Pete Cunningham (kickboxer)

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Peter Cunningham
Book cover 2014.jpg
BornMarch 25, 1963 (1963-03-25) (age 59)
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Other namesSugarfoot
ResidenceLos Angeles, California
NationalityCanadian
Height1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
DivisionLightweight
Super Lightweight
Junior Welterweight
Welterweight
StyleChitō-ryū, Karate, Ukidokan Karate, Boxing, Kickboxing
Fighting out ofThe Jet Center
Teacher(s)Robert Supeene Sr., Tom Forstreuter, Ed Couzens, Benny "The Jet" Urquidez
Rank5th degree black belt in Kempo Karate, 2nd degree black belt in Chito-Ryu Karate
Years active18 years
Professional boxing record
Total14
Wins10
Losses4
Kickboxing record
Total53
Wins50
By knockout21
Losses1
Draws2
Other information
OccupationCoach at Sugarfoot Kickboxing Coach at Team USA Kickboxing
Notable studentsRichard Norton, Stephen Quadros, Vinc Pichel, Mia St. John, Mikaela Mayer
Websitesugarfootkickboxing.com

Peter "Sugarfoot" Cunningham (born March 25, 1963) is a retired Canadian 7-time World Champion[1] Hall of Fame[2] kickboxer, boxer, martial artist, actor and author. Rated by experts as one of the greatest full contact fighters of all time,[3] Sugarfoot was a superb technician who possessed high fighting I.Q. and lightning speed. He retired from kickboxing in 1996[4] with a record of 50-1-1, having avenged the only draw of his career but only one defeated Peter, the undefeated Richard Sylla at the WKA World Title in Paris. Cunningham's skills in the ring have been praised by many martial arts legends, including Benny "The Jet" Urquidez, Bill "Superfoot" Wallace, Chuck Norris, Dan Inosanto, Rigan Machado, Don "The Dragon" Wilson and many others. Cunningham maintained a high level competition throughout his career as most of his opponents were either current or former champions. In 1998 in San Jose, California, Peter was honored as the inaugural inductee in the I.S.K.A. Hall of Fame.[5]

Cunningham's nickname "Sugarfoot" is a combination of the names of two great fighters in boxing and kickboxing that his style most resembled, "Sugar" Ray Leonard and Bill "Superfoot" Wallace, and it was given to him by his peers at his first dojo in Edmonton, Canada while he was still a teenager.

Ssdd.jpg

Peter's World Titles included the W.K.A (World Karate Association) Lightweight,[6] Super Lightweight[7] and Junior Walterweight[8] World Titles, the K.I.C.K. (Karate International Council of Kickboxing) Super Lightweight Title,[9] the I.M.F. (International Muay Thai Federation) Junior Welterweight Title,[10] and the I.S.K.A. (International Sport Karate Association) Light Welterweight World Title.

Sugarfoot is also an actor and has appeared in TV series such as Kung Fu: The Legend Continues[11] and CSI,[12] and in movies such as No Retreat, No Surrender[13] (1986) and The Fighter (2010).[14]

Biography and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Peter D.O. Cunningham was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on March 25, 1963.[15] When he was six years old, his parents divorced,[16] and his mother Rosel left Trinidad and Tobago together with him and his siblings, and moved to the small island of St. Vincent in the West Indies.[17] This is where Peter watched Enter the Dragon for the first time as a 10-year old and decided that he is "going to be like Bruce Lee".[18] In 1976, Peter's family moved yet again, this time to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada,[19] to start a new life. His mother became a sole bread winner and took care of the children.[20] Peter attended St. Marks Junior High School[21] and St. Joseph's High School in Edmonton.

Introduction to martial arts[edit]

Peter took his first karate class in February 1978 after being introduced to his first karate dojo and first Sensei Grandmaster Robert Supeene Sr. by junior high school friends.[22] He immediately felt the connection with his Sensei and fell in love with the sport. Seven months later, as an orange belt holder Peter participated in his first karate tournament.[23] Along with winning top prize in his own belt division, he was voted "Best Technician" of the tournament,[24] an award typically only won by black belts. This tournament marked the beginning of his career.

Fighting career[edit]

Retirement fight, Dida Diafat 2, 1996.

Peter started his amateur kickboxing career in 1980, when he beat Reg Johnson in Calgary, Canada.[25] Later that month, he began taking boxing lessons with Ted James and his son Rocky at the South Side Legion boxing gym in Edmonton.[26]

A few more wins in amateur kickboxing followed, and in January 1981, Peter met the legendary Benny "The Jet" Urquidez,[27] who was giving a kickboxing seminar in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.[28] This is where The Jet told the young fighter "you are going to be a great champion". Around this time, Peter "Sugarfoot" Cunningham had his first professional kickboxing fight where he took on the Canadian Champion Gordy Gong.[29] Peter won by a big knock out, a round kick to the head.[30] After the fight, Sensei Rueben Urquidez and Sensei Blinky Rodriguez approached Cunningham and his mother to congratulate him on the big win, and extend an invitation to come and train out of their world class facility in Van Nuys, California, The Jet Center.[31] This was a dream come true for Peter and he gladly accepted.

As Sugarfoot made his move to Los Angeles, he was featured on the undercard of Muhammad Ali's exhibition bout with Edmonton Oiler enforcer Dave Semenko. The event took place at Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton on June 12, 1983.[32] Peter defeated his opponent, who was a World Lightweight Champion, and impressed Ali's trainer and cornerman Bundini Brown, who introduced Sugarfoot to Ali and his family. Ali signed a book for Peter's mother, and then suggested to Bundini to invite the young fighter to come and train at the Joe Lewis - Muhammad Ali Gym in Santa Monica.[33]

It seems that it was destiny and that the stars aligned - two of the greatest champions in their respective sports, boxing and kickboxing - both extended invitations to join them and train with them to pursue his championship aspirations. From that point on, and for the next three years Peter trained at both gyms every day, at the Joe Lewis - Muhammad Ali Gym in the morning and at the Jet Center in the afternoon. At this time, Sugarfoot was fighting professionally in both boxing and kickboxing. He began to gravitate towards kickboxing, and in 1986 after losing a controversial boxing lightweight title fight, decided to focus solely on kickboxing.

Acting[edit]

Peter is also an actor with several movies to his credit.[34] In his first role, Cunningham played the lightweight champion fighter Frank Peters and faced off with action star Jean-Claude Van Damme in the 1986 martial arts film No Retreat, No Surrender.[35] He was also featured in the 1986 Yuen Biao/Corey Yuen film Righting Wrongs.[36] In addition, Peter guest starred opposite David Carradine on the Kung Fu: The Legend Continues[37] television series (1993) and worked on big budget feature I Spy (2002), where he doubled Eddie Murphy. Most recently, Peter was in The Fighter (2010), playing the role of Mike 'Machine Gun' Mungin.[38]

On set of The Fighter, 2010

Trainer[edit]

After retiring from competition, Peter continued his career in martial arts as a successful trainer. He has and is continuing to train top professional fighters, amateur fighters, as well as teaching classes for general public, including kids and adults. Over the years, he has trained many World Champion amateur and professional fighters in boxing and kickboxing, as well as well-known celebrities. In 2014, Cunningham was invited to be one of the coaches of the USA Kickboxing Team, and he brought his star pupil German Baltazar along with him. Together, they have led the team to gold medals in several international tournaments and events, including the 2014 Irish Kickboxing Open, 2014 WAKO (World Association of Kickboxing Organizations) tournament in Canada, 2014 Brazilian Kickboxing World Cup and a history-making USA vs. Cuba tournament in Havana, Cuba in 2015. In 2018 he was teaching at House Of Champions in California.

Other[edit]

Peter grew up with siblings Julie, Zoey, Natalie, Vertille, Bert and Patrick. His son Chazz Christian Cunningham was born in 1998.[39] As of 2016, Sugarfoot trains fighters and teaches classes at Team Karate Centers in Woodland Hills. Cunningham has written two books, the first of which, a kickboxing training manual entitled Civilized Warring, was published in 1995.[40] He co-authored his second book, "Testimonials of a Legendary Champion" in 2013.[41]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Boxing[edit]

  • Edmonton Golden Gloves – Gold Medal – 1981[42]
  • Canadian Games – Bronze Medal – 1981
  • #1 ranked Lightweight boxer in Canada – 1986

Kickboxing and Muay Thai[edit]

  • International Muay Thai Federation
    • 1988 IMF World Junior Welterweight Champion[47]
  • World Martial Arts Challenge
    • W.M.A.C. Junior Welterweight World Champion

Fight Record[edit]

Professional Kickboxing record
49 wins (21 (T)KOs), 1 Loss, 2 Draws
Date Result Opponent Event Location Method Round Time Record
1996-06-01 Win France Dida Diafat Paris, France Decision 12 2:00 49-1-2
Defends ISKA Oriental rules World Light-welterweight (-64.5kg) title.
1993-12-04 Win United Kingdom Ronnie Green W.K.A. Event at Mirage Hotel Las Vegas, Nevada, USA Decision (unanimous) 12 2:00 48-1-2
Wins WKA Kickboxing World light welterweight title.
1992-11-21 Draw France Dida Diafat ISKA Kickboxing Paris, France Decision 12 2:00
Defends ISKA Oriental rules World Light-welterweight (-64.5kg) title.
1992-03-16 Win United States Chris Anderson World Martial Arts Challenge Las Vegas, Nevada, USA TKO (corner stoppage/low kicks) 7 44-1-1
Defends WMAC World light-welterweight title. Later recognized as ISKA Oriental rules World light-welterweight (-64.5kg) title.
1990-07-07 Win United States Lafayette Lawson K.I.C.K. event at Caesars Palace Las Vegas, Nevada, USA Decision (unanimous) 12 2:00 41-1-1
Defends K.I.C.K. Intercontinental Super Lightweight title.
1990-06-16 Win Thailand Sagat Petchyindee Sydney, Australia Decision (unanimous) 11 2:00
Defends K.I.C.K. Intercontinental Super Lightweight title.
1989-1990 Win United States Juan Torres Hollywood, California, USA Decision (unanimous) 11 2:00
Defends K.I.C.K. Intercontinental Super Lightweight title.
1989-07-31 Win Japan Asuka Nobuya Hollywood, California, USA Decision (unanimous) 11 2:00
Defends K.I.C.K. Intercontinental Super Lightweight title.
1989-06-06 Win Thailand Prasert Kittikasem 1st IMF World Championships Anaheim, California, USA Decision (unanimous) 5 3:00
Wins the inaugural IMF World light-welterweight title.
1988-09-10 Draw Thailand Sagat Petchyindee Anaheim, California, USA Decision (split) 5 3:00
1988-08-15 Win Tijuana, Mexico
1987- Win United States Ken Ahate Yuma, Arizona, USA
1986-11-24 Loss France Richard Sylla Paris, France Decision 12 2:00
Loses the WKA World Kickboxing Super Lightweight title.
1986-11-01 Win Japan Okubo Yuma, Arizona, USA
1986-10-25 Win United Kingdom Lance Lewis London, England
1986-06-28 Win United States Pat Romero Reno, Nevada, USA Decision 12 2:00
Wins WKA World Kickboxing Super Lightweight title.
1986-05-23 Win United States Yohan Kim San Jose, California, USA
1986-02-28 Win United States Phil Holdridge Hollywood, California, USA KO (body shot) 3 1:29 28-0
Defends WKA World Kickboxing Lightweight title.
1985-11-15 Win United States Jeff Ortzow Tijuana, Mexico
1985-10-04 Win United States Angel Gutierez Tijuana, Mexico
1985-04-06 Win United States Robert Visitacion Northridge, California, USA
1984-10-13 Win United States Matt Moncayo Los Angeles, California USA
1984-07-27 Win Thailand Khaosod Sitpraprom Los Angeles, California, USA Decision (unanimous) 5 3:00
1984-06-01 Win United States Charlie Gallegos Edmonton, Canada
1984-03-24 Win Canada Tom Larouche Vancouver, Canada
1984-02-24 Win Thailand Janrob Muangsurin Hollywood, California, USA KO (high kick)
1983-07-01 Win United States Dave Johnston USA
1982-09-06 Win United States Rod Kei Edmonton, Canada
1982-06-21 Win Canada Gordy Gong
1982-03-08 Win Fred Peraldo Edmonton, Canada
1981-08-10 Win United States Juan Torres Trail, British Columbia, Canada
1981-03-01 Win Canada Robillard Edmonton, Canada
1981-02-01 Win Canada Gordy Gong Vancouver, Canada TKO (doctor stoppage) 3
Cunningham's professional debut. Wins Western Canada super lightweight kickboxing title.
Legend:   Win   Loss   Draw/No contest   Notes

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 13. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  2. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 13. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  3. ^ Civilized Warring. Galt Publishing. 1993. p. 192. ISBN 0-9649331-0-1.
  4. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 13. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  5. ^ "Peter Cunningham Biography". Archived from the original on 2016-04-25.
  6. ^ Civilized Warring. Galt Publishing. 1996. p. 192. ISBN 0-9649331-0-1.
  7. ^ Civilized Warring. Galt Publishing. 1996. p. 192. ISBN 0-9649331-0-1.
  8. ^ Civilized Warring. Galt Publishing. 1996. p. 192. ISBN 0-9649331-0-1.
  9. ^ Civilized Warring. Galt Publishing. 1996. p. 192. ISBN 0-9649331-0-1.
  10. ^ Civilized Warring. Galt Publishing. 1996. p. 192. ISBN 0-9649331-0-1.
  11. ^ "Peter Cunningham IMDB". IMDb.
  12. ^ "Peter Cunningham IMDB". IMDb.
  13. ^ "Peter Cunningham IMDB". IMDb.
  14. ^ "Peter Cunningham IMDB". IMDb.
  15. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 135. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  16. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 135. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  17. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 135. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  18. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 135. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  19. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 135. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  20. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 135. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  21. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 148. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  22. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. pp. 135/136. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  23. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 136. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  24. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 136. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  25. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 136. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  26. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 136. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  27. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. pp. 136/137. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  28. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 137. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  29. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 137. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  30. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 137. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  31. ^ Cunningham, Peter; Long, Nancy Lee De (2013). Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. p. 149. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  32. ^ "Remembering the time Muhammad Ali fought Oilers tough guy Dave Semenko".
  33. ^ Cunningham, Peter; Long, Nancy Lee De (2013). Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. p. 150. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  34. ^ "Peter Cunningham IMDB". IMDb.
  35. ^ "Peter Cunningham IMDB". IMDb.
  36. ^ "Peter Cunningham IMDB". IMDb.
  37. ^ "Peter Cunningham IMDB". IMDb.
  38. ^ "Peter Cunningham IMDB". IMDb.
  39. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 148. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  40. ^ Civilized Warring. Galt Publishing. 1995. p. 4. ISBN 0-9649331-0-1.
  41. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 2. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  42. ^ Testimonials of a Legendary Champion. NLD Co. 2013. p. 138. ISBN 978-1494325558.
  43. ^ Civilized Warring. Galt Publishing. 2015. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-9649331-0-1.
  44. ^ Civilized Warring. Galt Publishing. 1995. p. 192. ISBN 0-9649331-0-1.
  45. ^ Jeffrey, Douglas (April 1994). ""The Jet" nearly shotdown in "farewell" fight". Black Belt Magazine: 22. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  46. ^ Civilized Warring. Galt Publishing. 1995. p. 192. ISBN 0-9649331-0-1.
  47. ^ Civilized Warring. Galt Publishing. 1995. p. 192. ISBN 0-9649331-0-1.
  48. ^ "Peter Cunningham Biography". Archived from the original on 2016-04-25.