Tommy "Bee" Bottone
what do you do if you are a tough and talented top ranked kick boxing contender who desperately wants a title shot, but you
are not getting enough publicity to attract the necessary attention? Well if you are
Tommy Bee Battone, the current holder of six world kickboxing middleweight championships, you build the event and the fans
and promoters will come. That is exactly what Tommy did when he and his brother John,
a police officer, created the phenomenally popular New York Ring of Fire fighting event in 1998.
From his home in Middle Island, New York, where Tommy, a 34-year-old native of the Bronx,
is presently in training to defend his USKBA super Middleweight Championship against Tony TNT Ventura, he recalls how the
Ring of Fire came to be, I was calling everybody, but no-one was calling back, until finally someone told me that I should
throw my own boxing show to prove that I had a following.
Now Middle Island is not exactly the hotbed of east coast kickboxing. According to Tommy, the only possible entertainment venues for a fight show in his little country town were the
deli, the bar, the pizza parlor or the firehouse. Tommy chose the firehouse and then
started promoting himself and his show.
Just as he was starting to think of ways to promote his show, Tommy got knocked down with
one of lifes most brutal uppercuts when he found out that his childhood friend, Cindy Quinn, had been murdered. She was the sweetest person in the world, everybody loved her, said Tommy as fondly described his friend who
was survived by her two children and her husband Brian, who is one of Johns best friends.
It is just unbelievable that something like this could happen in a town like this where everybody literally knows everybody.
Tommy and John decided to dedicate the show to Cindy and to give the money they raised
to her family. They came to see Tommy and to honor Cindy, with more than 1,000 people
filling the old firehouse. As a result Tommy and John promoted Ring of Fire 2 and in the crowd that night was well known
east coast kick boxing promoter Lewis Leglia, who was impressed enough to offer Tommy a title shot a few months later against
the same Tony TNT Ventura that he will fight again in six weeks. Tommy went on to win
a 10 round decision against Ventura, and has never relinquished the championship belt since, defending it successfully 9 times.
However, Tommy was already well known as fighter in Middle Island, but not for the kind
of fighting that he is proud of today. Tommy was fighting on the streets, a self-described
hoodlum who was constantly in and out of trouble with the law.
gave my parents so many sleepless nights, remembers a remorseful Tommy. My parents had one good son that was a policeman,
and another one bad one who was being chased by the police. In fact, the night before
he walked into his first martial arts dojo Tommy was in jail for fighting.
Tommy remembers vividly his introduction to the martial arts. As I was putting gas in my car I looked across the street and I see this little guy beating up all these big
guys through the window of this karate school, recalls Tommy. Well I had to get a closer
look at this, so I went over to the school and watched for a while, and when there was a break I went up to the little guy
and told him that I wanted to come and fight in his school. The little guy, who turned
out to be kung fu master Sifu Moses Arocho, told Tommy that before he could start fighting he would have to learn this ancient
Chinese style. To which Tommy bluntly responded, I dont want to do no dancing, I just
want to fight.
Unable to discourage or dissuade the confident Tommy, Sifu Arocho invited him to come
back the next day and test his street techniques against some world-class martial artists who were visiting from South America. Tommy came and he conquered with just his raw unsophisticated skills and tremendous heart. I took on everybody and showed them what I could do, said Tommy. A few weeks later, Sifu Arocho decided to put his prize pupil to the test against a much more experienced martial
artist at an exhibition. The fight ended quickly after Tommy dislocated the other fighters
hip, and a local hero was born.
When Tommy started fighting he had to overcome the tremendous disadvantage
of being unable to kick. When I was born both of my feet turned in so they had to break
both of my legs, then when I was six the problem returned so they had to break both of my legs again., recalls Tommy. I can still remember having both legs in casts and my Dad having to carry me up several
flights of stairs to our apartment. But Tommys leg troubles were not over. When I was 14-yearold, I broke one of legs again in a motorcycle accident, and then I broke the other one the
next year in a street fight. Amazing, through his remarkable dedication and discipline
Tommy is now feared for his great kicking ability.
For as long as he can remember Tommy has always been a fighter. I just love to fight, said the surprisingly funny and easy going Tommy. My
favorite boxers were Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard because they were so fast and had such command of the ring. My martial art heroes are Chuck Norris, WorldBlackBelts First Founding Member, Bob Wall, the President and CEO
of WorldBlackBelt, and Don Wilson, WorldBlackBelt Founding Member. These guys are just
phenomenal fighters, but they are still so humble and kind.
A few months ago, one of Tommys
dreams became a reality when he was asked to appeared on the now famous Legends episode
of Norris Walker, Texas Ranger television show along with Bob Wall and WorldBlackBelt Founding Members Howard Jackson
and Cung Le. It was such an honor, said Tommy. At
first I was going to be one of the fighters on Chucks team, but later the producers called to ask me if I would be willing
to be one of the opponents who gets beat up, and I told them that Id be willing to be the water-boy if they would have me.
When he is not going through his grueling training routine, Tommy is teaching classes
at his successful fighting school in Yaphank. What I love most is teaching children
and women because frankly they listen better than the average tough who walks in my doors.
Not wanting to get stuck in one style, the multi-talented Tommy offers instruction in all fighting styles, including
kickboxing and grappling. Tommy a takes great pride in the fact that two of his students,
Keith Youngs and Dan Lucas, have already become USKBA world champions. Says Tommy of
Youngs, a 23-year-old southpaw, Ive become his punching bag.
So respected is Tommy as a trainer, the
USKBA named him the coach of their national team that went to fight in the Ukraine and in Greece. It
is interesting, but I never get nervous when I am fighting, but I get really nervous when I watch one of my students fight,
Tommy has certainly come along ways since his street fighting days in Yaphank, and his
only regret is that his father Tommy Sr. never got to see him realize the heights that he has, passing away a few months before
his first bout. However, Tommy takes comfort in knowing that his Dad is looking down
from above and taking great pride in his sons prolific accomplishments. What Tommy
looks forward to is helping others, remembering that the martial arts saved my life,
and now together with WorldBlackBelt we can save some others.
If you would like to contact Tommy Bottone you can reach him at email@example.com
To find out more out Tommy, visit his official website at Tommy "Bee" Bottone
To view past honoree click here.
By J.P. Koenig