WESTMINSTER — Carroll County has its very own world champion in Manchester's Mike Johnson.
But many of you probably aren't sure what the 23-year-oldis champion of, so here is a bit of background on the World Martial Mania Federation.
Martial mania is a combination of Japanese-style kickboxing and judo. It is a modern version of the ancient Greek art pankration, which was the forerunner of modern-day boxing and wrestling.
The WorldMartial Mania Federation was formed in June 1987 and is represented in the United States, Europe, Australia, Hong Kong and Africa (mostlySouth Africa).
Three types of fighting are promoted:
* Full contact (with which Johnson is involved).
* Limited contact (knockouts to the body and legs only are permitted).
* Light contact (no knockouts permitted).
Only professional fighters holding a black belt in a martial art are allowed to take part in full-contact matches.
There are 13 different weight classes in the WMMF, ranging from the flyweight division to the super-heavyweight class.
Johnson is the world champion in the cruiserweight division -- which starts at 180 pounds.
Federation rules say a champion must defend his title atleast once a year against the No. 1 contender, as determined by a federation-approved rating list.
The cruiserweight division has had only two champions -- Andre Blignaut of South Africa and Johnson. On Saturday, Johnson faces a rematch against Blignaut in a fight that isbeing fought in
accordance with Maryland State Athletic Commission regulations. The match will be Johnson's first defense as champion.
Blignaut defended the title successfully six times before fallingto Johnson last May in South Africa in their first meeting.
All world title fights are scheduled for nine rounds. Each round is two minutes long.
Matches take place in a boxing ring no less than 15 feet square within the ropes. Kicks, punches, throws, locks and pindowns are all legal tactics.
A fighter can submit at any time during around by lifting one arm and shouting, "Submit" -- ending the round.
Total submission takes place when a fighter lifts both arms and crosses them while shouting, "Referee" -- indicating he is surrendering. The fight is stopped, and the opponent declared the winner.
Johnson has been involved with martial arts for 12 years and has fought in the WMMF for two years, compiling a 9-1 record.
In addition to his professional fighting career, he owns Johnson's Tae Kwon Do in York, Pa.