Story by Boice Lydell
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Regena Thompson
photos by & Boice Lydell
Date of birth: May 1, 1978
Age: 28
Place of birth: Galveston, Texas, USA
Residence: Houston, Texas, USA
Marital status: Single
Ethnic origin: African-American
Style: Tae Kwon Do
School: Martial Arts America
Instructor: Ishmael Robles
Year started in martial arts: 1987
Year received black belt: 1991
Team: GOP 2000-Present
Sport karate coach: Chris Gallio
Favorite technique: Reverse Punch
First national win: 1993 Hurricane Nationals
Sport karate titles:
2005 - Women’s middleweight point sparring world champion
2004 - Women’s team sparring world champion
2003 - Women’s middleweight point sparring world champion
2003 - Women’s team sparring world champion
2000 - Women’s featherweight point sparring world champion
2000 - Women’s featherweight continuous sparring world champion
2000 - Women’s team sparring world champion
1999 - Women’s featherweight point sparring world champion
1999 - Women’s featherweight continuous sparring world champion
1999 - Women’s team sparring world champion
1998 - Women’s featherweight point sparring world champion
1998 - Women’s featherweight continuous sparring world champion
1997 - Women’s featherweight point sparring world champion
1997 - Women’s featherweight continuous sparring world champion
1997 - Women’s team sparring world champion
1996 - Girls’ 15-17 year old point sparring world champion
1996 - Girls’ lightweight continuous sparring world champion
1995 - Girls’ 15-17 year old point sparring world champion
1995 - Girls’ team sparring world champion
1993 - Girls’ 12-14 year old point sparring world champion
1993 - Girls’ team sparring world champion

Toughest forms/weapons opponent: Some 20 years ago or so, it was Eboni Adams
Toughest fighting opponent: Claire Cocozza
Sport karate career highlight: Tying for the most world titles with 20
Martial arts goal #1: To run a national tournament
Martial arts goal #2: To be the best woman fighter of all times
Favorite tournament: Super Grands
Favorite Super Grands: Super Grands XVI in Houston, because her parents were there to watch her fight Favorite sport karate players:
Past forms: David Douglas
Present forms: Steve Terada
Past fighting: Ishmael Robles
Present fighting: Jack Felton
Most admired martial artist: Chris Gallio
Most admired persons: Cindy Gallio and Jennifer Robles
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite movie: Friday Trilogy
Favorite actor: Money Mike
Favorite magazine: Sport Karate Magazine
Favorite book: Nervous
Favorite music: Hip Hop Rap
Favorite musician: TI
Favorite hobby: Chillin’, watching tv and karate
Favorite sport: Basketball and Football
Phone: (832) 797-1813

Preparing to write a short cover story about a 20 title, sport karate world champion is about as challenging as arranging all the staff a Super Grands and then trying to run the event with only five of those staff members. Somehow it doesn’t seem possible to even scratch the surface of the Regena Thompson saga in this short essay. Writing about Thompson is as if one was compiling a short history of the NBL itself. As the writer of this tedious task, I’m sitting here with stacks of magazines dating back to 1992 along with half a dozen phone numbers, compiling her daunting statistics and refreshing myself on the countless highlights of her incredible sport karate career.

Now in my second hour of statistical analysis it is slowly sinking in that after all Regena’s complaining and whining about perhaps having an additional uncounted world title, it may very well be a fact. In fact it is! But one would hate to completely give in and tell her she was right for fear of the all the torment she’ll put you through afterwards, so I’ll just use the excuse that she never was able, nor did she even attempt to prove the surmised error in hopes that I’ll be spared her wrath.

Yes, Regena has 21 sport karate world titles leaving her as stand alone super woman grandchampion of the most titles in history topping Adrian Ulanoff who’s record of 20 world titles reigned from 1998 to 2005. It must go uncontested that Thompson surely rates as one of the top five women’s fighters of all times and perhaps the number one of the last ten years, give or take.

Assessing Thompson’s team lineage is certainly a walk down NBL memory lane. She represented her instructor, Ishmael Robles’ school team, the Herricanes in Super Grands play from 1993-95 before being picked up by the Houston based, Neal Adams’ Firefighters team in 1996. Her increased exposure led her to the newly formed national Team Kani that shocked the sport karate world in 1997-98 winning the majority of the adult fighting titles those years. Jay Rubinfeld’s Team Kani became Team Outlaws in 1999 and Regena remained a member until its demise. When Richard Plowden’s SES Team entered the scene in the year 2000 she was the famed anchor woman for that team. This powerhouse remained a leader into the following year when it disbanded. In 2001 she returned to her Texas roots being sponsored by Cindy Gallio and then taking a position on Gallio’s Team GOP in 2002 where she has called home ever since. Not only has she represented four of the most premier teams in sport karate history but in various women’s team sparring matches she’s also represented Team Full Contact, Sherman Oaks Raiders and Team Leiker International. Wow! Who else could ever boast that line-up of representation.

Putting on a show in a sparring match may be considered her main contribution to the sport, but many agree that Thompson’s entertainment on the sidelines, in the audience or at after tournament gatherings may be of equal amusement. She may be challenged as queen in the ring but when it comes to amusement Regena has always been the undisputed center of attention. Never one to hold back, she tells it as she sees it, and always with that charismatic devilish look that makes one not want to believe a word she’s saying, but compelled to listen because she’s so entertaining.

In the audience she a hoot atop chairs screaming for her favorite player or waving whatever she can find in the air. And on the sidelines or in the studio she’s a demanding coach; serious, determined and unrelentless, just ask her protegee Chris Gallio. As Chris has found out if you don’t show up and haven’t performed like she wanted she will hunt you down, torment you, embarrass you and drill you till you drop and if you don’t win she makes you know its your own fault and pushes you even harder. Rumor has it that Chris has even gone into hiding when he knows she’s mad at him.

But her drive to push a student to exhaustion is also the indication of her caring attitude and determination to make sure that anyone that represents her performs to the utmost of their ability. She proudly admits that converting former weapons world champion Chris Gallio into winning the 12-13 point sparring title in the 2002 Super Grands was the most exciting event of her career.

The most exciting event of her own prowess, she admits, was beating Marielle Elliott for the women’s middleweight point sparring world title in the 2003 World Games. Thompson’s record of those she’s topped for world titles reads like a who’s who of sport karate history; Jessica Covarrubias, Kris Pilgrim, Marielle Elliott, Andrea Awong, Shelly Allen, Ayana Cooper, Jennifer Tondu, Chantel Curry, Angela Hayes, Tara Gabelman and MaryLynn Maerten to name a few.

She has never won a forms title but don’t be fooled if you’re a newcomer of the last ten years. As recently as 1994 the archives attest to a seventh place in junior female contemporary forms at Super Grands V. Yes, all you non-believers, she did actually compete in forms. I wonder how much you could blackmail her for a video of one of those performances. She says she may compete in traditional forms sometime, but I’ll believe it when I see it. But who knows, anything is possible. After all she says she has changed her pace recently, as she’s less rambunctious, resigning from being the life of the party on occasion. She says she’s getting old and wants to settle down with a family and wants to eventually promote a national tournament. What? Did I hear that right?. Never-the-less there will always be Regena hot buttons that you can push to get her started, like mentioning Chris Gallio’s avoidance of her when he neglects to train. But she says, she’s in competition for the long haul and is committed to continue winning until the body wears out. Somehow I just think Regena will be around as long as sport karate exist. If not physically certainly in spirit as she has brought an everlasting impression to women’s sparring and certainly to the entertainment value for fans and participants.