Kings Of Martial Arts
As Black History Month comes to an end, I thought it would be a good time to recognize the best black martial artists of all time. But first let’s define martial arts. Wikipedia states that martial arts are a codified system of combat practices. I can agree with that. To me that includes boxing, muay thai, wrestling, BJJ, fencing, and any type of weapon-base training. But today, I will stick with what I know; hand-to-hand combat. This list is not about dojo dwelling purists, or who can perform the best kata. This category is about proven prize fighters who have competed at the highest level. Here are the black Kings of Martial Arts.
Marvelous Marvin Hagler
Marvin Hagler is responsible for my involvement in combat sports. Throughout the 80’s I watched this hard, chiseled, southpaw annihilate the competition. Between 1980 and 1987, Marvelous reigned as the undisputed middleweight champion. This king defended his title 12 times which is the second longest unified championship reign in boxing history. In addition to that, Marvin Hagler still holds the highest knockout percentage of all undisputed middleweight champions, at 78%. That’s crazy!
Some of Hagler’s victims include Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran, and Olympic silver medalist John Mugabi who was 25-0 at the time with 25 knock out. Hagler stopped Mugabi in the 11th round of their brutal showdown.
One factor that puts Hagler at the top of this list his ability to switch from southpaw to orthodox stance and knock his opponents out with either hand. But what is even more impressive than his strength and athleticism, is Hagler’s mindset and discipline. This man use to lock himself up in a closed down motel for his fight camps. He called this regiment “going to prison”. Hagler also preferred to jog in combat boots calling sneakers “sissy shoes”. Obviously, Hagler was familiar with pain, hardship and had a high tolerance for discomfort. With an impressive record of 67-3-2, it’s hard to argue against crowning the southpaw from Newark New Jersey as the King Of Martial Arts.
Ernesto “Mr. Perfect” Hoost
Born on July 11, 1965 Ernesto Hoost is a professional kickboxer hailing out of Holland. Hoost began training martial arts in his early teens. He went on to earn titles in several disciplines like Muay Thai, Karate, kickboxing and Savate. Mr. Perfect is one of the pioneers who helped popularize the Dutch kickboxing style of heavy punching combos and devastating low kicks.
As a four-time K-1 World Champion, Ernesto Hoost is one of the greatest kickboxers of all time. This Suriname/Dutch fighter holds wins over formidable opponents like Peter Aerts, Maurice Smith, Mirko Cro Cop, Jerome Le Banner, and Ray Sefo to name a few. In addition to these notable victories, Ernesto Hoost has also trained legends like Fedor Emelianenko, Tyrone Spong, and Joanna Jędrzejczyk.
With over 120 fights, Ernesto Hoost reigns supreme.
Anderson “The Spider” Silva
Coming straight out Curitiba Brazil, Anderson “The Spider” Silva is perhaps the greatest mix-martial artist ever. Although he is known for his Muay Thai prowess, Silva’s first discipline was TaeKwonDo followed by Jiu Jitsu. Since his family couldn’t afford to pay for Jiu Jitsu lessons, Anderson began training by observing and eventually rolling with the affluent kids in his neighborhood who were able to pay for the sacred lessons.
At the age of 16, Anderson Silva discovered Muay Thai, which became his prefered martial discipline. Today the crafty southpaw holds a BJJ black belt under the tutelage of the Nogueira brothers.
Aside from that, The Spider held the UFC Middleweight belt from 2006 to 2013 making him the longest title holder in UFC history. This title run includes 16 consecutive wins and 10 title defenses. With an overall record of 43-8 in MMA, Anderson Silva will go down as one of the best to ever live.
Jon “Bones” Jones
Jon Jones fighting career began as a stand-out high-school wrestler in New York State. After graduating high school and dropping out of college, Jones channeled his taste for blood and embarked on an impressive MMA career. He burst onto the international scene in 2008 when he made his UFC debut, winning a unanimous decision over a stepping stone.
Following his debut, Jon went on and cleaned out the Light heavyweight division by dismantling hall of fame fighters like Mauricio Rua, Lyoto Machida, Ryan Bader, Rashad Evans, and Daniel Cormier. The only blemish on his impressive record of 24-1 is a disqualification loss against Matt Hamill who Jones was man-handling at the time; thus, this man is virtually undefeated in the UFC. In 2011, Jon Bones Jones became the youngest UFC Champion in history. He went on to defend that title several times before being stripped for testing positive for cocaine and PEDs.
What makes Jones a special fighter is his fearlessness, his ability to dig deep, and most importantly, his willingness to take risks. Jon Jones is not afraid to throw caution to the wind and deliver spinning techniques that are usually frowned upon because they tend to leave a fighter vulnerable to counter attacks. Bow down.
Yoel “The Soldier Of God” Romero
Before becoming the number one Middleweight contender in the UFC, Yoel Romero was a decorated freestyle wrestler with numerous world titles to his name. Yoel capped off his wrestling career by winning an Olympic silver medal in 2000.
After defecting from Cuba in 2007, Romero began cage fighting in 2009, and made his way into the octagon in April 2013. From that point on, the Soldier Of God, quickly established himself as a dangerous mauler by smashing top-of-the-food-chain fighters like Tim Kennedy, Lyoto Machida, Chris Weidman, and Luke Rockhold.
What is scary is that Romero doesn’t only rely on his superior wrestling, the soldier of God has develop an awkward yet effective striking style that keeps putting his opponents on their backs. This 40 year-old man possesses an unusual amount of explosive power and I predict he will be holding the UFC belt before the end of the year.