Welcome to CV Productions Inc. “C” Frank Caliguri and “V” Bill Viola.
CV Productions, Inc., is a Pittsburgh, PA based mixed martial arts company, founded in 1979. It is considered the first MMA based company in the United States and responsible for creating the blueprint for modern mixed martial arts competition. The company promoted the first regulated league of mixed martial arts style competitions beginning in 1980 with the intention of creating a new sport–MMA. The company was founded in 1979 and was the first grass roots movement to develop mixed martial arts into a modern mainstream sport. The World Martial Arts Fighting Association (WMAFA) sanctioned all CV Productions events. This was the first regulatory body for mixed martial arts and oversaw the Tough Guys, Battle of Brawlers and Super Fighter events “Super Fighters League” (SFL).
Today, CV Production’s “anything goes” creation has evolved into one of the fastest growing sports in the world, albeit under the auspices of the Ultimate Fighting Championships. Nearly thirty years before the UFC garnered real mainstream acceptance, CV set up shop as the first mixed martial arts company in American history. Although enshrined at Heinz History Center in association with the Smithsonian Institution, you’ve likely never heard of them—until now. MMA is the sport of the 21st century: WOW Promotions popularized it, SEG Entertainment refined it, Zuffa LLC monetized it, but CV Productions created it.
Don’t be fooled by the hype, the UFC may have popularized MMA style events, but Caliguri and Viola were the first! The mma events pitted combatants from all fighting disciplines including boxers, kick boxers, martial artists, wrestlers, grapplers, and all around “tough guys.” Competitors could win by opponent’s submission, knockout or judges’ decision (based on the 10 point “must” system). The competitions were promoted as “Anything Goes – striking, throwing, grappling, punching, kicking, ground fighting, and more.” The shows were immediately dubbed by the media as “Organized, Legalized, Street Fighting” a phrase coined by KDKA’s Dave Durian. Pittsburgh is the birthplace of modern “sport” MMA (1979). The information provided on this site is collected in an effort to preserve the historical integrity of modern mixed martial arts as a sport in Pennsylvania and throughout The United States. Below are facts presented in a manner to help educate and fill in the blanks to missing parts of modern MMA history. A new book, Godfathers of MMA is dedicated to keeping the storied traditions alive and proving a historical reference for all types of combat and mixed martial arts. CV Productions is an online resource for all styles of fighting including mixed martial arts .The company is based in the Western Pennsylvania region, Greater Pittsburgh area promoting Pittsburgh Mixed Martial Arts for over thirty-five years. The company officially amended its corporate structure and re branded Pittsburgh MMA in 2012 in honor of the region being recognized as the birthplace of the sport of MMA in America. Godfathers of MMA written by Bill Viola Sr.’s son Bill Viola Jr. and Dr. Fred Adams is on sale now.
Modern MMA in America:
Don’t be fooled by the hype…America was first introduced to regulated mixed martial arts fighting March 20th 1980 in Pittsburgh, PA. The new mma-style league held 10 competitions across Pennsylvania under the banner of “Battle of the Brawlers,” “Battle of the Tough Guys,” “Tough Guy Contests” and “Battle of the Superfighters” throughout 1980, years before promotions such as UFC. Notable locations included the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, Johnstown War Memorial, and the Philadelphia Civic Center. Read more
Heinz History Museum
The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum of the Heinz History Center of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institute unveiled an exhibit on 23 June 2011 to document the birthplace of mixed martial arts.
© Pittsburgh MMA Mixed Martial Arts since 1979. CV Productions (Frank Caliguri / Bill Viola)
Sensei Bill Viola
Sensei Bill Viola, Co-founder. The “V” in CV Productions. Viola established his first karate club, Allegheny Shotokan Karate, in 1969 at Park Terrance Junior High School (East Allegheny School District). He later achieved rank from late Grand Master Robert Trias (United States Karate Association), and late Grand Master George Anderson (USA Karate Federation).
10/15/2011 Western PA Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation Grappling Championship 5/26/2012 Kumite Classic Martial Arts Championship
Pictured left to right; Bill Viola, Dana White, Frank Caliguri. CV Productions is the first documented company to promote mixed martial arts as a sport to the American public in 1980. Popular promotions such as UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) Read More
30 Year Anniversary of MMA in Pittsburgh
On May 30th 2010 Bill Viola resurrected CV Productions Inc. and promoted “Caged Kumite,” a pro-am mixed martial arts show. The event commemorated the thirty-year anniversary of mixed martial arts in Pittsburgh. Read more
Allegheny Shotokan Karate a Pittsburgh Tradition
Allegheny Shotokan Karate, established in 1969, is a Martial Arts School based in Pittsburgh / Western Pennsylvania. The club was founded by Sensei William Viola. The name “Allegheny” represented the school’s first location in Allegheny County (East Allegheny High School). “Shotokan,” is the base style of Japanese Karate taught. Over the past 5 decades the school has held classes in the suburbs of Pittsburgh including Turtle Creek, North Versailles, Paintertown, White Oak, Irwin, North Irwin and currently residing in North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
Banning Mixed Martial Arts
In November of 1980 CV Productions was ordered by The Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission to cancel their upcoming show in Greensburg, PA. They were given an ultimatum; if they proceeded, the Pennsylvania State Police would intervene and shut the event down. CV Productions ignored the warning citing that the Athletic Commission had no proven jurisdiction over Tough Guy competitions. Read More
Referees who pioneered the sport
Jacquet Bazmore was a Heavyweight Kickboxing Champion who trained at Viola and Caliguri martial arts schools. Noted as one of the most prolific Kickboxers of his era, he also was a sparring partner for boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Jack Bodell was a martial arts student of Bill Viola at Allegheny Shotokan Karate. He was at the time an agent of the United States Secret Service charged with protecting President Jimmy Carter.
1979 Tough”man” vs Tough”guy” Controversy
In 1979 Viola and Caliguri pitched the idea of “Anything goes fighting,” in local bars and gyms looking for the toughest fighters to enter a “Tough Man” competition scheduled for March of 1980. Unknown to them, Michigan promoter Art Dore was hosting boxing events under the name Toughman. CV Productions Inc. immediately changed their name to “Tough Guy” to distinguish themselves before their first event. “Tough Guy” competitions were mixed martial arts style fights that utilized open figured gloves and permitted striking, kicking, wrestling, grappling, submissions, etc. Toughman contests were purely boxing and used 16-ounce gloves. The companies had no affiliation with each other.
Hall of Fame
Pittsburgh MMA instituted the MMA Hall of Fame in 2010 and inducted fighters from the original Tough Guy Competition held March 20, 1980. The ceremony took place at the Kumite Classic Martial Arts Expo held in Monroeville, Pennsylvania on May 30, 2010. Read More
Godfather’s of MMA
The idea of finding America’s ultimate style of fighter was created in Pittsburgh by two ambitious Martial Artists in the 1970s, Bill Viola & Frank Caliguri. They set out to develop a sport that would answer the age old burning question, “Who would win between Muhammad Ali (boxer), Bruce Lee (martial artist), or Bruno Sammartino (wrestler)?” They’re answer lead to the first first grass roots movement of mixed martial arts as a modern mainstream sport. Read more
CV Productions Inc.
CV is an abbreviation for its co-founders last names, Pittsburgh Martial Arts pioneers William Viola of Irwin, Pennsylvania and Frank Caliguri of Arnold, Pennsylvania. The experienced promoters set out to address the hypothetical question, “Who would win between Muhammad Ali (boxer), Bruce Lee (martial artist) or Bruno Sammartino (wrestler)?” Viola and Caliguri spent much of 1979 developing the foundation for a series of mixed martial arts style competitions. Read More
MMA Book Deal
A major book deal has been inked documenting MMA in Pittsburgh. A Penn State University professor is currently developing a book chronicling the Toughguy craze and history of Mixed Martial Arts in Pennsylvania.