The “Greatest Show on Earth” for El Paso, Texas was Hilary and Tony Sandoval’s “Battlestar Karatica.” As teenagers, Hilary and Tony would enter the dynamic sport of kickboxing as promoters, managers, mentors, and even coaches. From those early beginnings in the 1970’s to a mature and older businessman who now owns AB Karate and a Blackbelt holder in Kempo Karate, it has been a sensational career for Hilary beginning with the brothers bringing El Paso, Texas its first world championship in any combat sport. That event unfolded at the El Paso Civic Center when their fighter, Clifton ‘Magic’ Thomas, won the PKA World Super Lightweight title over undefeated Gordon Franks on August 9th, 1980 by TKO in the 3rd round. That stunning victory was a shot heard round the martial arts world. Contenders and their managers figured that it must have been a fluke victory what with Cliff a 20 - 1 underdog and managed by inexperienced teenagers. Consequently, they lined up in droves to challenge the upstart kids. ‘Great’ thought Hilary, he had an ace in the hole to prepare Cliff for any and all challenges; one Demetrius Havanas.
Hilary, only sixteen, had met ‘The Great Greek’ at the United States Martial Arts Championships in Dallas, Texas. Hilary vowed to be a promoter right then and though clueless about doing same, ramped up his business knowledge with aid from genius like young brother Tony (age 13). And only three months after graduating from Coronado High School, Hilary and thirteen year old Tony, brought the legendary Greek to El Paso to fight in the main event along with two young kickboxers beginning their career under the brothers, Joe Soto and Cliff ‘Magic’ Thomas. The event was a tremendous success and over the next two decades ‘Battlestar Karatica’ would put El Paso, Texas on the nation and world map with Cliff alone amassing seven world titles in five different weight divisions. Joe Soto was a star too and was ranked second in the PKA. Often, The Greek and another world contender, Ishmael Robles, would be on board as coaches and sparring partners for Champion Thomas who would become a fight TV celebrity under deadly devastating circumstances.