Who invented the internet? According to many sources, the inventor of the network that gave us Netflix and Facebook and the tons of fun games at JackpotCity was Sir Tim Berners Lee, an English computer scientist, while working at CERN. Actually, this is not true: he invented the World Wide Web, an information system that tells your web browser (which Sir Tim did indeed invent) that if you type the address jackpotcitycasino.com into your address bar, it will show you the homepage of the JackpotCity Casino, and when you search for a specific game on the website, it will show you the JackpotCity slot machine you’re looking for, and not a game of roulette.
The internet – a global communication network consisting of servers, optical cables, satellites, and such – was actually a group effort that grew out of a military project called Arpanet developed by the US Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) in 1975. But Sir Tim brought it into our homes so he, indeed, deserves all the credit he can get.
Mixed martial arts is a bit like the internet. It had many predecessors, and many athletes contributed to the idea… but MMA, as we know it today, can be traced back to… well, not Ronion Gracie, John Milius, and Art Davie, but to two martial arts pioneers, karateka and entrepreneur Bill Viola and Frank Caliguri, both of them from Pennsylvania, who founded the first mixed martial arts-based promotion, CV Productions, back in 1979.
Who would win?
The idea likely grew out of a rhetorical question “Who would win between Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee, and Bruno Sammartino?”. All three of the above-mentioned personalities were considered the best in their trade at the time: Bruno Sammartino held the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship belt for more than 11 years, Bruce Lee – aside from his career as an actor – was a dedicated martial artist and innovator and the inventor of Jeet Kune Do, a martial arts philosophy that included elements from various disciplines like boxing, judo, and Tai Chi, and Muhammad Ali was… well, he was Muhammad Ali.
From Tough Guys to Super Fighters
Bill Viola and Frank Caliguri spent most of the year 1979 developing a series of fighting competitions that would later be called mixed martial arts – of course, they didn’t use this name at the time. They called their bouts “Tough Guy Contests”, “Battle of the Brawlers” and similar names until settling for “Super Fighters” (Super Fighters League) in 1980. Bill Viola wrote the first MMA rulebook in 1979 – it had 11 pages that legalized mixed fighting techniques while also implementing safety standards and forbade certain moves like groin strikes and others.
The SFL represented a fight format that appealed to mainstream audiences and its creators understood that it had the potential for pretty much unlimited growth.
At the time, mixed martial arts was a brand new sport, not regulated by the PA State Athletic Commission. But the Athletic Commission had a different opinion about this matter, taking things into its own hands, and ordering CV to cancel one of their upcoming events in November 1980. Incidentally, a fighter died in a bout at the similarly named “Toughman contest”, a boxing competition, which led to an investigation – and, although CV had nothing to do with this contest, to a ban on all mixed martial arts competitions in the state. This, of course, meant the end of MMA in PA – and all over America for a decade. And Pennsylvania didn’t legalize MMA until 2009.