Action Martial Arts Magazine Hall of Honors coming to Atlantic City

Posted: January 24, 2013

ATLANTIC CITY'S Tropicana Casino Resort might be the safest place on earth this weekend. That's where hundreds of martial artists and fighters - including dozens of legends, champions and all-time greats - will gather for the Hall of Honors, "the largest martial arts event of its kind," said organizer Alan Goldberg, publisher of Action Martial Arts Magazine.

"The greatest thing about it is we have probably the top martial arts people and champions at one time coming to our event," he said. That would include the legendary Cynthia Rothrock, Don "The Dragon" Wilson and Bill "Superfoot" Wallace, to name a few.

Rothrock, who was born in Wilmington, Del., has been dubbed the "female Bruce Lee" by some. She is a five-time World Karate Champion in forms and weapons and is probably the most prolific martial arts/action movie actress, having starred in 43 films, among them "China O'Brien." She's a black belt (or the equivalent) in six karate styles.

Rothrock will sign autographs, sell merchandise and do a karate seminar during the annual Atlantic City event, which she said she wouldn't miss. "People may make business deals here, or there's people in the movie industry that will come here and cast people. It's a big network of everything: fun, knowledge and business. In short, this is just the place to be."

Asked for details on her seminar, she said in an interview that she'd survey the crowd and then decide. "If it's more guys, more women, a lot of kids, a mixture of people - I know so many different styles so I can teach so many things."

Bill "Superfoot" Wallace, a world full-contact karate champion and the World Middleweight Champion kickboxer for almost six years, is planning a seminar on flexibility and kicking.

"I'll be kicking people," Wallace said in an interview, laughing. "It'll make me feel good."

So who else is ready to kick some butt in Atlantic City this weekend? How about Don "The Dragon" Wilson, (considered by many to be the greatest kickboxer ever), Martin Kove ("The Karate Kid"); Grand Master Jason Lau; James Lew; former heavyweight boxing champion Ray Mercer; Master Phil Morris ("Seinfeld") and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa? Also expected are actor/martial artist Michael Jai White and wrestling legend - and just-announced WWE Hall of Famer - Bob Backlund.

The trade show will feature 90 vendors selling everything from weapons to clothes to merchandise. About 60 seminars are scheduled, all included in the $39 admission price, on topics that range from how to run a martial arts school to self-defense.

"At least 20 of those seminars are by world champions. It's not like we got a bunch of guys from Jersey to do free seminars," Goldberg joked. "We're also doing a martial arts tournament that people can enter, a movie festival, the business festival and a wine and cheese party on Friday night."

There's also a banquet and awards ceremony fans have nicknamed "the Academy Awards of martial arts," Goldberg said. All seats are already taken for the Saturday night event.

The film festival will include clips from Kevin Sorbo's recent film work and "Hercules: Legendary Journeys" TV episodes that featured Cynthia Rothrock.

Humble beginnings

There's no question this is a major event in the martial arts world, but it didn't start out that way.

Goldberg began Action Martial Arts Magazine 22 years ago with a focus on New York City. The magazine's popularity grew, but about 13 years ago advertising began to drop off and Goldberg looked around for other ways to "make this work."

He was friends with then-Tropicana President Dennis Gomes, and he "asked me if I wanted to rent this room the size of a football field for an event to help promote the magazine. I looked at him and I laughed."

But the room size could be adjusted as needed, so Goldberg decided to take a chance. "Two months later, we filled the room up . . . and I was blown away. But the magazine had built a reputation for quality and people obviously responded to that."

The event attracts about 1,200 people and some years turns hundreds away, he said.

Hall of Honors also brings people to the Tropicana and Atlantic City during the slow, cold winter season, Goldberg noted. He recalled a Tropicana executive's remark that "he had never seen such energy at an event [at the Tropicana], with no fights, no egos."

"Of course," Goldberg added, "this is probably the worst event you could possibly pick to get drunk and want to start a fight anyway."

Action Martial Arts Magazine Hall of Honors, Tropicana Casino Resort, 2831 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, N.J., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, $39 (two-day pass), 917-873-5963,

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