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Ready for Takeoff : Kick Boxer Benny the Jet, at 41, Readies for Bout With World Champion


He has won titles under American rules, which require players to wear more padding and forbid the use of elbows or blows to the head. And he has won them under less restrictive rules in Holland, Thailand and Japan. Although he is only 5-foot-6 and weighs 150 pounds, his legs are as big around as fence posts and his arms are as big many people's legs.


He has been working out with a coach, Stan Ward of Northridge, since August. He starts two hours of running and calisthenics each morning at 5:30. Ward said Urquidez was in decent shape when he started but had to shed about 10 pounds. Now the Jet is ready to take off, Ward said.

"He's a professional, he knows how to . . . psych himself up for a fight," Ward said. "My main thing is to keep him going, keep him in good shape, keep him sharp."

But Dale Floyd, president of the World Kickboxing Assn., said Urquidez will not have an easy time of it. Tagami is "young and really, really aggressive," Floyd said.

"This kid grew up watching Benny fight in Japan, and if he beats him, it will really make his name in Japan because he will have beat the legend," Floyd said.

But Urquidez also has something at stake. If he wins, Floyd said, "he'll prove . . . to himself that he's still got it . . . and he'll go out on a high note."

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