Urquidez in 1998
|Born||June 20, 1952|
Tarzana, California, United States
|Other names||The Jet|
|Height||5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)|
|Weight||145 lb (66 kg; 10.4 st)|
|Fighting out of||Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Team||The Jet Center|
|Years active||1974–1985, 1989, 1993|
|Notable students||Pete Cunningham, David Lee Roth, John Cusack, Richard Norton, Dave Mustaine, Duff McKagan|
Benny Urquidez (born June 20, 1952) is an American kickboxer, martial arts choreographer and actor. Nicknamed "The Jet", Urquidez was a non-contact karate competitor who later pioneered full-contact fighting in the United States. He made the transition from point to full-contact karate in 1974, the year of its inception in the US, frequently fighting in bouts where the rules were ambiguous and contrasts in styles were dramatic. Urquidez is also known for once holding the rare achievement of six world titles in five different weight divisions, and remained largely undefeated in his 27-year career. His only loss came in a Muay Thai match which was shrouded in controversy, as Urquidez had only agreed to a no-decision exhibition, a clause which was ignored when the fight had ended.
Between 1974 and 1993, he amassed a documented professional record of 49–1–1 (win-loss-draw) with 35 knockouts and two controversial no-contests, although he is also supposed to have an additional record of 10–0–1 (10 KOs) in undocumented professional fights, making a total of 59–1–2–2 (45 KOs). However, sources vary with Ratings listing Urquidez as 63–0–1, (57 knockouts) and on his own official webpage, Urquidez lists his fight record as 200–0, and says he was 63–0, with 57 knockouts in title defenses. Also, he claims to have been undefeated in the "Adult Black Belt Division" prior to entering full-contact karate. Black Belt magazine voted Urquidez "Competitor of the Year" in 1978.
Early life, family and education
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Benny began competing in 1958, at the age of five, in "peewee" boxing and wrestling in Los Angeles. His martial arts instruction started when he was seven years old; his first formal teacher was Bill Ryusaki. Urquidez received his black belt at the age of 14, a highly unusual feat in the 1960s. His siblings also achieved the rank of black belt. His sister Lilly Rodriguez was a pioneer in kickboxing for women., and their late brother Reuben Urquidez appeared with Benny in a documentary on the combination martial art budojujitsu.
He entered the point circuit in 1964 and earned a reputation as a colorful fighter. At the 1972 Santa Monica Kempo Open, Urquidez lost in the finals to Brian Strian. In the 1973 Internationals, he fought John Natividad in what is considered one of the greatest non-contact bouts in history. In an unprecedented 25-point overtime match, Natividad won the match 13–12, receiving the Grand Title and the $2,500 purse. In May 1974, at the PAWAK Tournament, Urquidez lost a 4–1 decision to Joe Lewis. He also competed in England and Belgium as a member of Ed Parker's 1974 US team. Also in 1974, he began his move away from the non-contact style by entering and winning the World Series of Martial Arts Championship, effectively a tough-man contest with few rules. Over the next two decades, he fought under various kickboxing organizations (NKL, WPKO, Professional Karate Association (PKA), World Kickboxing Association (WKA), AJKBA, Shin-Kakutojutsu Federation, NJPW and MTN) to amass a record of 58 wins with no losses. This undefeated record, though official, is controversial and highly disputed.
In 1977, Urquidez traveled to Japan and fought under the WKA's compromise US–Japan rules which included leg kicks and knees to the body. He defeated Katsuyuki Suzuki by KO in the 6th round (August 1977) as part of the professional wrestling event in which Antonio Inoki fought Everett Eddy in what was said to be a wrestler/karate fighter mixed match but was a pre-determined pro wrestling match. The Suzuki fight materialized because the newly formed WKA organization could not compete against the PKA in the US. At the same time, Japanese professional wrestler Antonio Inoki, who gained the worldwide fame by fighting Muhammad Ali in the controversial 1976 boxer/wrestler mixed-match in Japan, had been looking for new opponents for what he called the world martial arts championship series. Eventually, promoter Ron Holmes discovered Everett Eddy for Inoki. By that time, Eddy had been coached by Arnold Urquidez, and lost in a knockout in the 1st round to PKA world heavyweight champion Ross Scott in the previous year. In the same event, Benny Urquidez knocked out Howard Jackson, but soon his lightweight title was stripped by the PKA, and so both Eddy and Urquidez had no action in the US, and had to look for fights overseas. Even though the Inoki/Eddy bout was successful, it was the fight between Urquidez and Suzuki, which shocked Japan, where Japanese kickboxing had been very popular. Though never tested for or achieved any rank in Japanese karate, Urquidez has decided to bestow upon himself the rank of sensei, a Japanese honorific term which at the most shallowest term, would mean "guide".
The All-Japan Kickboxing Association, for which Suzuki had been rated as No. 2, became interested in the American sport of full-contact karate, decided to promote series of mixed-rules bouts between the American full-contact karate fighters and Japanese kickboxers. On November 14, 1977, the AJKF held the first of such event which featured Benny Urquidez, his brother-in-law Blinky Rodriguez, Marc Costello, Brendan Leddy, Tony Lopez, Leonard Galiza and Freddy Avila. Only Benny Urquidez and Costello came out as the winners for the American team. Urquidez's victory over Kunimitsu Okao convinced the Japanese fight fans, and eventually began to be featured as the central figure for what was supposed to be the documentary comic book, The Square Ring, until he declined to avenge his loss against the Thai opponent Prayout Sittiboonlert. Urquidez's second loss came in August 1980 in Florida. American Billye Jackson dominated seven rounds including knocking Urquidez down. Urquidez protested the decision and petitioned the WKA's Howard Hansen to classify it as a non-contest.
After 1980, Urquidez' ring appearances became less frequent. Between 1981 and 1984 he fought only sporadically. In 1984, he fought Ivan Sprang in Amsterdam under modified Muay Thai rules (no elbows), winning by 6th-round TKO. His ring career largely came to a halt after 1985, and he retired after facing Yoshihisa Tagami at the age of 41. Subsequently, Urquidez became devoted to acting, teaching kickboxing and martial arts choreography. Urquidez's late brother Reuben was also a competitive martial artist and actor; they appeared together in a 1982 training video, World Of Martial Arts, along with Steve Sanders (karate), Chuck Norris and John Saxon. Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth dedicated the band's hit 1984 song "Jump" to Urquidez, of whom Roth was a student.
In 2000, Urquidez and Emil Farkas founded the Los Angeles Film Fighting Institute, which was one of the first schools of its kind in the United States to teach martial artists the intricacies of stunt work.
Urquidez has had training in nine styles: Judo, Kajukenbo, Shotokan, Taekwondo, Lima Lama, White Crane Kung Fu, Jujutsu, Aikido and American Kenpo. He is the founder of Ukidokan Karate. He continued to teach at The Jets Gym in North Hollywood, California. Urquidez has also authored various instructional books and videos. He also has a special friendship with actor/client John Cusack with whom talks of opening up a bigger gym in Santa Monica, targeting former champions as clients and trainers are in the works as Cusack has shown interest in taking part as co-owner. The Jets Gym in the North Hollywood location closed in 2007, to make way for a shopping mall. Today, he is still very active teaching privately, and working as a stunt coordinator in the entertainment business. He teaches ukidokan kickboxing at Team Karate Center in Woodland Hills, California.
Benny Urquidez was the first kickboxing champion with an international profile who also operated as a free agent under different rules for different sanctions. Consequently, he fought in several unorthodox match-ups and hotly disputed bouts. In late 1974, in the grand finale of an early mixed martial arts-style tough man contest in Honolulu, Hawaii, a 5-foot 6-inch 145-pound Urquidez decisioned a 6-foot 1-inch 230-pound Dana Goodson after scoring a takedown and pin against Goodson in the third and final round.
A year later, in Detroit, Urquidez was disqualified for knocking out his opponent with a fourth punch under the subsequently-discontinued three-punch rule. The disqualifying referee was the opponent's own karate instructor. The bout was excoriated on network television, prompting state athletic commissions across the United States to become interested in regulating the sport. Chuck Norris' short-lived International Karate League (IKL) and later the STAR System world ratings reversed this outcome.
Another three bouts were eventually ruled no-contests (NC). The first, in Los Angeles on March 12, 1977, was a nine-round NC (WKA) against Thai boxer Narongnoi Kiatbandit as part of the inaugural WKA world title event. Urquidez scored flash-knockdowns against Narongnoi in rounds three and six as well as five legal throws over three other rounds. Narongnoi was warned for illegal knee kicks and groin attacks on four occasions before being assessed with a point deduction in round nine. However, the point deduction came shortly after Narongnoi had scored his sole flash-knockdown which, in turn, provoked a riot among Muay Thai fans in the audience. The audience invaded the ring moments before the final bell. Scores were never collected for round nine. The California State Athletic Commission declared the no-contest.
Next, on April 29, 1978, Urquidez faced his fourth Japanese opponent Shinobu Onuki in Tokyo; the event was co-promoted by the AJKBA and Shin-Kakutojutsu Federation. Eventually, Urquidez executed a throw that dislocated Onuki's shoulder. Initially, because of the throw, Urquidez was given a TKO loss, however, the promoters acknowledged that Urquidez used the throw without knowing it was illegal under Japanese rules; the bout was then scored as a no-contest. Following this unsatisfactory result, the two faced each other again in Las Vegas on January 2, 1980. The fight was aired by NBC, and this time Urquidez knocked out Onuki with a left hook to the body. Later, in October 1981, when the AJKBA merged with the WKA, the WKA transmuted the original Onuki no-contest to a TKO victory for Urquidez because, in fact, Urquidez's fight contract had permitted throws.
Third, Urquidez fought to a seven-round NC (WKA) against Billye Jackson in West Palm Beach, Florida, on August 8, 1980. This non-title fight was first reported as a seven-round decision for Jackson; then was changed to a seven-round technical draw, and then to a no-contest. The WKA waited until March 1986 to unambiguously transmute this outcome owing to uneven glove assignments and a coerced last-minute rule change that unfairly affected Urquidez's performance in an otherwise close bout. Despite multiple attempts to reschedule a rematch to settle the dispute Urquidez refused to fight Jackson. The no-contest status of these fights has been corroborated in print by Paul Maslak (Chief Administrator of the STAR System world ratings). as a side note the WKA and Star system ratings was owned and operated by Urquidez brother Arnold.
Meanwhile, on August 2, 1978, Urquidez faced the then fifth-ranked welterweight Thai boxer, Prayout Sittiboonlert, in Tokyo as part of the Shin-Kakutojutsu Organization's first independent event. The rules for the bout included six two-minute rounds, one-minute intervals, and no elbow contact as per agreement with Urquidez. Urquidez lost a heart-stopping decision to the Thai, who controlled the fight with relentless knee attacks and through the masterful use of Thai clinches. Afterward, Urquidez claimed he had been maneuvered into a competitive bout under unaccustomed "new rules" through deliberate misrepresentations. A rematch was set on October 30, 1978 at the Budokan (Martial Arts Hall) as part of the five world championships card for the Shin-Kakutojutsu Organization. However, for unknown reasons, Urquidez canceled the fight on the day of the event. According to one report, Urquidez did travel to Japan, but was unable to recover sufficiently from a high fever which he contracted from an allergic reaction to pain medication being used to treat a lingering left knuckle injury. This sanctioning organization was among several discontinued in 1981 for alleged ties to organized crime. Both the WKA and the STAR world ratings regarded this bout as muay Thai, a separate sport, and did not include it as part of Urquidez's rankings and record count for kickboxing.
After a six-year absence from the Japanese ring, Urquidez agreed to fight an exhibition against Nobuya Asuka on April 24, 1989 at the Tokyo Dome as part of the New Japan Pro-Wrestling event. The rules of the bout were five rounds at two-minutes each, one-minute intervals and without elbow or knee contact to the head. Additionally, it was established that, if the fight went the distance, it would automatically be scored as a draw. The bout did go five rounds without knockout or disqualification and a no-decision was immediately declared.
After another four-year absence on December 4, 1993, in "The Legend's Final Challenge" at the Mirage Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, Urquidez fought Japanese champion Yoshihisa Tagami to establish the vacant WKA super welterweight world title. Despite having injured his left wrist in training, Urquidez proceeded with the bout and narrowly defeated his equally aggressive opponent with kicking attacks. Urquidez slipped to the canvas in round two; and Tagami scored a clean flash knockdown in round nine. Neither contestant was ever in serious trouble. The bout ended in a split decision, two judges scoring for Urquidez, one for Tagami.
In September 1994, Urquidez revealed he had been challenged by Rorion Gracie for a mixed martial arts bout as part of the Gracie Challenge. He claimed to have backed down from the fight, considering it to be just a promotional stunt, due to Rorion demanding to fight for free after having negotiated for a fight purse. In response, in November of the same year, Rorion's brother Royce Gracie challenged Urquidez himself, which Benny rejected on the grounds of being retired.
Months later, Royce claimed that Rorion had already dominated Urquidez in a training at his Jet Center gym in 1978, taking him down multiple times without being touched, and accused Urquidez of not having helped the Gracies to establish themselves as he had promised. He also claimed Urquidez only wanted to fight under kickboxing rules, without risking to being defeated.
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Urquidez has played a number of roles in various martial arts movies. The first was Force: Five (1981), starring Joe Lewis and Bong Soo Han. Later, he made two movies with Jackie Chan, Wheels on Meals (1984) and Dragons Forever (1988), wherein he fights against the characters played by Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. Urquidez is depicted as a relentlessly tough opponent who is defeated in the climactic fight scenes of both movies. His final fight with Chan in Wheels on Meals is considered to be among the finest fights of Chan's career, including by Chan himself. He cameoed as a kickboxer in the Troma film Ragin' Cajun. The movie, filmed in 1988 and released in 1991, wrongfully asserted that it featured Urquidez's first film appearance, stating in the opening credits, "Introducing Benny 'The Jet' Urquidez". He appeared in the 1989 film Roadhouse as one of the fighters seen at a car dealership which is partially destroyed in elaborately choreographed mayhem. He trained Patrick Swayze in his own fighting techniques for the film. Urquidez appears in the 1991 film Blood Match, and in 1992, he played a referee in the James Woods / Louis Gossett, Jr. film Diggstown. He has a cameo appearance in the movie Street Fighter (1994), playing one of several prisoners put in a truck with Ken, Ryu, Sagat and Vega. Urquidez was also responsible for the physical training of most of the Street Fighter cast. He was set to play a different character in the franchise, Raven, in a game based on the movie, but the character was later scrapped.
Urquidez performed in the film Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) as Felix La Poubelle, a hitman sent to kill a character played by John Cusack. He appeared in 1408 (2007), again with Cusack. In reality, Urquidez is Cusack's long-time kickboxing trainer. Urquidez also appeared as one of several thugs who accost Kirsten Dunst's character in the first Spider-Man film during an attempted robbery; Urquidez plays the thug wearing a black-and-white-striped T-shirt who makes kissing noises at Dunst. He was a fight coordinator for an episode of the television drama Criminal Minds, "The Bittersweet Science" (season 7, episode 10), and also appears in the episode in a 30-second role as an underground MMA referee.
Titles and awards
- World Kickboxing League W.K.L - Hall of Fame 2013
- Black Belt Magazine
- 1978 Competitor of the Year
- KATOGI super-lightweight (-63.6 kg) world champion (0 title defences - vacated): 1978
- Muay Thai Bond Nederland
- M.T.B.N. welterweight (-66 kg) world champion (0 title defences - vacated): 1984
- National Karate League
- N.K.L. lightweight (-70.5 kg) world champion (3 title defences - vacated): 1974-1975
- Professional Karate Association
- P.K.A. lightweight (-65.9 kg) world champion (2 title defences - vacated): 1976-1977
- STAR System World Kickboxing Ratings
- World Kickboxing Association
- W.K.A. super-welterweight (-70 kg) world champion (0 title defences - vacated): 1993
- W.K.A. welterweight (-66.8 kg) world champion (0 title defences - vacated): 1985
- W.K.A. super-lightweight (-64.5 kg) world champion (14 title defences - vacated): 1977-1985 Note that 1 of the defences were for the W.K.A. lightweight world title (-65.9 kg) but the weight classes were later restructured
- World Professional Karate Organization
- W.P.K.O. lightweight (-65.9 kg) world champion (0 title defences): 1975
- World Series of Martial Arts Championships
- W.S.M.A.C. lightweight (-79.5 kg) world champion (4 title defences - vacated): 1975-1976
- W.S.M.A.C. openweight (unlimited weight) world champion (1 title defences - vacated): 1974-1976
Note that the record below is the documented professional record of Benny Urquidez from the S.T.A.R. website. He also is believed to have 11 undocumented matches, winning 10, drawing one with all 10 victories by way of KO.
49 wins (35 (T)KOs, 14 decisions), 1 loss, 1 draw, 3 no contests
Legend: Win Loss Draw/No contest Notes
- Benny Urquidez, 格闘技に生きる (Living On The Martial Arts). Sports Life Publications, Inc.(Japan, May 1982)
- Corcoran, J. and E. Farkas, Martial Arts: Traditions, History, People. W.H. Smith (New York, 1983)
- Benny Urquidez, King of The Ring. Pro Action Publishing (Los Angeles, 1995) ISBN 0-9615126-4-4
- Benny Urquidez, Practical Kick-Boxing: Strategy in Training & Technique Pro-Action Pub. (December 1982) ISBN 0-9615126-9-5
- Benny Urquidez, Karate Dynamics: The Ukidokan System Pro-Action Pub. (July 1991) ISBN 0-9615126-1-X
- Benny Urquidez, Training and Fighting Skills ISBN 0-86568-015-9
- Stuart Goldman, The Baddest Dude In The World, Hustler Magazine, March 1979.
- Colvin, Richard (1993-11-28). "'Jet' Fighter's Final Mission : Kick-Boxing Legend Urquidez Driven in Comeback Bid". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
- "Kick Boxer Benny the Jet, at 41, Readies for Bout With World Champion". Los Angeles Times. 1993-11-30. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
- Henson, Steve (1985-08-17). "The Jet: Born to Brawl, Benny Urquidez Lived Through a Death Match to Become One of the Greatest Unknown Fighters in America". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
- Colvin, Richard (1993-11-28). "'Jet' Fighter's Final Mission: Kick-Boxing Legend Urquidez Driven in Comeback Bid". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
- Weiner, Don (1993-12-05). "Urquidez Jets Way to Victory, Netting 6th Kickboxing Crown". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
- "BENNY 'THE JET' URQUIDEZ". S.T.A.R. Archived from the original on 2011-08-27. Retrieved 2011-07-24.
- "Black Belt Hall of Fame". Black Belt Magazine. Archived from the original on 2009-03-09. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
- "Bill Ryusaki". kenponet.com. Retrieved 2011-06-04.
- "Sensei Benny Urquidez Kickboxing Classes". teamkaratecenters.com. 2009. Archived from the original on May 2, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
- Nelson, Valerie J. (2007-01-21). "Lilly Rodriguez, 59; martial arts champion helped open up kickboxing for women". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
- "STAR Authenticated Kickboxing Record: Benny Urquidez" (4 December 1993). "STAR Equalization Findings" section Archived 2012-08-02 at the Wayback Machine, StarSystemKickboxing.net website. Retrieved on 19 June 2011.
- BAB Japan. The Dave Cater Interview. 格闘技通信No.9 Kakutougi Tsuushin ("Martial Arts Network No. 9") (Japan). August 1, 1987.
- "Urquidez Retains Title with Knockout Over Okao". Black Belt. online at Google Books. April 1978. p. 10. Retrieved 3 November 2010.
- Christe, Ian (2009). Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga. John Wiley & Sons. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-470-53618-6.
- Young, Robert W.; Horwitz, Raymond (March 12, 2014). "Benny 'The Jet' Urquidez: Exclusive Video Interview With the Kickboxing and Full-Contact Karate Legend". Retrieved February 8, 2017.
- "Inter-Art Melee Earns Urquidez $5,000 Prize" (March 1975). Professional Karate magazine, pp. 8-9.
- Marlow, Chris (November 1981). "The WKA: The First Worldwide Sanctioning Body for Full-Contact Karate", Karate Monthly magazine, pp. 60-70.
- Benny Urquidez (1982). 格闘技に生きる Living On The Martial Arts. Japan: Sports Life Publications, Inc. Japan. pp. 185.
- Benny Urquidez, King of The Ring. Pro Action Publishing (Los Angeles, 1995) ISBN 0-9615126-4-4, p. 318
- 怪鳥ユキーデ遂に散る！(Benny The Jet Finally Shot Down!). ゴング ("Gong"). October 1, 1978:40.Japan
- CCorcoran, John (December 1979). "The Case against Kick Boxing", Inside Kung-Fu magazine, pp. 28-35.
- 勝木弘道 Katsuki, Hiromichi. 藤原～シープレーの激闘は因縁を超えて見る者を感動させた！The Tough Battle Between Fujiwara And Sepree Made A Deep Impression On The Audiences!. ゴング ("Gong"). January 1, 1979:184.Japan
- McCoy, Kid (March 14, 2007). "Japan's Kickboxing - A Condensed History", Kyokushin4life.com. Archived June 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 14 July 2011.
- 斉藤和紀 Saito, Kazunori. ４・２４東京ドームで再び ベニー・ユキーデ、続怪鳥伝説幕開けThe Jet of Benny Urquidez Flies Once Again At Tokyo Dome : The New Beginning of the Continuing Legend. 格闘技通信Kakutougi Tsuushin("Martial Arts Network"). July 1, 1989:36.Japan
- Kessler, Sandra E. (September 1994). "Benny 'The Jet' Fights Back", Black Belt magazine (digitized by Google Books), pp. 64-70, 112. Retrieved on 26 June 2011.
- Jeffrey, Douglas (April 1994). "'The Jet' Nearly Shot Down in 'Farewell' Victory", Black Belt magazine (digitized by Google Books), pp. 18-23. Retrieved on 26 June 2011.
- Letters, Black Belt magazine, February 1995
- Royce Gracie, The Ultimate Fighter, Black Belt magazine, March 1995
- "Talking with Jackie Chan". Kung Fu Magazine. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
- Johnston, Trevor. "100 best action movies of all time: 58: Wheels on Meals (1984)". Timeout.com. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
- "Kickin' Butt and Taking Names". Electronic Gaming Monthly (65). EGM Media, LLC. December 1994. p. 183.
- "Latest Movies and TV Shows With Benny Urquidez". IMDb. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
- "Benny Urquidez". IMDb. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
- Sacks, Ethan (April 22, 2012). "John Cusack puts his action skills to the test as Edgar Allan Poe in 'The Raven'". nydailynews.com. Archived from the original on January 14, 2014. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
- "'Criminal Minds' The Bittersweet Science (2011)". The Internet Movie Database.
- "ukidokan karate : definition of ukidokan karate and synonyms of ukidokan karate (English)". dictionary.sensagent.com. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
- "STAR System Authenticated Kickboxing Record: BENNY "THE JET" URQUIDEZ (fight record & stats - not that only documented version has been included). "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-08-02. Retrieved 2012-04-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Retrieved on 23 July 2011
- "STAR System Authenticated Kickboxing Record: Benny 'The Jet' Urquidez" (24 April 2012). http://www.starsystemkickboxing.net/Pages/BennyUrquidez.aspx Archived 2012-12-01 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2 June 2012
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