ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO
1973 NATIONAL BLACK BELT GRAND CHAMPIONSHIPS
By TERRY SMITH
DESPITE RAIN, FOG, SLEET, snow, hail and tornados, Sam Allred, one of the Rocky Mountain Region’s top coaches and promoters, managed to successfully present his annual National Black Belt Championships. There were a few of America’s top black belts that could not make it in, but, despite the weather, Mr. Sam had a good turnout. Allred was disappointed that his chief referee, Pat Johnson, was ill and could not make it. Johnson asked Mike Stone to take over, but Mike was snowed in. Steve Armstrong of Tacoma, Washington came to the rescue and saw to it that the tournament ran smoothly and started and ended on time. With Armstrong at the helm, three weight divisions of black belts were eliminated down to twelve winners who would have the opportunity to compete against five of the nation’s top competitors that evening. The finals promised some of the best action this “standing room only” crowd would ever see. The twelve winners of the afternoon tournament were placed in elimination rounds against Bill Wallace, Fred Wren, Byong Yu, Al Dacascos, and John Natividad. A brief points demonstration was given by Bill Wallace and Ralph Allegria which left the crowd in amazement at the speed of Wallace’s legs. Then the furious action began. After round one of the Grand Championship eliminations, eight fighters remained. All five of the nation’s cannons won their matches. The three challengers still in the running were Dan Anderson of Portland, Oregon, Bob Barrow of Gresham, Oregon, and Howard Jackson of Vallejo, California. PROFESSIONAL KARATE predicts that Howard Jackson will become one of America’s Top 20 competitors in the very near future. Jackson is a powerful, well balanced fighter with a good attitude, excellent technique, and a tremendous desire to win. He has all the makings of a national champion. At the end of the first round, several good demonstrations were presented by Sam Allred’s students and were climaxed by a demo featuring Eric Lee of San Francisco. Mr. Lee, one of America’s most noted Kung-Fu stylists, performed a sword kata that brought the packed audience to its feet. Eric Lee has not received too much publicity in the past because of his quiet nature. However, if you want a real crowd pleasing demonstration at your tournament, call on Mr. Lee. Byong Yu, the man who does everything, dazzled the audience with a demonstration of Korean kicking techniques. Mr. Yu can throw some kicks that are so difficult that they are truly hard to believe.
The first match of the quarter finals pitted Denver’s Al Dacascos against Dan Anderson, the winner of the recent U.S. Lightweight Championship in Dallas. The match began with Dacascos scoring with a hard side kick to the body. Both players were displaying a barrage of flashy kicks, but Dacascos was the first to land one for a point with a roundhouse to Anderson’s head. Anderson, now be-hind 2-0, had to hustle to catch up. He was nailed with a defensive reverse punch as he attacked, giving Dacascos the match, 3-0.
The next match featured Byong Yu against Oregon’s Bob Barrow, a Chuck Norris student. Both fighters exchanged a lot of punches in the match and the experienced Byong Yu came out on top, 3-1. The next match was fast and furious – Fred Wren against Howard Jackson. Jackson started off strong by scoring with a hard body punch; Wren immediately countered with a head punch that tied the score, 1-1. After several devastating punching exchanges, Wren finally pulled it out with a side kick to Jackson’s body to end the match, 2-1. Rounding out the quarter finals was quite a beautiful match involving National Champion Bill Wallace and Los Angeles’ John Natividad. The latter, being known as “John the Giant Killer”, had everyone wondering if he would slay “THE giant.” Both of these men are extremely proficient with their legs and fought with a great deal of respect for each other. They were extremely cautious and tried to set one another up. They were always prepared to counter should there be the slightest mistake. After several kicking exchanges, Bill Wallace pulled it out with a back fist to the head as Natividad was anticipating another roundhouse just before time ran out. Four matches remained and the crowd was excited as all four of the remaining fighters were rated in the Top 10 with each having the ability to beat the other.
Semi – Finals
BYONG YU VS. AL DACASCOS: Byong Yu wanted this one badly. He had been unable to defeat Decascos in the past. The action was fast with Yu opening up the scoring with a roundhouse to the body. With the next clash Dacascos was awarded a point for a body punch. With the score tied, 1-1, both fighters became more cautious. Seconds before the regulation time elapsed, Dacascos punched Yu squarely in the face giving Yu the point and the match.
WREN VS. WALLACE: This match proved to be the most exciting and controversial of the evening. The winner would face Byong Yu for the title. The match began with Wren showing considerable respect for Wallace’s speedy left leg and Wallace preparing for Wren’s notorious offensive onslaught. Wallace scored first with a backfist to the head. Wren tied the score, 1-1, with a backfist of his own. Wren continued his attack with a side kick which Wallace countered with a fast roundhouse to the groin. Wren immediately tied the score by sweeping both of Wallace’s feet from under him and following up with a downward punch to the head. Time ran out with the score tied, 2-2. The crowd was on its feet as the sudden death overtime began. Wren started to pour it on but Wallace kept out of range by blocking and retreating. Wren charged again and Wallace, just before stepping out of bounds, unleashed a side kick that apparently struck Wren on the arm. The referees, however, still awarded Wallace the point and the match. Wallace seemed as displeased with the call as Wren was, but being both good sports and possessing over 400 trophies between them, decided to grin and bear it. Wallace would now meet Byong Yu for the Grand Championship. In the match for third place, Fred Wren met Al Dacascos. These two have fought on many occasions and are familiar with each other’s styles. The match was shortlived as Wren made excessive face contact twice and was disqualified, making Denver’s, Al Dacascos the third place winner, with Wren having to settle for fourth.
The fast action of the finals slowed to a crawl as Wallace met Byong Yu for the Grand Championship match. Both fighters became extremely cautious knowing that the slightest mistake could make the difference in this all-important bout. The match elapsed with neither being able to score. Finally, after several minutes of overtime, Wallace lashed out with a side kick to Byong Yu’s body and ended the match to become the Grand Champion for the second straight year. Sam Allred’s annual National Black Belt Championship again was a tremendous success. The sell-out crowd and fine competition helped solidify this tournament’s position as one of the most prestigious in the United States.