TULSA, Okla. – Native American athletes throughout Oklahoma are commonly known for a dynamic three-point shot or for scoring a record setting touchdown – but for delivering a knockout karate kick?
Thomas “Thunderkick” Longacre, Muscogee and Absentee Shawnee by blood, is fast becoming a Native American icon in the world of Mixed Martial Arts.
With more than 20 years of martial arts experience, the reigning X-treme Fighting League lightweight MMA champion encompasses his Native American culture when preparing for a fight, which often begins at home with Longacre burning sage for strength and thinking good thoughts about an upcoming fight. However, as soon as he arrives at the site of a fight, a familiar ritual unfolds.
Before wrapping up, Longacre, 31, begins each fight journey with a prayer. He doesn’t pray for a win, instead he asks God for “The strength to fight my best and that no one gets seriously hurt.”
Then the war cries begin. Released from the depths of his soul, Longacre gives forth a warrior’s cry. Not just one, but a continuous series of deep echoing, sometimes ear-piercing screams – a sound his opponent usually is not expecting.
“After I pray, when I’m still in the dressing room, I begin the transformation into this warrior spirit. I want my opponent to know I’m bringing it. I want him to know I’m coming for battle. I’m coming to go to war,” Longacre said. “So I begin hollering louder and louder to make sure my opponent hears me. Then when he sees me, and I’ve got my game face on and I’m hollering directly at him, my opponent knows I’m definitely in the zone.”
Longacre is proud of his Native American heritage and hopes he’s become a good role model for Native Americans in general. He wants fans to know he’s a good guy with great fighting skills.
To see Longacre on the street, no one would ever assume he’s a world champion fighter. He explains that a good fighter wears two hats, sort of like Clark Kent turning into Superman. Or as he describes it, “In my case, I’m turning into this crazy Mohawk wearing guy that’s ready for war!”
Once outside the ring, that warrior-driven ego is immediately turned off.
“I’m not one of those fighters that walk around thinking I can beat you up. Everyone tells me they would never think I’m a fighter. Then they see me in the ring and I’m a totally different person.”
Longacre’s martial arts journey
Currently 3-0-0 in MMA action, Longacre began a career in martial arts at the age of 6.
“My Mom (Nancie Warrior Longacre) was a fighter in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, so I’ve been around martial arts all of my life. I think my parents always knew I would be involved in martial arts, but I don’t think they expected me to be making a living at it.”
A student at Master Ted Soliday’s United Goju Karate Association, Longacre, third degree Goju Ryu, competed off and on in karate tournaments until the age of 20. Confident with his karate skills, Longacre signed up for his first full-contact kickboxing fight. He had no idea the fighting ring would be built in the middle of a local rodeo arena on top of a dirt pile.
As Longacre fondly remembers the details of that first fight, he can’t help but realize his first kickboxing win came in an arena where cows and horses usually compete.
“Yea, it was a bit crazy to fight in a rodeo arena,” Longacre said with a laugh. “Seriously though, I was nervous going into that first fight, but I was doing great in the karate scene. So when I knocked this guy out in the second round, well, I’ve been on a rollercoaster ride ever since.”
Not long after the win, Longacre began training with five time world champion kickboxer, Dale “Apollo” Cook, founder and promoter of the XFL and coach of the Chuck Norris’ World Combat League’s Oklahoma Destroyers team.
Through Cook’s mentorship, Longacre not only achieved third degree Taekwondo, he would go on to win a Universal Kickboxing Federation World Kickboxing Championship; a Mid-America Kickboxing Championship; and become the star of the WCL with 12 national television appearances on the Versus Network.
“Thomas has so many weapons, and he’s a smart fighter, so he knows how to use them and his courage is unmatched,” Cook said. “I am tremendously proud of Thomas, and I couldn’t be happier to see such a fine young man carrying on my name and tradition in the sport.”