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Tuesday, December 27, 2005
"No Holds Barred" Special Preview Show: World Sumo Challenge and Mayhem On Mulberry Muay Thai Events in New York
All that is required is a media player which plays RealPlayer.
This first special preview show -- there likely will be at least one more -- focuses primarily on the debut show of the World Sumo Challenge, which was held Oct. 22 at New York's Madison Square Garden.
As I have reported on my No Holds Barred blog, this event had two showings in the U.S. on ESPN2, the first on Dec. 24 and the second on Friday, Dec. 30, from 10 PM EST to midnight. Make sure to watch it if you have not done so already.
For "No Holds Barred" we conducted numerous interviews. Here are the people with whom we spoke:
Former yokozuna Musashimaru, who served as a color commentator and analyst on the ESPN2 telecast.
Veteran boxing trainer Tommy Gallagher, who was also working with this event.
Ken Podziba, head of the New York City Sports Commission, which assisted this event.
Noah Goldman, president and CEO of Big Boy Productions, which produced and promoted the event.
Yoshisada Yonezuka, a vice president of the International Sumo Federation and longtime judo coach, who acted as a sumo technical advisor for the event.
We also spoke with two of the participants, sumo wrestlers Ronny Allman of Norway and Sydney Carty of the Netherlands.
In addition, at the Mayhem On Mulberry 5 muay Thai event held the night before the live sumo show, we caught up with two judo legends, Teimoc Jonston-Ono and Mike Swain. We discussed the sumo event, with which they both were attending, as well as judo, mixed martial arts, muay Thai, and the combat sports in general.
Also at the muay Thai event, we caught up with two of the fighters that night, Brian Robertson, who won a decision over Marcus Antebi, and Willow Chanthavong, who lost a decision to Liz Linstrom.
As we mentioned during this special preview show, the World Sumo Challenge was highly organized, got tremendous mainstream media attention, and was very well received by the fans at Madison Square Garden. The telecast had excellent production values and the tournament format was well explained both at the live event and on TV. Plus, sumo is fairly easy for casual fans to understand, and the action on the mat was usually non-stop and had the mainly American crowd cheering throughout the tournament.
The major and perhaps only shortcoming was its inconsistency in educating the fans as to who the athletes were. For example, Torsten Scheibler, the 438.5-pound wrestler from Germany, had recently won the gold medal at the world championships in Japan. Yet he was upset in the first round by Sydney Carty, a mere 328.5 pounds. Yet this was only noted briefly after the match by Musashimaru, with Scheibler's credentials going almost unnoticed, and the huge sports story of this first-round upset not being emphasized.
Also, the event's first champion was Mitshuhiko Fukao, a 5'10", 411.5-pound wrestler from Japan. Little was known about Fukao before the event and less reported about him afterwards. There was no post-match interview with Fukao, who had become a crowd favorite, or a post-event press conference. Even though an interview with Fukao would have had to have been conducted in Japanese, there were numerous people who could have done the translating right there. Thus, Fukao is their first champion and will defend his title without much more information even to this date being provided about him.
Nonetheless, the World Sumo Challenge has to be considered overall a major success. A new professional combat sport is being born, and that is good news. Others in the combat sports world can learn a lot from how this event was organized and conducted.
If you have any comments, you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Finally, for technical reasons (mainly to keep the audio file smaller and use less bandwidth), this show was posted in RealPlayer format rather than MP3 format. If enough people prefer it in MP3 want to be able to download it as a podcast, we could consider starting to do that as well.
Look for more information about the next step in the revival of "No Holds Barred", and keep checking out my blogs on Blogger and Ourmedia.org .