What the martial arts magazines said about Keith Vitali

Keith Vitali – America’s Sultan of Semi-Contact Karate
“Not only is he the top-ranked tournament fighter in his sport, and the STAR System’s “National Grand Champion of 1980,” the truth is, Atlanta’s Keith Vitali played an instrumental role in rejuvenating semi-contact karate’s sagging scenario of the later 1970’s. When point-fighting was floundering at an all-time low, his presence and performance gave it new vitality. And it was his rivalry with Texan Ray McCallum that since 1979 infused new life into a sport sorely needing it. Keith Vitali’s recent retirement from competition marks an end of an era in the annals of sport karate. As a champion, he joins the elite list of American great tournament fighters: Mike Stone, Chuck Norris, Joe Lewis, Bill Wallace, and Howard Jackson. Vitali and Bill Wallace are the only point fighters in U.S. history to have been voted number one for three consecutive years. “

                                                                                    Kick Illustrated Magazine

Official Karate’s “Legion of Honor” 1982
“Keith Vitali is arguably the best point-fighting black belt who ever donned a Gi. Before retiring from active competition in 1981, Vitali was the number-one competitor in the United States for three-years in a row, and displayed such technique, intelligence, and enthusiasm for the sport of karate that further enhanced his reputation. Both on and off the floor, included in his string of Grand Championships are the Battle of Atlanta (78 & 79) and Mid-America Diamond Nationals in 1978, PKA Nationals in 1979 and AKA Grand Nationals and National Circuit Finals in 1980. Known primarily for his side kick and back fist, Keith’s most effective weapon was probably his incredible footwork, which he developed into a science few other competitors have even come close to mastering.”

                                                                        Official Karate Magazine

1981 – Black Belt Competitor of the Year
“Vitali was always a clean fighter and technician. The affable Georgian retired from point competition in early 1981. Now involved in several promotions related to Karate, including teaching, and acting, the Atlanta-based Vitali will long be looked upon as one of Sport Karate’s all-time great competitors and true gentleman.”

                                                                        Black Belt Magazine – ‘81

“Keith Vitali, perhaps the greatest tournament fighter karate has ever seen, retired from active competition in 1981.”

                                                                        Official Karate Magazine

Snap, Crackle and Pop
“As fellow karateka have learned, when Keith Vitali walks out, tightens his belt, and makes ready, an opponent is well advised to be prepared for a hailstorm of human feet.”

                                                                        Karate Illustrated Magazine

Stars of the Martial Arts
“Vitali is arguably one of the best tournament fighters who ever set foot in the kumite ring: He may someday be spoken about in the same reverent tones of legends like Norris, Stone, Lewis and Wallace. For the past two years, he has held onto the title of Number-One Black Belt Fighter in the nation and shows few if any signs of relinquishing his title this year – or next, for that matter. We have no doubt you will continue to hear about the exploits of this super fighter.”

                                                                        Official Karate Yearbook Magazine

Southern Exposure
“With the retirement of Vitali, the sport of tournament fighting is losing the most singularly uplifting force in that aspect in the last five years. It was Vitali’s dynamic style and verve that inspired many of the now top fighters in the country to think and fight and excel within their sport. And Vitali was always there as a major power to be dealt with at the major tournaments from coast to coast.”

                                                                        Official Karate Magazine

Keith Vitali’s Favorite Techniques
“Known for his excellent side kick and backfist combinations, the former numero uno often upset his opponents with sweeps and punches. Vitali infused a troubled sport with a new kind of energy. He played the part he was most comfortable with – that of an all-American, clean cut athlete. He was polite to his opponents, shy around his admirers, and as patient with his detractors as he was with his imitators. Vitali’s presence encouraged the clean-cut type to become involved in sport karate, attracting the attention of various media experts to the sport.”

                                                                        Karate Illustrated Magazine

Keith Vitali: He’s Still N0 1.
“Few people possess the consulate mastery of their skill that Keith Vitali does: his kicks are flawlessly executed and perfectly timed: his deft hand techniques allow him to punch with crisp precision. In a field of tournament competitors, he has the ability to score on the average opponent at will, as well as the fitness to score on the exceptional opponent when he needs to. He is the ultimate ring general, the tournament fighter Par Excellence.”

Vitali Revitalized at the Grand Nationals
“In the end, it was top rated Keith Vitali of Georgia showing why he is considered the man to beat in tournament sparring. In his first appearance of the evening, Keith Stepped up to test Dan Anderson. Wearing his powder blue double-knit uniform, Vitali looks more like a model for ‘Gentleman’s Quarterly’ Magazine than the nation’s top karate fighter. Looks are often deceptive and Vitali quickened his way past Anderson on an overtime backfist. Against Steve Fisher in the Grand Championship, Vitali’s timing would have made a Swiss watch envious as he slammed in a second, and then a third backfist to take a commanding 5 to 2 victory over a frustrated Steve Fisher.”

                                                                        Sport Karate Magazine

1980 – Keith Vitali – Rated Number-One Fighter of the Year
“If consistency is the key to success, this 27-year old Southerner may prove to be one of Sport Karate’s all time, “Super greats.” He impressed the nation’s best enough to land the top spot in the voting for the past year. In the special recognition categories, Vitali also was tops in “Best Defensive Fighter,” “Best All-Around Technician” and is favored to repeat in 1981 as “Player of the Year.” With his quick, quick back fist, his hard to penetrate side kick and his wealth of experience, Vital may be tough to unseat for a long time to come.”

                                                                        Sport Karate Magazine (Players’ Poll)

“Keith Vitali – How the legendary Vitali “vitality” created a tournament superstar… a film star… and the author of a major contribution to the art of tournament fighting.”
“From 1978 to 1981 he was on the top of the heap of tournament fighters, accepting his place of pride with an easy, humorous and breeze style. This is a man who once claimed he followed the “worst diet in the world,” who championed spaghetti as his favored training food, and who described his style of kicking as spaghetti kicks. He was light, easy, possessing a sense of humor – and in the words of John Corcoran, the former editor of Kick Illustrated, “a damn good tournament fighter” when it came down to brass tacks in the competitive ring. And Vitali was always the odds-on favorite to pick up all the tacks-and the Grand Championship trophy.”          

                                                                        Inside Karate Magazine

Hall of Fame & Top 50 Point Fighters of the Decade
“Known for his side kick and backfist combinations, Keith Vitali won or placed in every major karate tournament in which he entered in the United States from 1978 o 1981. Vitali was known for being a gentleman in and out of competition as he was for his ability and skill as a martial artist. He was recognized for bringing respect to the martial arts as well as for the different training methods Americans used. Vitali won the Battle of Atlanta in 1978 and 1979 and was the No 1 point fighter for three years prior from competition. He was inducted into Black Belt Hall of Fame in 1981, as Competitor of the Year.”

                                                                        Fighter Magazine

1977- Top-Ten Karateka in the United States
“Keith Vitali placed first or second in 16 tournaments between 1977 and 1978. Some of his accomplishments include winning 1st place in Miami Tournament of Champions, The National Korean Championships in Atlanta, GA: the Memphis in May Festival Grand Championship in Tennessee” The South Carolina Open, The Birmingham in Alabama, The Richard Kimmey Championships in South Carolina and in three Pro-Am’s – One in Atlanta, GA, one in St Petersburg, FL and one in Jasonville, FL.”

                                                                        Black Belt Magazine

1979 – Karate Illustrated – Competition ratings
“Keith Vitali – Rated the Number-One Fighter in America in 1979

Keith Vitali was the 1979 Battle of Atlanta and Star Wars Grand Champion. In the 1979 PKA Nationals in Los Angeles, CA, Vitali again took the Grand Championship with victories over Ray McCallum, Steve Fisher and Eddie, “Flash” Newman.”

                                                                        Karate Illustrated Magazine               

The STAR System – 1980 National Ratings
“Keith Vitali – Rated Number-One Fighter of the Year.

One of 1979’s big battles took place at the PKA Nationals where Keith Vitali outfoxed Ray McCallum to win the “Joe Lewis Cup.” On the way to that victory, Vitali also zapped California’s Steve Fisher. Vitali, the STAR System Number-One-Ranked National Point Champion also won the prestigious Battle of Atlanta for the second consecutive year.”

                                                                        Inside Kung-Fu Magazine

1978 –The Top Three-Dozen Point Fighters in America and the KI Rating System.
“Keith Vitali – Rated the Number-One Fighter in America in 1978.”

                                                                        Karate Illustrated Magazine

Keith Vitali – “In karate tournament competition, where we often have a situation in which A can beat B, B can beat C, but C can beat A, it is often quite impossible to establish any finality who is the best tournament fighter in any given region. If there is one exception to this complex principle of combat, it is probably the case of Keith Vitali, who though has been beaten on occasion, Keith consistently dominates competition around the Southeast. Appearing on this month’s cover, Keith not only captured the Star Wars Grand Championship at this year’s Battle of Atlanta, but his string of ’78 victories was such that only one month of the year was he bumped from the number-one person in KI’s Regional Ratings.” 

                                                                        Karate Illustrated Magazine

Keith Vitali – “Many experts feel 1980 was Keith’s best year. At 27, the Atlanta-based instructor still has the quick backfist and unnerving side kick that brought him to national prominence three years ago. Whatever his plans are for 1981, Vitali will long be considered one of the sport karate’s all-time greats.”

                                                                        Karate Illustrated, ’80 Yearbook Magazine