1992 Black Belt Magazine Full Contact Fighter
Few people can make Bill Wallace admit that he’s stuck his “Superfoot” in his supermouth. Kickboxing champion Kathy Long is one of them.
Wallace slammed women’s kickboxing as “a novelty,” referred to women’s matches as “not real fights,” and chided five-time champion Long for “not having knockout power.” But after the blonde bombshell pummeled Kyoko Kamikaze last year (1992) at the World Martial Arts Challenge in Las Vegas, breaking the Japanese fighter’s ribs and bruising her kidneys, Wallace became a believer in Long’s skills. “She went out there and looked really good,” the gallant Wallace wrote in his monthly BlackBelt column before later apologizing to Long in person. “It is a slap in my own face . . . but that was a good fight.”
Long, the renowned “Princess of Pain,” has no grudge against her fellow fighter, to be sure, but it’s illustrative of Long’s power that she could change the mind of even hardcore nay-sayers, who believed that women should step through the ropes only as ring girls. (On another historical note, Long has championed the introduction of “ring boys” for her fights.)
Other female champions paved the way for Long’s acceptance in the fight game, but Long used her stunning looks to get spectators’ attention, and then kept it with a blend of ferocity, power and skilled technique once a bout began. In the long run, however, she’s not out to promote women’s kickboxing; she just loves to kickbox. She likes the opportunity to go full-out against an opponent, and she enjoys winning which she has done in 18 of her 20 fights. Her obvious enthusiasm has brought a new audience to the sport, increasing ticket sales whenever she’s on the card.
As a result, she’s brought kickboxing as a whole both women’s and men’s fights more mainstream publicity than male champions Dennis Alexio and Jean-Yves Theriault combined. She has appeared on numerous television shows and in publications ranging from People magazine to a full-color layout in the National Enquirer. For people who want to see full-contact kickboxing get off the mat, Long is literally worth her weight in gold.
Long brought out her entire arsenal of techniques against Kamikaze at the World Martial Arts Challenge. Black Belt reported that Long “aggressively stalked the shorter Kamakaze and tagged her repeatedly with rights, lefts, roundhouse kicks, and an occasional front kick.” Without going into the faults of the evening’s other fights, suffice to say that Long held up kickboxing’s honor. What could have been a total loss wasn’t, because Long came out of her corner with guns blazing.
Now Long, Black Belt’s 1991 Woman of the Year, is at the forefront of professional women’s kickboxing. She holds four world-championship belts, and she’s paid for every one with sweat. She trains regularly against male sparring opponents, runs stairs with a 150-pound partner on her shoulders, and has folded many a heavy bag with her side kick. Her protruding biceps and washboard stomach are testimony not only to her dedication to training, but to the workout that trainer and manager Eric Nolan has devised for her.
Perhaps the only disconcerting aspect of this tale is that it’s anyone’s guess how much longer Long will stay in kickboxing. Hollywood has already begun to make Long pleasing offers of well-deserved fame and fortune. After gaining notice in the movie industry by performing the fight scenes for Michelle (Catwoman) Pfeiffer in Batman Returns, Long no longer has to double for anyone. She is the star of the film Knights, with Kris Kristofferson, which was due out in January, and has been appearing virtually every week on a talk or news show. If she does continue in kickboxing, be sure that her fighting price has gone up.
But whether duking it out in the ring, or bringing martial arts to the public eye aka Jean-Claude Van Damme, Long has helped kickboxing gain attention worldwide. For that, she is deserving of Black Belt’s 1992 Full-Contact Fighter of the Year award.
1991 Woman of the Year
Question: What’s black and blue and red all over? Answer: Kathy Long’s latest opponent.
Make no mistake: Long is not short on kickboxing talent. She is tough, and justifiably proud of it. Referred to as the “Punisher,” the “Queen of Mean” and the “Princess of Pain,” Long’s caustic kicks and pummeling punches make even the heartiest opponents flinch as they climb into the ring. What’s more, her technique and determination demanded and receive respect outside the ropes, from promoters and spectators who used to think of women’s full-contact kickboxing as a novelty act. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, the 26-year-old, 122-pound champion has a record of 15-1-1, with five knockouts. A seven-year black belt, the hard-hitting Long surprisingly began her martial arts training in the soft style of aikido, then went on to study shorin-ryu karate, and later kung fu. Growing disdainful of tournament-style point fighting, which she calls “tag,” she decided to try full-contact karate literally on the spur of the moment when a 195-pound competitor challenged her to a demonstration bout in 1984. “Call me crazy, stupid, or both,” says Long, who had just nine days to prepare for the fight. “I thought it would be fun to try.”
Admittedly “scared to death” as she entered the ring, and in spite of suffering a split lip during the proceedings, the Bakersfield, California, resident soon impressed even herself as she kickboxed an opponent around the ring who out-weighed her by 70 pounds, a feat Long admits was “pretty amazing.”
Inspired, Long trained specifically for kickboxing, progressing to the World Kai rate Association and Karate International Council of Kickboxing (KICK) feather-weight titles, and the International Sport Karate Association and KICK bantam-weight titles. In the last two years, she has won 15 unanimous decisions against only one loss, a controversial decision to a Thai-style fighter in a bout shortened to three rounds.
Long credits much of her success to a back-breaking training schedule so rigorous that the battle’s half won when she steps into the ring. A typical workout includes running bleachers, grueling weigh/lifting, and focus-mitt and heavy-bag sessions augmented by 12 rounds of sparring a day against four rotating partners generally men.
Once in the ring, Long relies on her natural power and speed. Although the talented southpaw may toy with an opponent during an exhibition match her opponent wearing the haggard look of a mouse being batted about by a cat she’ll cut like an executioner when the fight’s for real. Her kicks and punches are delivered with both ferocity and pinpoint accuracy, and it’s not uncommon to see her opponent’s head snap back amidst a spray of sweat as Long connects with yet another blow.
Now with Hollywood beckoning (Long is presently training and doubling for Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns), there are cinematic fights in Long’s future. As usual, she’s well-prepared. When her punches don’t floor you, her drop-dead good looks will, and she’s got the intelligence to match. Expressing her opinions with insight and confidence, she backs up her bravado with superb fighting form. It’s no wonder that Kathy Long is arguably the most popular kickboxer on the circuit today regardless of gender and possibly the best female kickboxer ever. And it’s no wonder that she has been named Black Belt’s 1991 Woman of the Year.
Titles and Honors
Bob Ellas Kern County Sports Hall of Fame
World Title, WMAC
Kickboxer of the Year, Black Belt Hall of Fame
Female of the Year, Inside Kung Fu Hall of Fame
World Title, ISKA
Woman of the Year, Black Belt Hall of Fame
World Title, WKA
World Titles (2) KICK
Films and Television
Romy & Michelle, Featured
Walker, Texas Ranger, Guest Star
Under the Gun, Co-Lead
Today Show, Guest
The Stranger, Lead
Vicki Lawrence, Guest
Montel Williams, Guest
Natural Born Killers, Featured
Street Justice, Guest Star
Batman Returns, Stunt & Fight Double
Entertainment Tonight, Featured
Death Becomes Her, Fight Choreographer
Ultimate Fight Challenge, Color Commentator
George Michael’s Sports Machine, Featured
Grand Marnier, Commercial Lead
El Entertainment News, Featured
articles courtesy of Black Belt Magazine