The New Gladiators (1974-2002)

The New Gladiators, financed by Elvis Presley, was found, restored and released in 2002.

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New GladiatorsFor years there has been a rumor that Elvis Presley financed a feature length documentary on sport karate in the 1970s entitled, “The New Gladiators.” American martial arts history books mentioned the film, but no one ever said they actually saw it. References indicated that it was an unfinished project that died with Elvis in 1977. Now, 25 years after the passing of Elvis Presley, the original 16mm film stock has been discovered and restored.

This feature film financed by Elvis Presley was found, restored and released in 2002, 30 years later after it was made. This remarkable film is fully narrated and even has an original soundtrack by David Crosby and Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, and Nash fame!

The New Gladiators, a film in the tradition of surfings Endless Summer, is about a group of the top karate fighters from the USA who travel the country and globe in search of the perfect tournament and opponents. The film feature fighting stars of the Golden Era of Karate in America in the mid 1970’s. It is a 93-minute documentary that chronicles the exploits of the U.S. Karate Team of Ron Marchini, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, Darnell Garcia, Tom Kelly, and John Natividad. Additional fighters showcased in the film include Steve Saunders, Roy Kurban, Ed Parker, Ticky Donavan, Geert Lemmens and other American and European stars of the day.

Great Historical Collector’s Piece

This story is so good, it sounds like a Hollywood story, which it is. For years there has been a rumor that Elvis Presley financed a feature length documentary on sport karate in the 1970s entitled, “The New Gladiators.”

American martial arts history books mentioned the film, but no one ever said they actually saw it. References indicated that it was an unfinished project that died with Elvis in 1977. Now, 25 years after the passing of Elvis Presley, the original 16mm film stock has been discovered and restored.

The “The New Gladiators” is a 93-minute documentary, narrated by Chuck Sullivan, that chronicles the exploits of the U.S. Karate Team of Ron Marchini, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, Darnell Garcia, Tom Kelly, and John Natividad between 1973 and 1974. Additional fighters showcased in the film include Steve Saunders, Roy Kurban, Ed Parker, Ticky Donavan, Geert Lemmens and other American and European stars of the day.

This remarkable film is fully narrated and even has an original soundtrack by David Crosby and Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, and Nash fame!

Directed by Bob Hammer
Produced by Don Warrener
Written by Elvis Presley, Ed Parker
Narrated by Chuck Sullivan
Starring Emil Farkas, Darnel Garcia, Roy Kurban, Ron Marchini and Benny Urquidez
Music by David Crosby, Graham Nash
Cinematography Allen Daviau, John Hora
Editing by Isaac Florentine, Don Warrener
Distributed by Rising Sun Productions
Release date(s) 2002
Running time 94 min.
Country United States
Language English