INTERNATIONAL SPORTS HALL OF FAME AWARDS
Saturday, March 5, 2022 | Arnold Sports Festival, Columbus, Ohio
Grand Master Ron Van Clief – 5X World Karate Champion
GM Ron “The Black Dragon” Van Clief is a martial arts legend who started martial arts training in his early teens. Ron Van Clief served in the U.S. Marines from 1960 to 1965 with a tour in the Vietnam War in the year 1965. Following his military service, he became a New York City Transit Police Officer.
Ron went on to become 5X Karate and Kungfu World Champion and a 15X All-American Champion. He has competed in both full-contact and non-contact karate tournaments in New York and several national tournaments.
His martial arts training began in the mid-1950s, where he later trained alongside Bruce Lee in Hong Kong and was nicknamed, “The Black Dragon”. Van Clief was a student of Goju-Ryu Masters Peter Urban, Frank Ruiz, and Moses Powell, as well as WingTsun founder Leung Ting Modern Arnis (Remy Presas) Brazilian jiu-jitsu (Joe Moreira).
On December 16, 1994, he competed in the 4th Ultimate Fighting Championship at age 51 against Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion Royce Gracie.
Van Clief is an author and creator of several instructional books and video recordings, as well as a film choreographer and actor appearing in several films. Ron continues to conduct seminars and attend training with his son in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is still actively competing in champions as he approaches 80 yrs.
Vinney Paz – 5X World Boxing Champion
In the 1980s, Vinney Paz built a reputation along the East Coast, defeating such opponents as Melvin Paul (KO 2), Joe Frazier Jr. (TKO 7), Harry Arroyo (UD 10), Nelson Bolanos (TKO 6), and Roberto Elizondo (KO in 10). His first world title fight came on June 7, 1987, where he outpointed Greg Haugen over 15 rounds to become the IBF world lightweight champion. The pair would meet two more times: Haugen recovering the title in an immediate rematch and Pazienza prevailing in a 10-round decision in their rubber match in 1990.
In 1991, Pazienza moved into the junior middleweight division. This movement was at the advice of his new trainer Kevin Rooney. In his first fight at junior middleweight, he won the USBA championship against Ron Amundsen in a 12-round decision. He defeated the WBA World Jr. Middleweight Champion Gilbert Delé with a 12th-round TKO, becoming the second fighter in boxing history to win both the Lightweight and Junior Middleweight World Championships.
Pazienza was forced to relinquish the title due to a serious car accident in which his neck was broken. He was scheduled for a Jan 10 title defense against Pat Lawlor in Atlantic City but it was called off. Doctors informed him he might never walk again and would certainly never fight again. Pazienza had to wear a medical device called a Halo, a circular metal brace screwed into the skull in four spots and propped up with four metal rods. He had the Halo screwed to his skull for three months, during which time he maintained a workout regimen against doctors’ orders. He returned to the ring thirteen months after the accident and defeated future WBC World Jr. Middleweight Champion Luis Santana by a 10-round decision.
After the Santana fight, Pazienza went on to defeat Brett Lally by a 6th-round TKO, and then, in another TKO, former World Champion Lloyd Honeyghan in the 10th round. Pazienza went on to win the vacant IBO Middleweight World title in 1993 with an 11th-round KO over Dan Sherry. Pazienza then went on to beat Roberto Durán twice, both via unanimous decision, with the IBC Super Middleweight title on the line both times. In 1996, Pazienza inflicted then-prospect Dana Rosenblatt’s only loss (a knockout in four rounds) to win the vacant WBU Super Middleweight World Championship.
In early 2001, Pazienza legally changed his last name to Paz. In 2004, Paz fought in his last fight, defeating Tocker Pudwill via a 10-round unanimous decision. His record stands at 50–10, with 30 wins by knockout and five World Titles (the IBF Lightweight Championship, WBA Jr. Middleweight Championship, IBO Super Middleweight Championship, IBC Super Middleweight Championship, and the WBU Super Middleweight Championship). He also won the USBA title.
Frank Shamrock – 4X UFC Middleweight Champion
Shamrock was named "Fighter of The Decade" for the 1990s by the Wrestling Observer, "Best Full Contact Fighter" by Black Belt Magazine (1998), and 3x "Fighter of the Year" by Full Contact Fighter Magazine. He is a Seventh-Degree Black Belt in submission fighting, awarded by O-Sensei Philip S. Porter of the United States Martial Arts Association.
Shamrock was the first to hold the UFC Middleweight Championship (later renamed the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship) and retired a four-time defending undefeated champion.
Shamrock was the No. 1 ranked pound-for-pound UFC fighter in the world during his reign as the UFC Middleweight Champion. Shamrock has won numerous titles in other martial arts organizations, including the interim King of Pancrase, WEC Light Heavyweight Championship, and Strikeforce Middleweight Championship.
Shamrock is widely regarded as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time, as well as one of the first complete mixed martial artists, adapting his game from a grounded style of fighting to a more complete, well-rounded, and versatile style that included always improving striking to go along with his skilled ground game.
He is the adopted brother of Ken Shamrock. An author, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and social activist, he also was a Color Commentator for Showtime Networks, Bellator MMA, Glory Kickboxing, and Combate Americas. Shamrock has been a brand spokesman for Strikeforce, VAS, UFC, and K-1 MMA and has advised on over 4.5 billion dollars in assets.
Stipe Miocic – 6X UFC Heavyweight Champion
Stipe Miocic is an American professional mixed martial artist. He was signed to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he competed in the heavyweight division and is a former two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion. He is widely regarded by critics, commentators, and media as the greatest UFC heavyweight fighter of all time. As of August 9, 2021, he was #2 in the UFC heavyweight rankings. and as of January 24, 2021, he is #10 in the UFC men's pound-for-pound rankings.
Having successfully defended his title four times during his two title reigns, he holds the record for most wins in heavyweight title fights along with the longest title defense streak in the heavyweight division, at three consecutive defenses. Miocic holds the record for fight-night bonus awards, with nine, the most in the UFC heavyweight division's history.
Prior to his MMA career, Miocic was a former Golden Gloves boxing champion and NCAA Division I, wrestler, at Cleveland State University.
On June 14, 2011, it was announced that Miocic had signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC and went on the numerous defenses of his World Title as one of the greatest Heavy Weights of all time.
Burt Watson – Boxing Manager / MMA Coordinator
A career in Boxing and MMA that began more than forty years ago, Burt Watson has served in a host of positions with some of Boxing’s and MMA's most recognized names. As a consultant, advisor, promoter, and event coordinator, Burt has coordinated and been a part of some of the most unforgettable events ever seen in both Boxing, UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), and MMA.
Burt served as business manager to the legendary ”Smokin Joe Frazier”. Handling all aspects of administrative support from contract negotiations and personal appearances to television interviews and public relations. During his stint with the Frazier organization, Burt honed his managerial and event coordination skills. He quickly became one of the industry's most sought-after event coordinators. Burt’s skills as a coordinator quickly took him to the four corners of the globe working on notable projects and coordinating historical Boxing events.
Burt was eventually asked by ION Pictures, the producers of the Champions Forever video project, to lead a two-year, three-continent promotional tour working with Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, George Foreman, and Ken Norton. While on tour, Burt had his hands in the coordinating of all public relations, personal appearances, and promotional stops, all the while balancing the needs and personalities of the most legendary diverse group of athletes ever assembled. During the return to the ring of Mike Tyson and the legendary career of Oscar De La Hoya, Burt served as camp coordinator for many of their fights, preparing all budgetary and operational elements for the safety and comfort of those legends and later others legends as Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Hector Camacho, Julio Chavez, Roy Jones, Bernard Hopkins, Michael Spinx, Arturo Gatti, Zab Judah, Evander Holyfield, Wladimir Klitschko, Vatili Klitschko, and many others. During this time he worked as an Independent site coordinator for some of boxing’s most notable promoters, including Don King, Lou Duva, Lou Di Bella, Butch Lewis, Mike Acri, Frank Warren Sports of London, Joe DiGuardia & Bob Arum/Top Rank.
While earning extensive television relationships, Burt has also organized championship fights and boxing events on such networks as ESPN, Showtime, HBO, Univision, Sky Sports, CBS, ABC, NBC, SPIKE, Combate, and FOX. Adding to an impressive list of boxing events, in 2001 Burt was introduced to UFC President Dana White who introduced Burt into MMA and the UFC. Burt went on and became the primary force and coordinator for the UFC Ultimate Fighting Championship on its televised TV and Pay-Per-View events while becoming a legend and a stable influence in the sport's history of MMA. In 2006 while being the primary site coordinator and Fighter handler for all Fighters, Burt was asked to bring his skills and experience as a coordinator for the televised Telemundo airing of the Latin Billboards award shows.
In February of 2015 the "Fighters Only Magazine" which is the worldwide, national MMA publication, awarded Burt Watson with its Life Time Achievement Award for his years of work, loyalty, and contributions to the growth and development of MMA and combat sports. Burt also Host and created a Podcast Series on the MMA Junkie / USA Today network titled “Legend 2 Legend”. The format is an “OG” conversation with such legends as Royce Gracie, Uriah Faber, Randy Couture, Chael Sonnen, Glover Teixeira, Vitor Belfort, Rampage Jackson, Matt Hughes, and most recently George St Pierre. During that conversation, they discuss Life, Family, Career, and a host of things fans would never get to hear. Mostly based on his past working experience with each individual. Tune in to the website https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com for “Legend 2 Legend”.
Burt has joined The Bellator MMA organization in its very successful operations as a major force in combat sports and the ShowTime TV Network. While enjoying his work and time with Bellator MMA, Burt is still enjoying his passion and creating his Legacy as well as mentoring and motivational speaking.
Shannon Knapp – Founder Invicta Fighting Championships
Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp is a longtime veteran of the combat sports world. During her 20-plus years in the industry, she has held roles with the UFC, Affliction, Strikeforce, the IFL, WFA, King of the Cage, and SportFight.
A former self-defense instructor, Knapp entered the world of mixed martial arts (MMA) intent on changing the landscape for its athletes. Through her experience and industry knowledge, Knapp formed a vision of a major platform for professional female fighters to hone their skills consistently. This vision became a reality in 2012 with the creation of Invicta Fighting Championships, the world’s premier combat sports organization for women.
After nearly a decade of operation under Knapp’s leadership, Invicta FC continues to pioneer the growth of women’s MMA by promoting the best possible matchups and developing future superstars of the sport. With Invicta FC, Knapp continues to innovate, becoming the first major MMA organization in North America to utilize open scoring and paying homage to the sport’s roots with a one-night tournament format. Her visionary mindset continues to carry both Invicta FC and the sport to new heights.
HRH Prince Gharios – Martial Artist & Humanitarian
His Royal Highness Prince Gharios is the Sovereign Prince of the Arab Dynasty of the Ghassanids, writer, scholar, humanitarian, artist, and Master of martial arts.
Prince Gharios is internationally recognized as the heir of the Ghassanid Dynasty, descendant and heir of Christian Arab Kings, Byzantine Emperors, and also from the Lebanese Sheiks Chemor. His ascendants ruled from biblical times in Yemen until 1747 CE in Lebanon. The titles of the El Chemor family were recognized by the Ottoman empire until its end (1924 CE) and also by the Lebanese Republic until the present date. The family's history was kept and validated for centuries by the Maronite Church under the Holy See (Vatican) and the authority of the Pope. For 30 years The Prince has been a martial arts practitioner, holding the 5th degree of black belt in Aikido and recently promoted to 8th Dan by the Japan Budo Association, also holding black belts in Karate and Kobudo (ancient Japanese weapons). He also practiced Judo, Kung fu, Jiu-jitsu, Fencing, and Silat.
Very active in the film industry, in 2013 was appointed as a Board Member for the Monaco Film Festival. In 2015, was named a Member of the Honorary Committee of the Asian World Film Festival. In 2014, received the United States Special Congressional Recognition and was invested as a Knight of the Pope (Vatican) in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, one of the oldest, most respected, and recognized Orders of Chivalry in the world. In 2017, he received the US Presidential Award for Volunteer Service, his second United States Special Congressional Recognition, and also the title of Goodwill Ambassador.
In 2019, was promoted to "Knight Commander" in the Papal Chivalric Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. In the same year, the Royal House of Ghassan was officially recognized by the Government of the Lebanese Republic by Presidential Decree. In 2020, was inducted in the Martial Arts Hall of Honors and in 2021 have received the “Action on Film ICON award”, received by action stars like Michael Jay White, David Carradine, Jeff Speakman, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock, amongst others.
The Prince is fluent in four languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian and also speaks basic Japanese, French, and Arabic. His humanitarian and charitable works are recognized globally.