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Martial Arts History

Name:  Tony Bonello
Age:  52

Rank:  5th Degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Received all 5 degrees (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th stripes) from Ralph Gracie.

(Above Photos) Ralph Gracie awarding Tony his 5th Degree Black Belt in May of 2022, after Tony training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for over 30 years. 

During the 1990's, Tony went to the motherland of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, Brazil, to train.  He flew to Rio and was very privileged and lucky to do a few private lessons with Mario Sperry while he was there.  Sperry was the Blackbelt Heavyweight World Champion in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the time and showed Tony some of his basic principles of bjj.  Sperry also introduced him to one of the greatest fighters ever from the Gracie family, Carlson Gracie Sr., who was the man Sperry received his black belt from.  Carlson Sr. owned his own academy in Rio, where Tony had an opportunity to train with his students. This was the first time Tony got to spar with a group of genuine black belts in Brazil from the Carlson Gracie competition team.  After being choked and arm locked too many times to count and not understanding how it kept happening, Tony's hunger and desire to learn bjj was at an all time high.  But, after living in Rio and training for several months, his time in Brazil was running out and he had to fly back to Sydney, Australia.  Tony learned some great basic principles from Sperry and kept training bjj with some friends when he arrived back in Sydney.

Tony’s focus was to keep studying Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and he learnt as much as he could.  As the year 2000 came and went, Tony kept travelling around the world following his passion for traditional martial arts & was privileged to have studied martial arts from many of the best trainers in the world. Some of the main gyms he trained in were Adam Watt’s Muay Thai in Manly, Vos gym in Amsterdam,  Sitpholek gym in Thailand, Paulo Guimaraes in Bondi Beach,  Al Stankie boxing in Los Angeles, Wajyutsu Keisyukai in Tokyo,  Seidokaikan Karate in Osaka, Roberto Duran boxing in Panama, Master Toddy in Las Vegas, Jeff Fenech in Sydney, Carlson Gracie gym in Rio,  Eddie Mills at Shark Tank in California, Sean Canova in Orange County, Kings MMA in Huntington Beach, and Sifu Chan Chuk Fai at the Jin Wu Koon Academy in Chinatown, Sydney.

Tony was offered a great opportunity by 'King of the Cage' promotional company, owner Terry Trebilcock Jr., to fight for the 'King of the Cage' Middleweight World Championship belt in America. In November of 2003, Tony became the first Australian fighter to ever win the 'King of the Cage' middleweight championship on American soil.

​​​​​​Tony's final fight in Australia was a King of the Cage show where the main event pitted Tony vs. the Australian superstar, John Wayne Parr.Parr is a 10 time World Champion who has had over 100 professional fights in combat sports and is the most famous Muay Thai fighter of all time from Australia. Tony fought the Australian legend, John Wayne Parr, inside the cage on February 7, 2007 with Tony winning in 30 seconds from a rear naked choke! Tony was 35 years old at the time of this bout. 1st time in over 100 pro fights Parr was stopped in the 1st round.

Tony then departed Australia and flew to California a week after his Wayne Parr fight because he got a phone call from Terry Trebilcock asking him if he wanted to live and train in America for the rest of the year and then take on a heavy weight in New Mexico vs. Tony 'Kryptonite' Lopez, a 6'4 KOTC heavyweight world champion who had just ko'ed UFC fighter Kyle Kingsbury 4 weeks earlier in the 1st round. Tony accepted the fight and defeated Lopez by unanimous decision on October 13, 2007.

In 2008, King of the Cage signed a TV deal with Mark Burnett and MTV to create 'Bully Beatdown'.  The show was a tremendous success.  It featured several world champions such as UFC heavyweight world champion Andrei Arlovski and strike-force world champion Jake shields. The show was and still is being viewed in over 100 different countries worldwide. Tony’s episode was the first "Bully Beatdown" episode to be aired worldwide and received amazing ratings. On the first day it aired, over 1.2 million people viewed it in America alone. Tony recorded a 2nd episode for season two which was an even greater success at 1.4 million views in America in its first airing.

In January of 2012, Tony left America and went back to Asia to live. On August 31, 2012, Tony who was 39 years old fought Rolles Gracie in Manila, Philippines. Rolles is the biggest MMA fighter in the history of the Gracie family, as a 6'5 250lb heavyweight. Tony officially weighed in at 206lbs. They fought in the exact stadium where Ali fought Frazier for the heavyweight boxing world championship that was better known as the "Thriller in Manila".

On November 2nd, 2014, Tony, at the age of 42, entered the Ibjjf brazilian jiu-jitsu Masters no-gi world championships in the Blackbelt division. He had 2 fights and won both fights via submission to win the Gold Medal and become the 1st Australian blackbelt male to ever do so.

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