2008-06-13 / Sports

First Ever Championship Karate Tournament At World's Most Famous Arena Wins Gold Medal

A memorable event took place on Sunday, May 18 when the first ever Karate tournament was held on the main floor of Madison Square Garden.

Many Karate tournaments have been held next door at the Felt Forum, which is now called the WAMU Theatre, but never has an event been celebrated on the same floor as the mecca of basketball.

Sensei Bruce Hodes, founder of the World Champions Karate Center, was one of the organizers for the "The Championship at Madison Square Garden. Being on the main floor was very exciting for Hodes. "It was a certainly a thrilling feeling to stand and compete on the floor where so much greatness has occurred," Hodes said.

"I called it the 'The Championship at Madison Square Garden', so all would know this event took place in the most famous venue on the planet. Everyone had the opportunity to be on the floor. In fact, it was open seating, so spectators were offered seating right at courtside."

The AAU sanctioned event took place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. before the start of the New York Liberty WNBA home opener, which occurred later in the afternoon.

The male grand championship was seen by a packed Garden prior to tipoff of the Liberty vs. Connecticut Sun basketball game.

The event drew competitors 12 and up, and ranging from brown and black belt from throughout the metropolitan area.

The World Champion Karate team fielded at a team of 14 competitors; Madison Arrowood, Joelle Burgess, Alan Bouchaheem, Rhea Catwell, Diyanna Ceballos, Camaron Douglin, Shannon Edinboro, James Lopez, Hassan Mohammed, Kellianne O'Connor, Kimberly Oliphant, Justin Pine, Daniel Traver and James Traver.

The logistics of setting up on the floor of the World's Most Famous Arena, was mind boggling Hodes said. The planning of the event was months in the making, the commemorative medals had to prepared, and Barry Kraus, the in-house artist who is a green belt, did the art work.

Tickets had to be sold and tables and chairs had to be set. But in all, our many dojo volunteers, referees, and judges made this event a successful venture. Madison Square Garden has said it would like to host the second annual event next year.

For those who would like to take part in Karate close to home, visit the World Champions Karate Center at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive.

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