By DAN BARNES Gazette Staff Writer – October 9, 1985
George Manoli will hop continents for a chance to kick rival countryman Raynald Campbell.
Something like ‘I’d fly a thousand miles for a Campbell. ‘
Their rivalry is just as old as the joke, harking back to Japan in 1980 when Campbell, Canada’s top-ranked non-contact karate fighter, beat Manoli 1-0 in overtime to win the All-Japan Championship.
Manoli, a hard-contact ,karate fighter and instructor from St. Albert, traded kicks and punches with Campbell again last month in Brisbane for the All-Australia Championship.
And he got more than he bargained for from Campbell again as the heavyweight title was plucked from his grasp Sept. 28 in the last 30 seconds of their final fight.
It was the closest Manoli has come to international gold in three international tournaments.
“1 had the right. 1 had the fight,” Manoli lamented Monday, looking punchy after a 24-hour flight.
“1 was beating him 3-1 then I guess I lost my concentration in the last 30 seconds and he won 4-3. He’s mostly a hand person. He uses the knockout punch like in boxing. It’s called the reverse punch.”
Manoli wasn’t beaten so much physically as mentally he said. “I settled down since I was ahead. I thought I’d rather wait for him to come to me but I was winning because I had been picking away at him.
“So I was into his game plan. It’s all mental for him and that’s what I learned.”
Manoli translated for Campbell who speaks only French. They got to know each other well a.nd talked about their last fight in 1980.
“He’s a nice guy and everything,” said Manoli, “but karate is his whole life. That’s all he does.” , and he does it well. Back in Japan Campbell didn’t allow a single point against him. That very fact had Manoli smiling after scoring three points in their fight.
“I was disappointed to finish second (in the 30-fighter division) but I know that I’ve improved. Last time I fought him he was unbeatable. Not one person scored a point on him.
“I hope to meet him again” at the next international full contact tournament, scheduled for China in 1987. They may meet sooner if both choose to travel to Japan for their annual tourney in 1986.
Before leaving for Australia, Manoli hinted this may be his swan song but he changed his tune after the success of international silver.
“At that time I wasn’t very confident.” But with international gold still to ,shoot for, he’s not about to pack up his head gear.
And he may be even busier this year than last after being selected to organize any and all children’s international tournaments for 1986. He’s working on exchange programs with schools in California, New York Australia and Japan.
He will also be preparing his St. Albert students for the 1987 tourney in China. “They’ll definitely be ready,” he said.
The Brisbane tournament was poorly attended as only six nations were represented; Canada, New Zealand, U.S.A., Japan, Australia and Korea.
In his four preliminary bouts Manoli was undefeated and surrendered just one point in a fight with another member of the Canadian team.
Two Canadian women won their divisions and Conrad Pia, a Canadian middleweight, took gold and was named the tournament’s most improved fighter.