurs access to valuable resources that no other organization can offer, from media opportunities to advice from the pros. MMA Draft continues to add valuable features to the site as they evolve and according to the MMA Draft team, they are just getting started!
According to Phil Davis, “We are very excited about how quickly MMA Draft has evolved and how well it has been received in the MMA Community. MMA Draft has come a long way in a short time and we continue to find new ways to educate and promote deserving amateur athletes. The newest feature on MMADraft.com is a weekly blog called ‘The Draft Board’, authored by seasoned MMA Journalist Daniel Downes (who also writes for UFC.com). ‘The Draft Board’ touches on all subjects that pertain to Amateur MMA.”
Davis went on to say, “Daniel is also one of the experts on our MMA Draft ‘Ask a Pro’ panel (another added feature). Anyone can log on to MMADraft.com and submit a question pertaining to amateur MMA under ‘Ask a Pro’ and one of our experts will address it. Maggie Krol and Rick Lee have also joined our team and will be shooting human interest pieces and amateur MMA stories for the site. A lot of exciting things are happening at MMA Draft. We have a really big announcement coming soon, so stay tuned!”
In addition to providing great resources to amateur martial artists, the MMA Draft team actively generates publicity for their athletes through shows like ‘MMA Draft Spotlight with Trigg’, ‘The Great Debate’ Radio Show, Alchemist Radio, and many others. Registered MMA Draft athletes of all ages have the opportunity to earn their place in the spotlight. The more activity that they have on their MMA Draft profile, the more likely they are to get chosen.
Amateur martial artists of all ages and skill levels are encouraged to create a profile on www.MMADraft.com. The site is FREE to join and participating amateur athletes can upload photos and videos, document notable career achievements and more! The MMA Draft database also stores event results from Pankration, Submission Grappling, Wrestling and other sports that may lead to a career in martial arts.
About MMA Draft:
MMA Draft (www.MMADraft.com) was created for martial artists by martial artists to generate opportunities and exposure for combat sports athletes at the amateur level. It is the most comprehensive “Amateur” promotional platform of its kind and was formed by Urijah Faber and Phil Davis, accomplished MMA pros that know exactly what it takes to make it in the competitive world of mixed martial arts. MMADraft.com provides amateur fighters with a high-profile platform to showcase their skills, interactive forums to build a fan following, tips from industry pros and other valuable career resources. MMADraft.com is also a go-to source for managers, sponsors and promoters looking for talent. Additionally, MMADraft.com offers a variety of resources to parents, prospects, and fans of amateur combat sports. Resources include educational information, event info and more! MMA Draft executives are also working closely with key promotions, organizations and websites to become a central database for amateur events, seminars and results.