Kick-boxing: Next TV knockout?

March 25, 1994|By Phil Jackman

The TV Repairman:

Back in 1975, when he was competing, Joe Corley took part in a kick-boxing show and he was convinced afterward that "we had something. I couldn't come up with any reasons why karate wouldn't become really big."

Nearly two decades later and now in the role of spokesman for the sport, Corley's still spreading the gospel; only this time he has legions of believers.

"The biggest night in the history of kick-boxing," is the way Corley is describing PKA KarateMania VIII, which is no small claim considering the sport has been around for a thousand years. Joe, together with fellow analysts Don "The Dragon" Wilson and boxer Bobby Czyz and announcer Sam Smith, will work the pay-per-view extravaganza from Montreal beginning at 9 p.m. tomorrow.

"We've been selling out arenas with our competitions for a long time, but now TV is the catalyst I see leading kick-boxing to

bigger and better things," says Corley. "Just look at what big stars Wilson, Chuck Norris and Claude Van Damme have become after getting their start in the sport."

The lineup is impressive, champions galore pairing off in what amounts to a huge title reunification festival. The headliner is Jean Yves Theriault, the legendary "Iceman," swapping punches and kicks with Rick "The Jet" Roufus.

"I took part in an exhibition against Theriault [68-5] when I was just a kid [19]," recalls Roufus (44-1), "and I didn't do that well. He was arrogant and not sociable at all. And although I have great respect for him, it's time for me to break him and retire him."

The world heavyweight crown will be up for grabs between Dennis "The Terminator" Alexio (56-1) and Dick "The Destroyer" Kimber (17-1). Going for the lightweight title will be Juan "The Ghost Warrior" Torres (28-4) vs. Paul Vizzio (39-1).

Corley discounts the theory that the object of full-contact karate is simply to kick the other guy's head in. "Martial artists, guys who have dedicated their lives to the sport, aren't thugs," he says. "We got into it to learn dignity, honor and respect and the main aim of competition is to match skills, nothing else.

"These guys, six of the most dangerous men who walk the planet, aren't trained killers. They have too much respect for a fellow martial arts practitioner. They fight to display their skills and protect their titles."

* Best laid plans: NBC was hoping for a big skating effort out of national champ Scott Davis in its prime time showing of the World Championships from Japan tonight (8), but the kid bombed out early. The men's singles (taped) will be a fine show anyway since the 1-2-3 finishers in the recent Olympics, including Canada's Elvis Stojko, are aboard. The net has two shows tomorrow, at 1 and 8 p.m., the women and dance final going late.

* There's a very simple reason why Channel 13 isn't picking up installment No. 1 of ABC's NHL series commencing Sunday at 1 p.m. with the Capitals vs. Bruins meeting as one of the designated games: the Orioles are playing the Cardinals.

* Don't be looking for any big heavyweight reunification bout between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis on pay-per-view soon. And it appears Riddick Bowe is out the picture for quite a while, too.

Besides the percentage champions having other opponents to deal with -- Holyfield taking on Michael Moorer and Lewis going against Phil Jackson in the next month of so -- Lewis also has a WBC mandatory defense on his dance card.

The way Holyfield's promoter Dan Duva sees it, "We feel no obligation to Bowe, and won't until the title is unified. Lewis, if he beats Jackson, has to fight Oliver McCall, then we could start thinking about putting all the titles on the line in November.

"That has been Evander's goal since he came back, to unify. Bowe should wait. After all, he's the guy who split up the title in the first place.

* A spokesman for CBS, noting that Connecticut and Florida will get national exposure in the second game of the East Regional in Miami tonight while Indiana and Boston College go regionally, said, "This breaks the myth that [the network] controls the tournament." Heavens, whoever thought that?

Tonight's twin bill, with Maryland going in the second game against Michigan at about 10:30, gets under way at 8. After the NCAA Division II title game goes at 1 p.m. tomorrow, the Southeast and West title games will flow from 3:30 to 8 p.m. Sundays regional finals begin at 1:30 p.m. in order not to infringe upon "60 Minutes."

* It's quite obvious all the complaining some backers of women's basketball have done over the years has finally had its effect. All four of tomorrow's regional finals will be on live on ESPN at 11 a.m., 7:30, 9:30 p.m. and midnight.

* Tennis nuts, take heart. If you missed the opening singles of the U.S.-India Davis Cup match today (2 p.m.), it'll be replayed on ESPN at 3 a.m. tonight.

* Do you have a sneaking suspicion that NBC, the NBA, the Lakers and everybody else are all party to Magic Johnson's coming back to coach and pump life into the suddenly moribund franchise in one of pro hoop's premier markets?

* That was a strange (bush) reaction Bruce Cunningham of Channel 45 had to news of an injury out of the Toronto Blue Jays camp Wednesday night: "Good news for the Orioles. Joe Carter has broken his thumb and figures to be out for a couple of months." Good news?

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