Los Angeles, California via Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

FRIDAY, February 22nd, 2002, AT 12:30 PM, PT

A Champions Next Move...
A Look At What's Next For Kickboxing's True Heavyweight Gladiator!
Jason "Gladiator" Johnson

By Steve Fossum

If you've ever been to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA in December, you need to make sure you go to the East side of town and stand on the shore of Lake Michigan. To say it's a lake is deceiving because when you look out at the endless body of deep blue water, you don't see the other side. From this view, you might think your standing somewhere on a Northern coastline facing the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. The only thing that's missing is the giant waves breaking on the beach. What you will find though is a cold northern wind blowing in your face and maybe a little ice on the lake to add to its beauty. There is something about Wisconsin that has a certain mystic about it. High up in Central America it gets plenty of northern winds from Canada. Over the years it's been recognized as being the home of great American things like Harley Davidson, Miller Beer and of course don't forget, this IS Packer Country! Wisconsin is the home of The NFL Football team, the Green Bay Packers. A team filled with a strong tradition of winning behind great stars such as Bart Starr or Brett Favre lead by great leaders such as Vince Lombardi and Mike Holmgren. However to us here at the IKF and many in the world of kickboxing, Wisconsin is known for another Great American venture and it can be summed up in 2 words, "Gladiator Kickboxing!"

On Sunday night September 6th, 1998 in Beloit Wisconsin, there was a Gladiator in the making. It was the first time a fighter by the name of Jason stepped into a kickboxing ring for his first real fight. It was bout 7 and when the fight was over, Jason had recorded his first of many wins over a fighter named Jack Lagrange of Dubuque Iowa by split decision.

It was on a cold December weekend in Milwaukee Wisconsin when I first met this young Gladiator. It would be on a Saturday night, December 5th, 1998 where I would see him fight for the first time. His bout was overshadowed by other seasoned Gladiators of the sport who would take the spotlight on this night, but Jason's night would come... On the night, IKF Promoter Duke Roufus won the vacant IKF Pro MuayThai Rules Super Heavyweight World Title over Hirawa TeRangi of Auckland, New Zealand. Before his win, Richard Kostuck had successfully defended his IKF Pro MuayThai Rules Junior Welterweight Intercontinental Title by defeating Sakasem for the second time in his career. On the undercard was once again Jason, a Heavyweight Muay Thai fighter who had been paired up against Mark Vinesbright of Indianapolis Indiana, USA. Vinesbright entered the ring chiselled like a video game warrior fighter showing more muscle rips and curves than The Hulk. However, it would be on this night that "The Hulk" would face "The Gladiator" and Vinesbright's perfect 6-0 record was on the line against Jason with a record of only 1 win and no loses. During the bout, Jason lasted Vinesbright's strong round 1 attack with Vinesbright taking round 1 on all 3 judges cards 10-9. However in round 2, "The Gladiator", Jason pressed the fight scoring with several "STRONG" knees to Vinesbright's face and chest. His attack forced a standing 8 count to Vinesbright who seemed winded from the attack. Jason moved ahead on the score cards from the 8 count as he won round 2. Still taken back from "The Gladiator" attack in round 2, "The Hulk" lost his wind early in round 3 and eventually, referee Al Wickers made the right decision and stopped the bout at 1:11 of round 3. It would be Jason's first TKO/KO win and he improved to 2-0 while Vinesbright lost for the first time in 7 bouts.

By the time the first IKF North Central Regional was promoted, Jason's trainers had already given him his first nickname, "The Roadblock!" At the Regional on April 17th, 1999 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Jason had registered to fight in the Heavyweight MuayThai class. He was 24 years old, 6' tall and 212 lbs with a fight record of 2 wins and no loses. However no one else entered at the weight so he was left without a fight. However, so was Light Cruiserweight MuayThai fighter Christian Toleque of Ohio. Both wanted some ring time and agreed to do an exhibition for the crowd. But hey...These 2 were BANGIN! What an EXHIBITION! Both fighters were undefeated, and neither wanted to give up any ground, even in an "Exhibition" bout where the fight wasn't judged. Instead, pride was on the line instead. Jason and Christian began working knee attacks like seasoned MuayThai warriors. Both fighters were big, ripped, and in great shape! In round 2, Jason caught a kick thrown by Christian and then went to work on his supporting leg. The crowd was really fired up, and so were the fighters! Jason unloaded a solid low kick followed by a well-timed right hand. Both these guys dug in deeply! By the time round 3 came around these two were into the battle. Jason was throwing some great punch-low kick combinations and followed up with knee attacks while Christian peppered back with swift jabs. Considering how hard both worked, one would never have guessed that this was an "exhibition, but now it was time for the Next Level for both to "Walk The Walk" at the first annual IKF USA National Championship Tournament in Council Bluffs Iowa.

Jason enter the National tournament as a Heavyweight with 3 other fighters in his division, Steve Bass, 4-2/2 of Omaha, Nebraska, Harvey Green of Camp Pendleton, CA and Jermaine Wilson 6-2/3 of Evansville, Indiana. However, Wilson never showed at the Nationals and during matchmaking, Jason got the bye in round 1 and Bass fought Green on Saturday. In their bout, Bass defeated Green easily by TKO at :51 of round 1 to advance to the final against Jason on Sunday. It was Bout 19 on the day for the USA National Title when Bass and Jason met. In the end, we would be sure to remember The Gladiator's last name this time more than his first. He made everyone remember who the new IKF USA National Amateur MuayThai Rules Heavyweight Champion was, it was Jason JOHNSON (Right after Nationals Win) as this soon to be Gladiator currently known as "The Roadblock" stopped traffic on Bass as he defeated him by TKO at 1:16 of round 3. National Article.

Although Johnson was scheduled to fight on Roufus' September 18th, "King Of The Ring" event, he was left without a bout when his opponent dropped out the week of the event. With 2 other fights on other events, Johnson had built a 5-0 record and was selected for the 1999 USA Amateur MuayThai Team to fight in the World Amateur MuayThai Championships in Bangkok, Thailand in December. In Thailand, the top favorites for Team USA were James Downey and Dan Rawlings. However in round 1, Downey lost a close decision in one of the most exciting bouts of the day against a Finland opponent. This was Downey's first loss ever added to his 11-1 record with 5 Knockouts.Rawlings also lost his first round match to an opponent from France by decision. With both out, it was up to Johnson to emerged as the New Star for Team USA instead.

Johnson won his first round bout by TKO in the second round against an opponent from Iran to advance to the Championship round to fight for the Gold Medal against an opponent from the Ukraine. On Saturday, December 11, 1999 in Thailand, Jason "Roadblock" Johnson won the World International Federation MuayThai Amateur (IFMA) Super Heavyweight Gold Medal with a second round TKO over his Ukrainian opponent. The win put Johnson's amateur record at 7 wins with no loses and 4 wins coming by KO/TKO.

Later that month in December, Johnson's trainer, Duke Roufus announced that both Johnson and Downey were turning Pro in 2000. Downey planned to make his Pro debut January 6, 2000 at the famous Rajadamnern Stadium in Bangkok on Phetnoi Promotions vs a Thai opponent. He's the first American fighter to appear at Rajadamnern. Johnson planned to make his Pro debut February 26th on one of Roufus' promotions in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

On Thursday, January 6, 2000, Johnson's team mate in Milwaukee, James "Knock`em Down" Downey did what no other American has ever done. Fighting in his professional debut at Bangkok's famous Rajadamnern Stadium, the 21 year old not only became the first American to ever fight at Rajadamnern, he also became the first American to win at Rajadamnern.Downey stopped Konsan T. Pitakgolghan who had 35 professional fights, midway through round 3.

Back in the states, Johnson would not make his Pro debut in Milwaukee as planned but instead, he would travel north to Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada to meet up with Wade Irwin of Sik Tai Muay Thai, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (11-5/4) on February 12th, 2000. In the bout Johnson went on to win his first Pro bout with a unanimous decision win, 49-46, 48-47 & 49-46.

Johnson's next entree into the Pro Ring was on April 1st, 2000 in Milwaukee where in bout 11 of the night he defeated Christian "King Cobra" Toleque (Indianapolis Siam) by Split Decision, 48-47, 47-48, 48-47 to improve to 9-0.

His next pro bout was in Milwaukee on May 6th, 2000 as the Main Event of the "MuayThai Madness" event. It was bout 13 and Johnson made his fans believe even more as he defeated Wade Irwin (Sik-Tai MuayThai) by TKO at 2:36 of Round 1.

Johnson Pounds Ford


Jeff Ford

Raul Romero Gonzalez

With a perfect record, it was time for Johnson to step up to the next level and the invitation to the K-1 USA event may have been another level, but maybe too big of a jump at the time. K-1 was no small time event. It was "The Show!" Johnson may have been ready for the fight itself, but the outside distractions of Las Vegas and the K-1 Media may have taken a bit of his focus away. It appeared so on Saturday night, August 5th when Tomasz Kucharzewski (6', 225 - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) quickly stopped Johnson by the hated K-1 2 knockdown rule at 56 seconds of the first round. It was a wake up call for Johnson who realized after this bout that there is always more to a fight than the fight in the ring. It would be a small mistake he would never make again.

Johnson next IKF sanctioned fight would be in February of 2001 when he entered the ring against Jeff Ford. The first round was punctuated by Johnson landing an impressive head kick, which dropped the ever-formidable Ford. Ford beat the standing eight count and continued to fight back, but Johnson's knee attacks and kicks prevented Ford from establishing a consistent offense.

Ford was valiant throughout the bout, but Johnson remained relentless, methodical (Right). The bout was rightfully ended in the third round by referee Al Wichers when Johnson was landing numerous kicks, punches, and knees on a seemingly unresponsive Ford.

Johnson's final fight in the ring was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA on the "HEAVYWEIGHT GLADIATORS" event. By now, Johnson had transformed from "The Roadblock" to "The Gladiator" and he was everything a Gladiator had to be. He was a fighting machine in a ripped and chiselled body with a fighting record to prove it of 14 wins, 1 loss and 11 wins by KO or TKO. He stood 6 feet tall and weighed in at 218 lbs. At the time, Johnson was ranked 7th in the world and big names ahead of him like IKF World Champion Matt Skelton followed by ranked fighters, Ernesto Hoost, Jerome LeBanner, Stefan Leko, Mike Bernardo, Francisco Filho, Peter Aerts, and his own trainer, Duke Roufus there was no shame or embarrassment to be in the 7th spot.

His bout was a Semi Main Event against Mexico star Raul Romero Gonzalez of Mexico City Mexico. In the ring the two looked like 2 chiselled male models ready for either a bodybuilding contest or a shot in GQ magazine. These two simply spell out the look of a Gladiator. Gonzalez weighed in at 229 lbs to Johnson's 218 lbs and probably had a combined body fat of 3%... if that. As the two met in the ring, few women wanted to see these faces get scared, but the truth is, these two are indeed true Gladiators, which is what they came into the ring on this night to be... GLADIATORS!

Johnson had the support of America's elite fighting military, the US Marines. Johnson himself was a Marine and proudly wore the Semper Fi (Always Faithful) label on his American Red White and Blue shorts (Right) It was as if Johnson carried America on his shoulders into this fight, and he had no desire to let America down. As round 1 got going Gonzalez started to score with knees to the body quite often but Johnson countered back with knees as well and when on the outside the two evenly exchanged punches and leg kicks. Then suddenly, like the dropping of an atomic bomb, Johnson lifted up his powerful right leg and landed it squarely on the side of Gonzalez' head (Left) dropping the big man to the canvas. The blow sent a thunderous ringing throughout Gonzalez' head and although he tried to shake it off he couldn't. He tried to stand but he seemed to be off balance and as he sat back down to the canvas, referee Al Wichgers waived the end of the bout. Johnson had scored an American victory at 1:33 of round 1.

Johnson had planned to fight again in Greece against one of the most famous heavyweights in Europe, Paris "GOLDEN GREEK" Vasilikos of Greece in December of 2001. The winner of the bout would get a shot at the World Title against IKF Super Heavyweight MuayThai World Champion Matt Skelton of England. However the acts of September 11th forced him and his trainer to re-think their desire to travel abroad and instead cancelled the bout. It was after this though that "The Gladiator" had caught the eyes of yet other admirers... The eyes of Hollywood... And with this calling, it was time for Johnson to move on to the "Next Step" or the "Next Level" of his life...

After discussing the opportunities he had with his trainer Duke Roufus they both agree he would step down as a fighter to engage in a new career. To Johnson, Kickboxing is not the end of his story, it was just a part of this Gladiators Life. Johnson moved to Las Vegas to be closer to those working with him now. In his off time, he decided to try out as another Gladiator, but this time in full attire working at Caesars as a Centurion Guard, also referred to as a "GLADIATOR". His jobs there are many which include working as a Doorman at their Shadow Bar. As Johnson put it in his own words, "As a "Gladiator" I have the opportunity to entertain hundreds of people everyday and put a smile on as many faces as I can. We stroll through the Casino and mall and do many special events as well." Along with the fun of working at Caesars he's also doing some modeling to gain more experience and exposure as well as being active in several acting classes a week. He currently has three acting coaches and a very good acting agent who is getting him a lot of castings for television and film. So far he's done one commercial with many more to come. "Kickboxing will always hold a special place in my heart." said Johnson. "I made more friends and got to do more with it than I had ever imagined. But, the book of my life is going to have many exciting chapters and it is time to turn the page onto the next one."

One thing that still continues today is the strong bond between coach and student. Their relationship though goes far beyond the coach and student level. Duke Roufus and Jason were true friends as well. "I have nothing but love for Duke Roufus, Scott Joffe and for every member of the team." Said Johnson, "They have done a great deal for me and I would do anything for them. They are a second family to me and we will always have a very close relationship."

Johnson's decision to leave Milwaukee had nothing to do with kickboxing at all actually, he just wanted to pursue a childhood dream which is acting. Johnson continued, "I have changed careers but my friendships with everyone at the gym will never change."

With that being said, we are confident that Jason has truly mastered being a Gladiator both in the ring and out and we are proud that we here at the IKF had the opportunity to be a part of his life as well as be able to call him a friend. We wish you the best in your future Champ, and remember, to us, you'll always be a Champion Gladiator! "Semper Fi!"

The following is Jason's bio from the Milwaukee Kickboxing website;

Jason Scott Johnson, nicknamed "Gladiator," was born in Janesville, Wisconsin on November 30, 1974. Johnson, 6' 0" and 212 lbs/95.4 kgs, is the 1999 World MuayThai Council ("W.M.C.") World Amateur Super Heavyweight Champion and the 1999 International Kickboxing Federation ("IKF") U.S. National Heavyweight Champion. His fight record is 15 wins, 1 loses with 11 KO's. He was a 1993 graduate of Martin Luther High School in Greenfield, Wisconsin where in his senior year of high school, he was the 1993 Wisconsin State Wrestling Champion at 189 lbs. He began training in MuayThai with Duke Roufus in April of 1998. A former Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps (Left) elite Recon Unit (1993-97), Johnson saw active duty overseeing peacekeeping efforts in Port au Prince, Haiti, (Right) worked security with the U.S. Border Patrol's Joint Task Force in Mexico and toured Scotland and England, where he trained with the prestigious British Royal Marines.

  • Kickboxing Coach/Head Kids Coach/Private Fitness Self-Defense (Hand-to-Hand Combat - Former Force Recon Marine) & Kickboxing Instructor/Diet & Personal Fitness Consultant - Certified by APEX Fitness Group
  • 1993: Wisconsin Inter Scholastic Athletic Association 189lb State Wrestling Champion - Oshkosh, WI
  • 1994: U.S.M.C. "Iron Man of Boot Camp" Winner - San Diego, CA
  • 1994-1996: Member of Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team - Norfolk, VA
  • 1995: Marine Corp Marathon participant - Washington, DC
  • 1996: Graduated "Airborne" School - Ft. Benning, GA
  • 1996: Promoted to member of U.S.M.C. elite "Force Recon" unit - Camp Lejuene, NC
  • 1999: W.M.C. World Amateur Super Heavyweight Champion - Bangkok, Thailand
  • 1999: IKF US Amateur Super Heavyweight Champion - Omaha, NB
  • 2000: Bangkok Brawl MMA Heavyweight Champion - Chicago, IL
  • 2000: K-1 USA Participant - The Bellagio, Las Vegas 2001: IKF Heavyweight Gladiators participant - Milwaukee, WI

2011: Jason has been driven by passion ever since he was introduced to fitness as a child. He loves to challenge himself in new and exciting ways and to inspire others to take their next step and experience the thrill of going for their dreams and realizing what they are truly capable of. He enjoys helping others surprise themselves with new levels of achievement and a higher quality of life. Johnson is now sharing his real-life, real world experience so that the readers can benefit from the lessons he learned without having to expereirence the many adventures themselves. His habit of taking on challenges started early as he broke track records in grade school and captured the state wrestling title in high school in addition to earning a black belt in Taekwondo. After joining the US Marines, he traveled the world with the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team (F.A.S.T) and was on the elite US Marine 2nd Force Recon team. After an honorable discharge, Johnson focused on kickboxing. He was the National Heavyweight Amateur IKF Kickboxing Champion; won the IFMA World Super-heavyweight Amateur Kickboxing Title; and was the IKF Amateur of the Year and ranked 7th in the world as a professional. Johnson is now a California-based fitness professional (certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine) as well as an Ironman triathlete and a natural bodybuilding and fitness model champion. He is a fat loss expert to everyone from professional athletes and Hollywood celebrities, to retired seniors and stay-at-home moms. Johnson is a published fitness writer and has appeared/modeled in publications such as Muscle and Fitness, Ironman, Men's Fitness, Physical, Combat Athlete, Exercise for Men, and Inside Kung Fu.

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