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.
Very inspiring interview, Vanessa Rojas out of OHANA WARRIOR MUAY THAI in Richardson,TX will be the only fighter representing the State of Texas come Februay 23rd in Miami,Florida, S1-Challenge.com . Read on and wish her well. MAHALO!
sPidA:Your have a bout for S1 Challenge in Miami,Florida coming up,how has your training been going thus far?
Rojas: Training is very different now 🙂 My husband Alvaro (also an Instructor at OHANA and a fighter but from Team Toro in Chicago) has been putting in a lot of work with me. I say different because its obviously someone else training me now, I haven’t fought in almost 4 years, I am training hard for the first time in 4 years with an old knee injury, and for these last 4 years I have been a VEGETARIAN. So now my cards have changed… NEW GYM, NEW DIET, NEW GAME PLAN. I think there will be a few unexpected things coming from me when I get in the ring and dance 🙂
sPidA: Being a mother,wife and instructor,would you say you are great at multi tasking?
Rojas: Oh man if only I was just those 2 things hahaha! My mini me’s are all of different age stages… Between being a wife, instructing at the gym, training, bartending at nights on the weekend, My daughter who is now 13, “THE TEENAGER”… My oldest Son who is now 8, THE “ANTAGONIZER”, and My youngest son who is now 2,”THE TERRORIST TODDLER” (yes they get fighter names ha) keep me pretty damn “ENTERTAINED” with also being a personal cab driver, alarm clock, referee, police officer, a judge, clean up service, nurse, bank, and my favorite a hugs and kisses booth! Thanks be the LORD my husband is the CHEF and MECHANIC! So I don’t want to say I am a GREAT multi-tasker but I will say that I always try my hardest to be.
sPidA: With Muay Thai only happening in the amateur circuits here, would you say a Pro organization is way overdue here in Texas?
Rojas: OH DEFINITELY ! I say this because with all the rules the amateur fighters have to abide by to prepare for these fights, they may as well be considered PRO! From the blood work, to fighting with no head gear? WHY NOT!!m
sPidA: What is a training week consist of for you,bag work,conditioning etc..?
Rojas: Well besides the usual warm ups of jump rope and shadow boxing… My husband usually asks me to start with 9+ 3min30sec rounds of Everything, Hands, kicks, knees, elbows. Then we do 6 or more of 5min30sec rounds of Pad Work/Technique… ending in Plyometrics, Core, Rehab conditioning of my knee, TEARS and sometimes ICE BATHS… good times 🙂
sPidA: With Mixed Martial Arts having gone main stream,do you think there is room for Muay Thai events to start coming out on TV here in the States as well?
Rojas: Well if they can put SUMO on television channels in HAWAII and California… One can only dream that they can make a little room for MUAY THAI! I believe Muay Thai has much bigger following around the WORLD than Sumu does!
sPidA: You have had over 10 bouts in both ammy and Pro fights, which stands out the most and why?
Rojas: Oh man I would have to say my 1st!!! Ohhhhhh THE ANXIETYYYY! hahahahaha! So many thoughts through your head and the butterflies in your stomach! THE way your heart pounds after the Ref says “fight!” and my favorite… THAT FIRST HIT!!! WAKE UP, LEGGOOO!
sPidA: Fight week,do you train till day of,or take the last week of prior to fight day?
Rojas: I like to train LIGHT the week of the fight until about 2 days before the fight just to keep my body moving and my weight on point!
sPidA: Whom will be cornering you for this bout, are you planning on staying a while in Florida or coming right back?
Rojas: It will be my HUSBAND! He always has my back 🙂 Alvaro’s teacher from Chicago, Ricardo Perez will also be in Florida cornering for Cyrus Washington, so Ricardo will be in my corner as well! We actually get to stay in Florida until that following Monday! So that means I can enjoy Florida for ONE beautiful day! I’ve all ready checked the weather and mid 80’s looks promising!
sPidA: If you could fight any Mixed Martial Arts female in a Muay Thai match,whom would it be and why?
Rojas: Haaaa to be honest I don’t follow Male MMA fighters very much, let alone Female MMA fighters. The only one I keep hearing about is Rhonda Rouchy?? but I think she is a good 30lbs heavier than me lol I would love to see if she could handle Germaine de Randamie in Muay Thai… Sorry but that’s an ass beating I don’t think she can handle!
sPidA: Thank you Vanessa,wish you the best of luck come fight day, anything you would like to add to this interview?
Rojas: No, Thank you for wanting to ask 🙂 I would like to say that I hope that this fight or even this interview, will give someone out there some kind of inspiration for whatever it is they have going on in their lives. Originally coming from an abusive past the only reason why I ever stepped into a gym and put on a set of gloves was to never be afraid again. In the end it not only was to never to be afraid of facing abuse again but also to never fear life and what it holds for me, good or BAD. We all risk something at some point in time its deciding whether you have the courage and heart to face it for the benefit of yourself and your loved ones.