Saturday, June 22, 2024

Taylor Wily

Taylor Wily has recently passed away.

Many people will know him from his time on the reboots of Hawaii Five-O, Magnum PI and Macgyver. However, my memory of him dates back almost twenty-nine years.

Upon hearing the news, I thought back to 1995.

The media was in uproar about the new sport that had taken America by storm (it kind of hadn't at that point, but don't let that get in the way of a good story) and was 'barbaric'. 

And the video tapes of those events were about to hit store shelves the following day.

My friend and I headed to town that summer and purchased the first two VHS tapes of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. I bought the first event (which took place in 1993) and he picked up the tape of the second UFC event from March 1994.

We went back to his home and watched my tape. The very first match on that card saw a savate fighter kick a sumo wrestler in the face resulting in the ref calling off the match after only a few seconds.

The sumo wrestler - Teila Tuli - had blood pouring from a cut that was brought on by Gerard Gordeau's kick.

That was the first mixed martial arts fight I ever watched. I've watched plenty more since.

Tuli was Taylor Wily. So, many years later, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw him pop up on Hawaii Five-O while channel surfing. As a regular viewer of the MacGyver and Magnum PI reboots, it was fun to see Wily make brief cameos. However, he was a regular on Five-O.

Every time he would pop up, it would take me back to hanging around with my friends and owning the video tapes from those initial shows.

When the news broke of Wily's death, the reports pointed out his career as a sumo wrestler and star of those rebooted programmes. Me? Well, I wanted to acknowledge his role as being one of the pioneers of the early days in the Ultimate Fighting Championship's history. 

You cannot get more historic than being in the opening fight of a Pay-Per-View from a company that eventually became the juggernaut the UFC has become. Yes, the sport - and even the company itself - has changed since November '93, but don't let that discount the contributions from all associated with night one. 

Taylor Wily

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