Considering Korea, probably Fedor!
but it was probably B.Lee or Liddell.
kano by a mile
Bruce Lee - an actor more than a martial artist imo but certainly influenced a lot of people (including me) to get into martial arts
Punchocles, the inventor of hitting people in the face.
Squared Circle - Punchocles, the inventor of hitting people in the face.
LOL, nice, can I change my vote to Punchocles ?
Coleman invented GNP. Before him wrestlers would take down their opponents and hold them until someone dies of exhaustion. He told them that they could punch too and the world was never change
Royce Gracie for showing most of the world the power of Grappling....
Without him the majority of us would still be doing Kata's and thinking Stand up Martial Arts fighting was the end all be all...
And Rorion for putting it out there for the world to see...
The Epiphany of Punchocles VTFU, LOL
Overhand Write - The Epiphany of Punchocles VTFU, LOL
Kano, without a doubt
no Kano, no randori, no modern martial art
No Kano, no judo = no bjj, no sambo, no sanshou/san da (YES! direct line since sanshou/sanda got randori idea from Sambo who got it from judo)
This is an ever evolving question.
Each of those mentioned had their influence in their time.
A child of the 60s, I have my own list of martial artists from the Karate and Kung Fu(Gung Fu) crazes of the late 60s/early 70s that shaped the pre-MMA view of martial arts in the USA.(
Those who remember will know them by last name: Lewis,Stone,Wallace,LaPuppet,Tegner.... Norris. Competitors and teachers who brought a new way of fighting to a mystified yet eager audience. I'm leaving out so many luminary names, but my point is this was an exciting time for those of us who were caught up in it.
And then there was Bruce Lee.
Like some sort of ass kicking ambassador, he ushered in a new era: martial arts were cool. You didn't have to be tied to a style, do what works, right now.
Then twenty years later, a skinny Brazillian stood all we knew on it's collective ear. I can beat you without punches, without kicks, those are just to set my trap. I will make you quit. My name is Royce Gracie.
Then fighters figured out how to beat BJJ. The era of the mixed martial artist was born.
Feel free to restate my history from your own perspective.
That sculpture is awesome. The epitomie of the pugilist.
The earliest Olympic event, as far as I know, is sitting on a rock facing an opponent who is wearing the same leather belts studded with bronze on his fists as you are. Punch each other until one can't continue, you have a winner. This and running in a straight line to a finish line are the most essential competitions possible.
BeerMuscles - The answer is not just one person.
here's my list (not in any order):
Carlos & Helio Gracie
Karl Gotch/Billy Robinson
Sugar Ray Robinson
if you asked random people on the street who any of those people are, they will only know Bruce and Ali.
But in the martial arts world it has to be Dan Inosanto... he has been on the cutting edge of martial arts training methods since he started with Bruce.
Bruce Lee was the father of modern MMA - his vision was already projected through his movies like Enter the Dragon and Game of Death ... fingerless gloves, transitioning the fight from standup to takedown to submission. Unfortunately he died before he could develop it further and it took another 20 years before we had the UFC.
Baboo Baby gets an honorable mention I must add.
Bruce Lee wins hands down!!! First one to teach and promote mixing the arts including western boxing and wrestling and ignoring the MA politics and taking what works and throwing out the bullshit that didn't work. He was a real martial artist first and an actor second. he changed the martial arts for ever and MMA is the culmination of his vision.