All I want For Christmas is... Another
Strongbow (The Dome)...
Anyone want to help me build it? Memories of
I remember the first time I saw the place with Dan Bam Bam Stell. We drove down to Bakersfield to take several of Bam's fighters to a Kickboxing event promoted by Abe Belardo. For those who don't know CA Kickboxing History, Abe is pretty much one of the Godfathers of Kickboxing here in CA. It was like walking into a fight stadium in a movie in Thailand. Not a bad seat in the house, stadium seating all around the outside of the circular building, a tunnel entrance from the fighter warm-up, locker room area. It wasn't just a building, it was a mini "Stadium!" Strongbow was also popular with the big time wrestling events, but it was Kickboxing and Muay Thai in my memories of the place. Some of the Greatest fights happened there with some of the greatest Champions, some even came back as trainers of their own champions. Some of the greats that past through those doors include (some fighters, some trainers, some officials) Kathy Long, Jesus Andrade, Mauricio 'The Jaguar' Mauricio Gonzalez Guzman, Toney "The Hammer" Hannon, Boyd Murphy - "The Bounty Hunter!
Chuck Lidell won his IKF USA Title there and later lost it to Scott Harmon. Others stars of the sport included Richard Kresechuk, Manuel Quezada, Carter Williams, Raul Rodriguez, Dwayne Woody Woodard, Saekson Janjira, Danny Steele, John Adams, John Washington, Marcos Rosales, Ralph McKnight, Domi Tomate, Hector Pena, Frita Gibbs, Lisa Smith, Cecil Peoples, Eric Nolan, Keo Tkmoffresno, Peter Cunningham, Billy Olson, Gene Fields, Yia Mau, Benny Urquidez, Jim Mullen, Lilly Rodriguez, Adam Rogers, Dewey Cooper, Blinky Rodriguez, Bridgett "BabyDoll" Riley, Maurice Travis, Angela Rivera - Wayne Angie Parr, Scott Milam, Lynda Loyce - Lynda DekWat and SO MANY MORE! Heck, even our BlackOut Fight Gear ( Rodney Engberson) pal Jr Rikishi Fatu fought there in a wrestling show.
By 2000, Strongbow Kickboxing was done. Abe Belardo went on to other venues and eventually retired as a promoter. Same thing for Bakersfield Promoter Eric Nolan. Bakersfield had once been a strong region for kickboxing which has all but dried up in the city with what promoters left, moving to MMA. Strongbow was eventually bought by some guy who did the unthinkable... He brought in truckloads of dirt and rock and filled in the Famous "PIT" of Strongbow, sealing it with a flat venue floor. The "FEEL" of Strongbow would be lost forever... He changed the name to "The Dome" and later some other names, rented it out to churches, dances, concerts and even some big time wrestling events and MMA events, but it was NEVER the stadium it was. By then it was just a round building with a flat floor. You can see some of the last photos of it once the "PIT" was filled in here on this page.
The 15,000-square-foot building at 2201 V St. is rich in history. Its final event was a pro wrestling show on Sunday, July 22. In October of 2018 the 78 year old Strongbow Stadium (The Dome by this time) gave its last gasp as it was leveled to the ground. It had been originally purchased by a guy named Steve Strelich, who originally paid $40,000 for the building, back on January 8, 1941. On October 26, 1962 Strelich sold the building to Jules Strongbow, Bill Griffiths, and Jerry Hill for $100,000. Jules Strongbow passed away in May of 1975 and by 1976 Bill Griffiths and Jerry Hill were entertaining bids to buy the venue and turn it into a warehouse. Ramona Strongbow, widow of Jules Strongbow, was able to buy out the other two partners and keep the building in operation. After purchasing the building she would rename it after her late husband, changing the name to Strongbow Stadium. (https://www.kget.com/news/the-dome-holds-final-show)
Strongbow Stadium will ALWAYS be a very special place to me with so many great memories. Thanks Dan Bam Bam Stell and Abe Belardo for sharing this GEM of a venue with me.
Maybe someday, with the right investor, we can bring it back
as a great, and much needed venue for California Kickboxing and Muay Thai...
Top Ten Venues in SoCal History
For the next 21 years Strelich would promote weekly wrestling at the venue, first on Wednesdays then later on Thursdays, with some of the sports biggest stars making regular appearances. On October 26, 1962 Strelich sold the building to Jules Strongbow, Bill Griffiths, and Jerry Hill for $100,000. Strelich would pass away in 1971. Wrestling would continue to be held every Thursday at Strelich Stadium throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, often drawing sellout crowds to the 1,650 seat arena. In the mid-1970s the building faced its first brush with disappearing. Jules Strongbow passed away in May of 1975 and by 1976 Bill Griffiths and Jerry Hill were entertaining bids to buy the venue and turn it into a warehouse. Ramona Strongbow, widow of Jules Strongbow, was able to buy out the other two partners and keep the building in operation. After purchasing the building she would rename it after her late husband, changing the name to Strongbow Stadium.
The first event under the new Strongbow Stadium name was on December 11, 1976 and on that show Mil Mascaras defeated Super Scorpion in the main event in front of 1,200 fans. While wrestling would continue at the venue, the area around it started to go further downhill and outside the venue became a hangout for prostitutes and the building was frequently vandalized. The death of the territory system also meant the end of regular weekly wrestling. Ramona Strongbow passed away in 1993.
While WWF would run at the Bakersfield Convention Center, the emergence on independent wrestling in California in the 1990s would occasionally occupy Strongbow Stadium. XPW notably ran several shows there in 2000, with Sabu winning the XPW title in a tournament on April 29, 2000. After Inocencio Madera purchased the building in the early 2000s, he renamed it yet again, to The Bakersfield Dome. In the mid-to late 2000s APW and later Vendetta Pro would regularly run at the venue. On November 2, 2008 TNA ran a show there as well, with AJ Styles defeating Christian Cage in the main event. In November 2012 it was announced the building would stop holding non-religious events. After a few years however, the building started hosting other events again, and in the last year has hosted promotions such as Knoxk Pro and various lucha libre shows. Northern California's Best of the West promotion is scheduled to debut there in October. Despite a few brushes with death, right now it looks like Southern California's oldest active wrestling venue will be sticking around for awhile.
CHECK OUT THIS ZOOM PHOTO
THE END OF STRONGBOW -
The Dome is no more. A demolition crew hired by the downtown property's new owner razed much of the structure before noon Friday, days ahead of a schedule outlined earlier this week. The building's destruction ends what had been a growing movement to spare the architecturally novel events venue built in 1940. Historic preservations groups had appealed to the building's owner, Boca Raton-Fla.-based The Geo Group Inc., owner of the nearby Mesa Verde immigration detention center on Golden State Avenue. Geo has said the demolition was necessary to create a safe and secure buffer around the detention facility. But the building's former owner and his agent said representatives of Geo told them the plan was to build a residential treatment center at the site.
The Bakersfield Historic Preservation Commission and the Kern County Historical Society both reached out to Geo recently urging them to spare The Dome even if surrounding structures must go. The City Councilman who represents the area, Andrae Gonzales, said he had been contacted by many individuals asking the city to intervene. But in an interview, Gonzales said the city could not afford to buy the property from its owner. On Wednesday, one day after the city of Bakersfield issued a demolition permit, a crew with Anaheim-based Integrated Demolition and Remediation Inc. began tearing down buildings next to The Dome. A supervisor with the demolition company told The Californian Wednesday he didn't expect to knock down The Dome for another two to three weeks because electrical power was still hooked up to the building. But then he revised his forecast, saying the building might come down as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday. That schedule appears to have been accelerated.
The Dome had been notable for its "arch-ribbed" roof, one of a handful built in California. For decades it hosted wrestling and boxing matches, as well as concerts and other events. The building's previous owner, Chencho Madera, said attendance at events there had waned and it no longer made financial sense for him to keep the structure. In the end, he said, Geo was the only entity that made him a viable purchase offer.
SANCTIONED EVENTS HELD AT
Former Woman's World Kickboxing Champion Kathy Long came to Strongbow Stadium last month, but not to compete. Instead, Long, now a trainer cornered for her fighter Mauricio 'The Jaguar' Gonzalez and they left Bakersfield with a familiar result, A title win.
Promoters Eric Nolan and Abe Belardo plan their next event in Bakersfield January 25th, 1997.
IKF EVENT NOTES
IKF Promoters Eric Nolan and Abe Belardo hosted another great kickboxing event at the famous Strongbow Stadium in Bakersfield, CA, USA on June 21st. However, there was a great pre-event worry when five fighters pulled out within 24 hours of the event. Three fighters from Gilbert Garcia training camp in Hacienda Heights (Southern California) were booked to fight on the event but didn't show up. When attempts were made to contact them the day of the event, Garcia's wife answered the phone simply saying, "They are on the way there and should be there any moment." They never called to cancel, say they were going to be late, or anything. They just didn't show up. It's trainers like this that put a black eye on promoting kickboxing events. This rude action didn't only hurt the event, but the 3 other fighters who did show up to fight Garcia's fighters. Trainers, fighters and all officials need to always be professional and respectful to all involved in an event. If you can't make the show, at least call. On the other hand, a commitment is a commitment. Don't commit if you plan to pull out. Because of this, the event featured only 3 real bouts. However, the crowd went away excited due to 4 DYNAMIC EXHIBITIONS!
Three other exhibitions made the night exciting as well including one that ended in a kick knockout to the head by Chris Stanford by accident over Richard Reiter and a fantastic 3 round Muay Thai exhibition by 2 exciting 8 year olds.
In attendance for the California state athletic commission was Rob Lynch and Dwayne Woodard. The event judges were John Forquara and 2 referees alternating bouts, Marcos Rosales & Cecil Peoples. The event timekeeper was Ralph McKnight. IKF President Steve Fossum was the guest MC/ring announcer. The event Physicians: were Dr. Robert Karnes and Dr. Pat Golden. Special guests included Kickboxing World Champions Kathy "THE PUNISHER" Long and Peter "SUGARFOOT" Cunningham. Nolan and Belardo's next event is planned for July 12th at Table Mountain Casino in Fresno, CA, USA. For more information, contact Mr. Nolan at (805) 833-3367.
IKF Promoter Abe Belardo's IKF Bakersfield, CA, USA event hosted a packed house Saturday night, March 14th at the famous Strongbow Stadium. Of the 7 scheduled bouts, all 7 ended in knockouts or TKO's. A new IKF International Rules Amateur Heavyweight Champion was crowned when Manual Quezada knocked Jason Williamson to the mat 3 times in the first round with strong hand combinations. Going by the 3 knockdown rule backed by the California State Athletic Commission, Williamson was out at the 3rd knockdown and Quezada won the vacant IKF Amateur Heavyweight Title.
IKF EVENT NOTES
IKF Promoter Abe Belardo held another action packed event this last weekend at the famous Strongbow Stadium in Bakersfield, California, USA. Although the event only featured 3 actual adult bouts, the event was history making for the IKF as they kicked off the first ever IKF sanctioned Junior Division bout with 2 fighters under 16 years old. The bout featured 10 year old Sam Soksoda of Soksoda Muay Thai in Redding, CA, USA who defeated 8 year old Christopher Soriano of Bakersfield, CA, USA by split decision. The win was a controversial one due to a standing 8 count that was given to Soriano. Many thought it was a slip but the bout referee ruled it a knockdown. The knockdown proved to be the difference as Soksoda won the split decision, 29-26, 27-28 & 29-28. The IKF will be scheduling more Junior Division bouts soon on the way to the IKF RINGSIDE National Amateur Tournament. The Junior Division will be run just like USA Amateur Boxing and from the sound of the crowd this last weekend, the Junior Division is sure to be a MAJOR crowd pleaser. Watch for more info on this new division soon.
The Main Event of the night was the IKF heavyweight title defense of Manual Quezada. Quezada was defending his IKF Amateur Heavyweight International Rules Title against Boyd Murphy. The bout went the 5 round distance with both fighters showing a lot of heart and power. In the end though, Murphy proved to be in better shape and more stronger as he clearly took the title from the Champion, Quezada in a unanimous decision win, 48-47, 49-45 & 46-45.
The semi main featured a bout for the vacant IKF Muay Thai Rules Light Welterweight Amateur title in which Le Hua defeated last second fill in, Josh Rogers of Soksoda Muay Thai in Redding, CA, USA by unanimous decision, 39-27, 40-36 & 40-36.
The one non title undercard featured 2 fighters that had little ring experience but looked like they were seasoned veterans. Mike Morello of Santa Barbara, CA, USA was ahead of Majid Raees of Silmar on all the judges cards until Raees landed a PERFECT, Benny The Jet Style spinning rear kick into Morello's ribs at :43 seconds of the final round. The kick doubled Morello over with a loud yell and after a few steps, he dropped down and out. It was a perfect kick that took what looked like a sure victory from Morello. Raees had several flashy kicks throughout the bout as well. This was a GREAT BOUT by BOTH fighters and due to the way this one ended, we are sure these two will meet again soon.
John Washington and IKF U.S. Champion, Jesus Andrede did a short partial round exhibition to fill some time but it was clear that "The HAMMER" stole the exhibition show. IKF Undefeated North American Super Middleweight Champion Toney "The Hammer" Hannon of Bakersfield, CA, USA and IKF Co-Founder and past kickboxing Champion, Dannie "BAM BAM" Stell of Fairfield, CA, USA both thrilled the crowd with their great technical skill, speed and flash in an action packed 3 round exhibition. It was obvious, "The Hammer" is still a great hometown favorite!
The event was fully sponsored by the IKF/ RINGSIDE connection once again as RINGSIDE provided their New Pro Style Fight Gloves for the event.Thanks again RINGSIDE!
IKF EVENT NOTES
IKF Veteran Promoter Abe Belardo has succeed again as he packed the house at the famous Strongbow Stadium in Bakersfield California USA. Belardo is one of the first and most successful IKF promoters and he continued his success this last Saturday night. The much anticipated main event featuring the IKF U. S Amateur International Rules Featherweight Title Defense of Delano's Jesus Andrade against challenger Billy Olsen of Santa Rosa never took place as Olsen pulled out of the bout the day before the event.
However, Bakersfields own Manual Quezada (218 lbs) didn't disappoint the hometown crowd as he stopped Modesto California's Carter Williams (209 lbs) by TKO to win the IKF California Amateur International Rules Super Heavyweight Title. However it's too bad that Quezada's fans smeared a black mark on his performance by throwing beer cups into the ring. If it happens again, we'd like to see those individuals who can't control themselves during an event hauled away and locked up. These type of fans spoil it for everyone.
Hawk Chhim (125 lbs) of Modesto, CA, won his IKF United States Featherweight title by forfeit when his opponent refused to fight the day of the event while his brother Vantha Chhim (128 lbs) defeated Reddings Billy Soksoda (121 lbs) by majority decision to win the IKF California Amateur Featherweight Muay Thai Title.
HOWEVER, Vantha Chhim's and Soksoda's weight spread was far beyond the maximum 4 pound spread in their weight class. Soksoda weighed in light for the Featherweight Title (124.1-128) at 121 lbs which means technically, Soksoda would have lost the title by forfeit before the bout even took place since Vantha weighed within the limits of the division at 128 lbs. Vantha was a last minute replacement as an opponent for Soksoda and Soksoda was told he weighed in at 125 lbs. It was not until after the event that Soksoda realized he was outweighed by 7 lbs. The bout though took place under the guidance of the State Commission despite the weight spread though. Now, after this discovery, the bout is under official review by the State Athletic Commission and the IKF which well determine why the bout went on with such a weight spread in the first place.
In other bouts,
Belardo's next event has yet to be planned but keep track of the IKF Upcoming Events page and it will appear soon.
Special thanks to Kathy Chilimidos of the California State Athletic Commission and Abe Belardo for assisting with these results.
TheIKF's longest running promoter, Abe Belardo of Delano California, USA successfully completed another IKF Kickboxing event this last Saturday night, February 20th at the famous Strongbow Stadium in Bakersfield, CA, USA. The main featured Manual Quezada of Bakersfield, CA, USA (5-3 with 3 KO's) and Dewey Cooper of Las Vegas Nevada, USA (10-0 with 8 KO's) fighting for the IKF'S International Rules West Coast Heavyweight Title.
Quezada has always been a very composed fighter and he continued his relaxed appearance in the ring Saturday night seeming to never change his facial expression during the entire fight. Both fighters had great power, speed and smooth combinations but in the later rounds, Quezada seemed to be landing more blows on the exchanges. In the end, Quezada took the win with a close unanimous decision scoring 48-47, 49-46 and 49-46 on the judges cards. Quezada last fought in the IKF Bakersfield event winning by KO over Carter Williams of Modesto, CA, USA ( 2-1-1 with no KO's) back on September 12th, 1998.
Cooper last fought on the IKF Sacramento, CA, USA event on December 9th, 1998 against Mike Marinoble of Roseville, CA, USA (2-1 with 1 KO) beating Marinoble by unanimous decision 30-26 on all 3 judges cards. Quezada and Marinoble were 2 of only 3 people to take Cooper the distance. Coopers win against Marinoble was ruled a "No Contest" though due to the Sacramento event matchmaker misleading Marinoble on Coopers record during matchmaking. Seems Cooper was asked to announce his record as 4-0 with 3 KO's when in fact he was 10-0 with 8 KO's and as most of us know, that's a BIG DIFFERENCE... Great job to Marinoble for doing as good as he did against a much more experienced fighter.
In the undercards, two IKF Junior division fighters squared off, but these weren't little boys. These were two dynamic girl fighters giving their all. 11 year old Kendra Washington of Bakersfield, CA, USA took a close majority decision win over 12 year old Jenny Chavira of Wasco, 29-27, 29-28 and 28-28.
With the night starting off with such a "BANG" in the Junior girls match, it put the pressure on the rest of the card to compete for cheers. But like clockwork, the remainder of the fights were just as exciting. The event crowd was well represented by the fans of Wasco CA, USA and with 3 Wasco fighters on the card, they didn't let their fans down. Along with Quezada winning the title in the main event, his father had his hands full with 2 other fighters.Luis Rayo of Wasco made a win out of his first fight with a unanimous decision win over Sylmar's Richard Barrigan, 30-27, 29-27 and 29-27. The other fighter from Wasco, Miguel Alvidrez fought a great fight in his debut as well but Mike Stevenson of North Hollywood, CA and the Jets Gym wanted to win a bit more and edged out Alvidrez in a unanimous decision win, 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
Rounding out the undercard bouts were Robert Preciado of San Luis Obispo, CA, USA who injured his ankle and was forced to stop at the end of round 2 giving Angel Studnik of Sylmar, CA, USA the win by TKO in his debut fight. Studnik was dominating the bout anyway and was ahead on all 3 judges cards 20-18 at the end of 2.
In the debut of 2 first time fighters, James Johnson of Las Vegas Nevada, USA defeated Scott Lighty of San Luis Obispo, CA, USA by unanimous decision, 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.
Majid Raees of North Hollywood, CA, USA defeated Eddie Salas of Las Vegas Nevada by KO with a Devastating spin kick to Salas' stomach at :30 seconds into round 2. Raees improves to 3-0 with 2 KO's while Salas drops to 4-3 with 4 KO's.
Henry Cho of San Luis Obispo, CA, USA defeated Mike Marello of Santa Barbara, CA, USA by split decision, 29-28, 29-27 and 26-30. Marello had broke his hand in the first round but kept fighting not knowing of the break other than the pain. Cho improved to 1-1 while Marello dropped to 2-2 with 1 KO.
The girls were not to be outdone by the boys on this night. After starting the evening off with the little girls, it was big girl time, but not much bigger. 117 lb. Angela Rivera of Phelan, CA, USA took a close split decision win over 116 lb. Lindsay Thompson of Bakersfield CA, USA 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28. This was a GREAT FIGHT! Rivera improved to 3-2 with 1 KO while Thompson dropped to 1-1 with 1 KO.
In attendance for the event was Kickboxing great and now action movie star Benny "The Jet" Urquidez and sister Lilly Rodriguez who had fighters on the card from the Jets Gym. Also attending were IKF US Amateur Champions, Jason "Recon" Williamson, Boyd "The Bounty Hunter" Murphy, past IKF US Amateur Champion and now UFC fighter, Chuck Liddell and #1 ranked IKF Pro Bantamweight Fighter Dee Defoe who will be fighting for a World Boxing Title in Tennessee, USA on April 2nd.
The IKF referees were Dan Stell of Fairfield, CA USA and Marcos Rosalas of Bakersfield, CA, USA. Promoter Abe Belardo sang the National Anthem as he always does for his events and does a great job as well! IKF officials Ralph McKnight and Scott Milam were the judges as Stell and Rosalas alternated between refereeing and judging. Karina Belardo was timekeeper and the ringside Physician was Dr. Jerry Sydel. The California State Athletic Commission Representative was Dwayne Woodard. IKF President Steve Fossum helped out Promoter Abe Belardo as his ring announcer since Belardo's ring announcer called in sick.Belardo's next event will be a pro-am World Title Show at Table Mountain Indian Casino outside of Fresno California, USA on April 24th. For more info on the event, please contact Mr. Belardo at his Martial Arts School, Way of Japan at (805) 834-5871
Although the Christmas Season crowd was smaller than his usual crowd, IKF Promoter Abe Belardo is very happy with a GREAT EVENT last Saturday night at the famous STRONGBOW Stadium in Bakersfield, CA, USA. The night featured 11 bouts with 3 of them being in the IKF IKF Junior Amateur division in which 2 of them were the first IKF IKF Junior Amateur titles ever awarded. The night also featured title bouts in theIKF Amateur Men's IKF International / Leg Kick Rules and the Amateur Mens IKF MuayThai rules.
The Main Event featuring Manual Quezada of Wasco, California, USA defending his IKF Amateur California State Super Heavyweight IKF International / Leg Kick Title against a "Challenge" by unranked, Sam Malioo of Long Beach, California, USA. Round 1 saw Quezada landing several head kicks and spin kicks but Molioo was able to take them and even answered back with some swift combinations of his own. In round 2, it was more of the same as Quezada searched to find his distance with Molioo, exchanging combinations and Quezada still landing some good head kicks along with some strong leg kicks. But late in round 2, Quezada found his reach and landed a right hand punch that "Rocked The House" sending Molioo motionless to the mat at 1:44 of the second round. Quezada retained his IKF California Super Heavyweight International / Leg Kick title.
In the Semi Main Event, Henry Cho (174, 3-3/1) of San Louis Obispo, California, USA faced off against Kazushi Nishida (172, 6-2/0) of San Francisco, California, USA for the vacant IKF Amateur Light Heavyweight IKF MuayThai Title. Let us tell you all that "BOTH" of these fighters put on a GREAT WAR for Everyone! This was truly one of the BEST MuayThai bouts of the year! When the smoke cleared, the judges as well saw it close. One judge saw it all even at 38-38, while the other two saw it 39-37 in favor of the new IKF Amateur Light Heavyweight IKF MuayThai Champion, Kazushi Nishida.
HOPEFULLY we will see BOTH these fighters in the 2000 IKF/RINGSIDE National Amateur Tournament next year to test their skills to see who is TRULY "The Best of the BEST!" in the Nation!
Lets go back now and review the other bouts of the night. The night started out with 3 IKF Junior Amateur Bouts.
Mr. Belardo has scheduled his next event in Bakersfield, CA in February, 2000. For more info, contact Mr. Abe Belardo at (661) 834-5871.
SOME OF THE FIGHTER'S &
NAMES ASSOCIATED WITH THE