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Sherman Bergman (nicknamed "Big Train" for his locomotive-like fighting style) is a retired South Florida kickboxer and martial artist credited with scoring 21 consecutive first round victories, as well as being the only United Statesmarker kickboxer to have fought Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Kickboxing career

Sherman(Big Train)Bergman

Sherman Bergman was born in Miami Beach, Florida in 1958. He was the only child of Hank Bergman an elementary school teacher and Anne Bergman, a house wife.Bergman became interested in boxing in 1971 following a bullying incident in junior high school. He became a fixture at the 5th Street Gym on Miami Beach and the Elizabeth Varrick Gym in Coconut Grove; where he was trained by his father Hyman "Hank" Bergman a former amateur boxer.After two years of training, Sherman, made his amateur boxing debut by knocking out Lee Brown in one round. It was also during this time that Sherman developed a keen interest in "contact" karate and began cross-training in both boxing and the French martial art of Savate. A natural left-hander, Bergman found it difficult to obtain matches and was relatively inactive.
β€ŽIn 1976, at Cape Canaveral, Florida, Bergman had his first full-contact karate match, knocking out Wilver Johnson in 18 seconds. Bergman's style of charging straight ahead, crouching down inches from the canvas, bobbing and weaving, and throwing non-stop punches, earned him the nickname, "Big Train". The sport of full-contact karate was in its infancy stages in Florida in the mid 1970s, and the majority of competitions were unsanctioned and were fought on traditional karate tournaments as "special attractions".By 1979, Bergman was 9-0, 9 knockouts in amateur boxing, and 2-0, 2 knockouts in full-contact karate. It was that year that he suffered his first defeat in an international match with Europe's Jean-Claude Van Damme who was fighting under his birth name of Jean-Claude Vandenbergh. After knocking Van Damme down with a left hook, the Belgium fighter climbed off the floor to knock out Bergman with an ax-kick in 56 seconds of the first round.
1979:Jean-Claude Van Damme knocks out Bergman with ax-kick.
A year later, Bergman was knocked out by future world lightheavyweight kickboxing champion, Gary Daniels of England at the Sunshine State Tournament in southern Florida.Following his loss to Daniels, Bergman went on a barnstorming tour of Florida and Georgia.
Sherman(Big Train)Bergman, 1979.
Fighting in such cities as Gulf Breeze, Apollo Beach, Cairo, Stone Mountain, and Dalton, he scored 12 consecutive first round knockouts. His streak earned him a write-up in Official Karate Magazine, where staff writer Barry Harrell tabbed Bergman, "as one of the best new fighters on his way to the top.. " However, even though Bergman's matches were listed in the STAR SYSTEM computerized database for full-contact karate and kickboxing, Paul Maslak said he was unable to rank Bergman. In a letter to Bergman's adviser Natalie Reade in 1982, Maslak wrote, "Bergman has had enough karate matches and should make an effort to get rated, STAR rated that is."However, Bergman suffered a first round technical knockout loss to Larry Byrd in the 1981 Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament in Coconut Grove, Florida, and received an injury to his Adam's Apple. A cronic eyelid injury followed, and Bergman retired in 1983.After a five year retirement, Bergman launched a comeback as a lightheavyweight (He had previously fought as a welterweight). In his first match back, Bergman knocked out Brazil's Alejandro DasCola (who was undefeated in 22 matches) in the first round. Four more first round knockouts followed, and a Miami Herald article touted a possible Bergman-Alvin Prouder match.On July 15, 1990, Bergman knocked out Carlos Andino to win his 21st consecutive first round kickboxing match. Bergman became the toast of the local South Florida martial arts scene. He rubbed elbows with actors and models. He became a fixture at the hottest night spots in Miami Beach and North Miami Beach. He had full-page write-ups in the Miami Herald, EDWORKS, and the Brazilian newspaper, Fundacion Brasil.However, in the summer of 1991 in Carolina, Bergman suffered a brutal knockout loss to obscure Brazilian club-fighter Mario Wilfredos. A month later, Argentina's Juan Portilla bombed out Bergman in one round. Sherman Bergman's fight career took a nose dive, and in a few short months, the crowds which had once surrounded him, and the spotlight which shown on him, were gone.Over the next eleven years, Bergman competed in relative obscurity on the minor league kickboxing circuit against a host of unknowns. It was during this time that his career as an English for speakers of other languages teacher for Adult & Community Education for Miami-Dade County Public Schools took off. Bergman who began teaching in 1981, became his school's teacher of the year in 1996. He was promoted to Department Chairperson and set a record at his school for having 14-consecutive classes with 100% graduation. Bergman also became active in numerous community service activities such as the Ronald McDonald House, The United Way, The Salvation Army, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Bergman used his martial arts training as a teaching tool to inspire many of his adult students to strive in school and also in living a healthy lifestyle.In 2002, Bergman reappeared on the Southern kickboxing scene when he won the All-Southern States Kickboxing Tournament.By 2004, he had won first place in 7-consecutive kickboxing tournaments. In 2008, he won a charity match for the Ronald McDonald House.On Tuesday, July 14, 2009, after 36 years of ring competition,Sherman Bergman announced his official retirement due to cronic injuries.

Kickboxing Record: 56-8-0 (56 Knockouts)

Date Opponent Result Method
??/??/1976 Wilver Johnson Won Knockout 1 round
??/??/1979 Chano Escamilla Won Knockout 1 round
11/??/1979 Jean-Claude Van Damme Lost Knockout 1 round
03/05/1980 Gary Daniels Lost Knockout 3 rounds
09/12/1980 Herman Forde Won Knockout 1 round
12/31/1980 Mac Burgess Won Knockout 1 round
07/04/1981 Wilver Johnson Won Knockout 1 round
09/07/1981 Robert James Won Knockout 1 round
12/30/1981 Tony-Antony Maradi Won Knockout 1 round
01/04/1982 Bradford Beasley Won Knockout 1 round
02/15/1983 Anton Machado Won Knockout 1 round
03/17/1983 Randolph Cole Won Knockout 1 round
04/01/1983 S.Q. Allen Won Knockout 1 round
05/07/1983 Micheal Buck Won Knockout 1 round
05/31/1983 Toshi Ryu Won Knockout 1 round
09/01/1983 Walter VonMcGee Won Knockout 1 round
03/04/1985 Morsak Muangsu Won Knockout 1 round
09/15/1988 Alejandro DasCola Won Knockout 1 round
09/17/1988 Mauro "Turk" Vasquez Won Knockout 1 round
09/19/1988 Walter VonMcGee Won Knockout 1 round
09/21/1988 Cobey Cobsen Won Knockout 1 round
09/25/1988 Guy Banton Won Knockout 1 round
05/07/1989 Carlos Andino Won Knockout 1 round
05/20/1990 Carlos Andino Won Knockout 1 round
07/15/1990 Carlos Andino Won Knockout 1 round
??/??/1990 Mario Wilfredos Won Knockout 3 rounds
08/02/1991 Mario Wilfredos Lost Knockout 3 rounds
09/27/1991 Juan "Rebelde" Portilla Lost Knockout 1 round
10/11/1991 Mario Wilfredos Won Knockout 1 round
08/31/1996 Bernardo Jua Won Knockout 1 round
07/05/1998 Jay Prazek Won Knockout 1 round
08/17/1998 Patrick Beckman Won Knockout 1 round
01/01/1999 Neal Draden Won Knockout 1 round
01/18/1999 Lee Mills Won Knockout 1 round
01/25/1999 Bunny Tarangelo Won Knockout 2 rounds
01/14/2000 Gordon Reynolds Won Knockout 1 round
01/23/2000 Joel Gomez Won Knockout 1 round
01/30/2000 Richard North Won Knockout 1 round
04/30/2000 Dan Troy Won Knockout 1 round
??/??/2000 David "Winnie" Winters Won Knockout 2 rounds
07/04/2000 Frank MaHaris Won Knockout 1 round
12/25/2001 Fexil "Karloff" Rios Lost Knockout 2 rounds
06/16/2002 Santiago Vergara Won Knockout 1 round
06/16/2002 Ricardo Massi Won Knockout 1 round
06/16/2002 Juan Montenegro Won Knockout 1 round
07/04/2002 Enrique Balquero Won Knockout 1 round
08/04/2002 Nicolas "T-Bird" Torres Won Knockout 2 rounds
08/04/2002 Marcelo Benazzi Won Knockout 1 round
01/19/2003 Molo Avendando Won Knockout 1 round
01/19/2003 Juan "Rebelde" Portilla Won Knockout 2 rounds
Andres Velazquez Lost Knockout 1 round
01/??/2009 Andres Velazquez Lost Knockout 3 rounds
07/14/2009 Announced retirement

Coaching career

2004:Martin Rebollo, Jeronimo Solis, Sherman Bergman

Bergman is a 4th degree black belt and a certified instructor. From 2002 to 2004, Sherman Bergman mentored South American martial artists Jeronimo Solis, Luis Carvalho, Martin Rebollo,and Derwin Portilla. Solis(19-8-0) was a Florida NASKA and 2-time Miami point-fighting champion. Carvalho(9-3-0) was a karate champion in Chile, South America. Rebollo (4-2-0)and Portilla(2-1-0) were Miami point-fighting champions.

Amateur Boxing

1975:Ken Norton-Sherman Bergman 5th Street Gym

From 1973-1983, Bergman was a Golden Glove amateur boxer who compiled a 17-4-0 (17 knockouts) record.

He was trained by his father-Hank Bergman (1973-1979), Jose Maceo (1980), Gary Ritter and Eddie Ludlow(1981). As an amateur, Bergman sparred with Ken Norton. Bergman was cornered by Benjamin "Evil Eye" Finkel (1973-1974). Bergman trained at the 5th Street Gym in Miami Beach, and the Elizabeth Varrick Gym in Coconut Grove, Florida.

At the 1981 South Florida Regional Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament in Coconut Grovemarker, Floridamarker, Bergman lost by first round technical knockout to Larry Byrd in the 147-pound Open Division.

Tournament Competition

Date Opponent Result Method Event
03/05/1980 Gary Daniels Lost Knockout 3 rounds Sunshine State
02/??/1981 Larry Byrd Lost Knockout 1 round 10th Annual South Florida Golden Gloves
??/??/1982 Cornelious Drane Lost unavailable Southern Regional Golden Gloves
??/??/1983 Willie McGee Lost unavailable Southern Regional Golden Gloves

Personal life

Elayne Weisburd, Sherman Bergman, Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower

Bergman was born in Miami Beachmarker, Floridamarker to Hyman and Anne Bergman. He is an only child. Bergman graduated from Miami Beach Senior High Schoolmarker in 1976. He is a graduate of Miami Dade College, Florida International Universitymarker, and Nova Southeastern University. He has a Bachlors Degree in Psychology and a Masters Degree in TESOL. Bergman works as an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

On Friday, April 24, 2009, at the Palms South Beach Hotel, Bergman was one of nine finalists for the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, 2008-2009 Elayne Weisburd Excellence in Education Award. David Reese, a teacher at Miami Beach Senior High Schoolmarker won the award.


Bergman studied acting with famed drama teacher Jay W. Jensen. Jensen's students included Andy Garcia, Brett Ratner, and Mickey Rourke.

As a child, Bergman appeared on the television shows: Jumping Jack, Skipper Chuck, Charlie Baxter's Big Top, and Banjo Billy. He also acted in the stage play 10,000 Baskets directed by Lois Brooks.

Bergman worked as an actor, extra, and stunt performer in over 35 movies.




  • Miami Herald, Tuesday, July 14, 2009, Sports Section, page 6D, Kickboxing: 'BIG TRAIN' IS DONE, by Jim Varsallone.
  • Miami Herald, Thursday, August 7, 2008, pages 11–12, Neighbors: SCHOOL SCENE, FIGHTING FOR RONALD, by Micaela Hood.
  • Tre Today News (Xuat Tinh Som), December 31, 2007: "SAO" & "SAO": JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME.
  • Day by Day in Jewish Sports History by Bob Wechsler, Publisher: KTAV Publishing House, Inc., Published date: October 2007, Sherman Bergman, pages 197, 386.
  • Miami Herald, Thursday, November 22, 2007, page 15, Neighbors MB: SCHOOL SCENE, A HELPFUL GIFT, by Micaela Hood.
  • The Beach Umbrella, Volume 1, Issue 3, April 28, 2008: English for the Silver Screen.
  • The Beach Umbrella, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2007, page 2: Students United in Helping Their Community.
  • The Beach Umbrella, Volume 1, Issue 1, page 3: In Memoriam: Jay W. Jensen, Teacher To The Stars.
  • The Beach Umbrella, Summer/Fall 2006, page 3: 10,000 and Counting.
  • Internet Movie Database, 2006.
  • Miami Herald, Neighbors MB, Thursday, January 19, 2006, pages 16–17:SCHOOL SCENE, by Estephanie Resnik.
  • Miami Herald, Thursday, August 4, 2005, page 12, Neighbors MB: HELPING OUT, by Estephanie Resnik.
  • Miami Herald, Sunday, January 30, 2005, Neighbors, page 37: LEARNING ENGLISH.
  • Miami Herald, January 2, 2005, Neighbors MB, page 44: REMEMBERING.
  • Miami Herald, November 28, 2004, Neighbors, page 37: MARTIAL ARTS.
  • Miami Herald, November 21, 2004, Neighbors MB, page 37: CELEBRATING WAR VETERANS.
  • Miami Herald, October 3, 2004, MB, page 32: KARATE CHAMPS.
  • Miami Herald, Sunday, August 22, 2004, Neighbors MB, page 37:KNOCKOUT KICKBOXERS.
  • Miami Herald, Sunday, August 15, 2004, Neighbors, page 27: ESSAY WINNER.
  • Miami Herald, Sunday, July 25, 2004, Neighbors MB, page 32: HEROES REMEMBERED.
  • Miami Herald, May 23, 2004, MB, page 30: KARATE CHAMPS.
  • Miami Herald, May 2, 2004, Neighbors MB, page 34: HELPING OUT.
  • Miami Herald, April 11, 2004 MB, page 27: KARATE CHAMPS.
  • The Fien-Print, March 2004, Volume I, Issue 11, page 4: FIENBERG-FISHER HELPS HOMELESS DURING "12 MONTHS OF GIVING".
  • Miami Herald, Sunday, December 7, 2003, Neighbors MB, page 20: TAB CAMPAIGN HELPS MCDONALD HOUSE.
  • Miami Herald, August 31, 2003, Neighbors, page 34: PUTTING ON A PRODUCTION, by Carli Tipoff.
  • Cultural Arts Society Presents: An Introduction to the Dance 2003, April 8, 2003, page 3: ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.
  • Miami Herald, Sunday, February 2, 2003 MB, page 26: CHAMPIONS.
  • Miami Hearld, August 18, 2002, NeighborsBC, page 28 MB: ESOL STUDENTS PLACE IN KARATE CHAMPIONSHIPS.
  • Fien-Print, Volume 1, Issue 9-Summer 2002, page 3: IT'S NEVER TOO LATE-SHERMAN BERGMAN IS ON THE COMEBACK TRAIL, by Jairo Naranjo.
  • Miami Herald, Neighbors MB, Sunday, June 30, 2002, page 26:ADULT ED.
  • Argentina-Hoy, 14 de Agosto de 2001, Interes General, page 16: GRADUACION.
  • Miami Herald, Neighbors MB, Sunday, November 18, 2001, page 39: CONTRIBUTION, by Annette Collazo.
  • The Chalkboard, April 2001, Volume 1, Issue 5: SHERMAN BERGMAN, by Jairo Naranjo.
  • Miami Herald, Sunday, August 13, 2000, Neighbors MB, page 4: INSTRUCTOR MARTIALS HIS STUDENTS TO SUCCEED by Melisma Cox.
  • Miami Herald, Saturday, June 17, 2000, page 7B: SATURDAY SPEAKUP, A RESCUE, HEARTFELT THANKS.
  • Miami Herald, October 22, 1999, Neighbors MB, page 26: NO KIDDING, IT'S A SCHOOL FOR ADULTS.
  • Black Belt Magazine, September 1998, page 168: LETTERS: UFC WIN SPURS COMEBACK.
  • Miami Herald, Neighbors MB, Sunday, December 28, 1997, page 17:ESOL GRADS.
  • Miami Herald, Neighbors MB, Sunday, May 4, 1997, page 30: 550 STUDENTS GRADUATE FROM LANGUAGE PROGRAM.
  • News For You, October 2, 1996, page 4: IT'S NEVER TOO LATE, by Marlene Santiago.
  • News For You, May 8, 1996, page 4: TEACHERS ARE SPECIAL, by Lori Gonzalez DeVasquez.
  • Miami Herald, Thursday, September 24, 1995, 4, Neighbors MB: BOXER'S REAL KICK IS TEACHING.
  • Miami Herald Thursday, September 24, 1995, Neighbors NMB: BOXER'S REAL KICK IS TEACHING ENGLISH, by Moshe Alexenberg.
  • Fundacao USA Brasil, December 1993, page 3, CHAMPION OUR CHAMPION, by Vera Lins Ferst.
  • Miami Herald, Thursday, November 25, 1993: POPULAR TEACHER, by Annika Butardo.
  • Miami Herald, ?/?/1993, Speak Out: KICK-BOXING HELPS TEACH.
  • Miami Herald, Sunday, September 22, 1991 MB, page 38: TEACHER GETS HIS KICKS IN CLASSROOM AND RING, by Johnny Diaz.
  • Miami Herald, December 24, 1990, Neighbors MB, page 18: COUNTDOWN ON THE COMMUNITY CENTER.
  • PDK Newsletter, October 1990, Volume 45, Issue 2,Front Page, Chapter 0086-*Phi Delta Kappa: FEED THE NEEDY, by Arnie Notkin.
  • PDK Newsletter, 1990: CAMILUS HOUSE PROJECT, by Arnie Notkin.
  • Miami Herald, July 12, 1990, 6, Neighbors MB: KICKBOXER INSPIRES STUDENTS, by Johnny Diaz.
  • The Trendsetter, Vol. 2, No. 1, September/October 1989, page 5: INSPIRATION.
  • Miami Herald, September 29, 1988, Neighbors MB: NEIGHBORS IN SPORTS-SHERMAN BERGMAN IS ON THE COMEBACK TRAIL, by Jeremy Kroll.
  • Official Karate Magazine, November 1985, page 14: SOUTHERN EXPOSURE by Barry Harrell.
  • Official Karate Magazine, November 1984, page 14: SOUTHERN EXPOSURE by Barry Harrell.
  • STAR SYSTEM World Ratings, June 20, 1983, letter to Natalie Reade regarding fight results of Sherman Bergman in the Star System computer for historical reference, from Paul Maslak, Chief Administrator, The Star System.
  • Miami Herald, February 24, 1983, Sports, page 8E: BOXING: WATSON STOPS GRAY IN THIRD.
  • Miami Herald, February 11, 1982, Sports: ADVANCE IN GLOVES QUALIFYING.
  • THE STAR SYSTEM(Standard Tournaments and Rating System), January 25, 1982, letter to Natalie Reade-Regarding Sherman Bergman from Paul Maslak (STAR Ratings Statistician).
  • Miami Herald, February 22, 1981, Sports: HICKS IS A KNOCKOUT IN GOLDEN GLOVES CARD.
  • Miami Herald, March 6, 1980, Sports: VETERANS BOW OUT EARLY.

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