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Jun 03rd
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Home MMA Cliff ‘Magic’ Thomas - El Paso: Have You Forgotten?
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Cliff ‘Magic’ Thomas - El Paso: Have You Forgotten?

cliff-majic-thomas7-Time World Champion Kickboxer

Cliff “Magic” Thomas was born with a hole in his heart the size of a silver dollar. His parents were informed after an operation that left him with 142 stitches across his chest in the form of a cross that if they were careful with the lad he might live to age fourteen. He was not allowed to participate in contact sports at Bel Air High School in El Paso, Texas. In his senior year, he was allowed to compete in track and field. Still alive, Cliff decided he would try karate in 1972 and hooked up with trainer Robert Nava in El Paso, Texas. He was only fourteen and didn’t have the money for lessons. Nava let him clean the gym and do other errands to pay for his training. Four years later, in 1976, Cliff earned his Black Belt.  He was soon winning trophies at non-full-contact karate events and longed for full contact kickboxing. His manager Hilary Sandoval, and promoter, Tony Sandoval, hooked him up with the grand master of kickboxing, Demitrius Havanas of Dallas, Texas. They also landed another top-ranked trainer in Ishmael Robles. Soon thereafter, it was noticed that Cliff needed stand up boxing skills. The late and renowned El Paso boxing trainer, Rocky Galarza, was next on board. Over his championship career, other karate trainers would include Joe Soto and Rick Reyna. Rocky brought boxing coach Tom McKay on board and the Sandoval’s would, over the years, employ boxing coaches Ralph Ruiz and George Villa. It was a team fitting for the ‘Magic Man’ who would demonstrate over the next twenty five years that he was not only capable of beating the best, he beat them with authority. His first championship was as a 20-1 underdog against Minnesota’s world champion Gordon Franks. El Paso was so fortunate that the Sandoval’s arranged to have the fight in the Sun City. On ESPN in 1980, Cliff came fit and ready and exploded his dynamic tools all over Franks, bloodied him early and knocked him out in the third round.  It was amazingly, El Paso’s first world championship in any sport. It was a ‘Magical’ time in El Paso and the after-fight party lingered well into the next morning. Cliff was our hero and the next question was, “How long would his reign last?”

Cliff had bigger dreams then just one world championship. He would prove to be the greatest kickboxer of the world by the time he was forty five years of age. Along the way he won seven world championships in five different weight divisions. He was never officially down in over seventy matches. He even came out of retirement at age forty five to win two world championships…a magnificent feat in its own right and proof that the ‘Magic’ was nothing mysterious; it was dedication, furious training trials, and discipline; traits that had been his forte since age fourteen.

Cliff ‘Magic’ Thomas gave El Paso and the nation the rarest of athletes. Children born in 1980 when Cliff won his first title were able to experience the magic in their teens and as young adults in their twenties. Today, newer generations can view him on youtube and other network places and even in person as he makes personal; appearances.  Or, they can train with him in Fort Worth and Dallas where he now resides.

As an aside, El Paso enjoyed the championship run of some twenty five years. Many of us started and retired from jobs over that stretch of time. Cliff loved his sport so much that he gave up gaining a higher education to be the best kickboxer in history. Perhaps he would have stayed in his hometown if decent job opportunities had been offered to him. It just didn’t happen. We had the joy and wonder of watching him win championships for over two decades. Maybe we ignored him when he needed us most…in his twilight years.

El Paso: Have You forgotten?

Thomas W. McKay

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Breezzy  - Great teacher |
I studied under cliff in my younger yrs he was a very head strong on discipline and made sure the mental preparedness was first never forgotten champ
Marie Y. Pichardo  - Retired Fed. L.e.o |
Both Cliff and I worked for Burns Security when I met him. I didn't know anything about him other that he was a great guy, my brothers saw him and instantly knew who he was. We continued some contact for some years then we both got caught in life and lost track of each other. I sure wish I could find him again.
Tom 'the Wizard" McKay  - re: Cliff Majic Thomas |
A fighter like this deserves a movie made after him. Why have they not made one ? ???

Dammit all, you are 110 per cent correct. Such a major career and life story of triumph and tragedy. Hollywood is missing the boat and my suggestion s for a very good agent to sign Cliff 'muy pronto'. Have a happy
Tom 'the Wizard" McKay  - re: NObody KO's Cliff 'Magic' Thomas |
]I can't remember ever seeing or hearing about Cliff Majic Thomas getting knocked down. Correct me if I am wrong.[/quote]

Sir, you are correct. In 78 major bouts with many world champions, and Cliff winning 7 world championships in 5 different weight divisions, none of the talented belt carriers put Cliff down. Not even when Cliff came out of retirement at age 45 to win his 7th world title. Other than a slight period of time after his 18 year old manager, Tony Sandoval, got killed in a plane crash did Cliff have a slight falter in his career. It was short lived as he picked up excellent trainers again and was brilliant the rest of his career. What a happy

Jeanne Steele  - Teacher |
Sorry, that was dumb. I was a teacher at Bel Air and knew Cliff and his family for many years. I lost touch with them when I moved, and would like to get in touch with Frank Thomas. If anyone can help, I'd be grateful.
Anonymous |
I knew Cliff when I was a teacher at Bel Air, and saw him occasionally after. I'm trying to contact his brother, Frank Thomas. If anyone can put me in touch with him, I'd be very grateful.
Matthew Brinkley  - My hero. |
I personaly know this man , I was a student of his for many years and he will never be forgoten by me!! I did not have the money to train in his dojo but he let me come in every day anyway, at the end of the day i did not have a ride home , he took me home as well . I have many more storys i could share but ill tell you this , he is a great man in my eyes and was my hero , took me in when i had nothing and tought me to fight for my self and to be a good man as well. its been years now , i wish i could say thank you to him.
Fit2Keep |
El Paso fight promoters include Cliff Majic Thomas in their events as a special guest. I have seen him several times when they announce his name. He is usually somewhere in ringside. I do not feel that El Paso has forgotten of him.
Sammy  - NO KO |
I can't remember ever seeing or hearing about Cliff Majic Thomas getting knocked down. Correct me if I am wrong.
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Yes, Will Smith could play Cliff from say 35-46. However, who is a look alike at age 20-35? Finding a young kid to be operated on should be no problem.
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tall and lanky plus athletic. It could work
Black Python  - Movie About Cliff Thomas |
The movie moguls have really missed on this fighter. What an amazing and incredible athlete; and to overcome what he did medically is near impossible.
I suppose Hollywood just wants white men and girlie fighters in film. Where is Clint Eastwood , etc., when it comes down to making the greatest fight film ...not done? Forget the color and concentrate on the accomplishments. Just how exciting does Hollywood want to NOT GET?

I can only imagine how a superb film about Cliff would be an Academy Award contender. Dammit, someone in the movie business, go for the gusto on the Magic. MMA and Martial Arts are IN Baby, so just Do IT.

Or Bite Me
steve  - Cliff Majic Thomas |
A fighter like this deserves a movie made after him. Why have they not made one ? ???
Cutter  - Jut Wow!!! |
Wow! Wow! wow! Wow! Wow! wow! Wow!
Seven wow's for the brilliant Magic Man.
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