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Saturday, January 21, 2006
(Well, it's free to look!)
Approving this deal: Don King, Bob Arum, and HBO Pay$Per$View.
Is there any truth to the rumor that this triad has also called NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue trying to get the Giants to play the Colts in this year's Super Bowl?
Denver plays Pittsburgh Sunday in the AFC championship game, starting at 3 PM ET on CBS in the U.S.
Since one of them will make it to the Super Bowl, lovers of things hirsute now have an extra reason to get lathered up about the big game.
And for an analysis of this Sunday's AFC and NFC title games, plus links to photos of the teams' cheerleaders, check out the number one NFL expert who drinks at Yogi's, Paul Katcher.
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Mixed Martial Arts: Frank Shamrock to Fight Cesar Gracie March 10 in San Jose, CA, in First State-Sanctioned Card
The first legal and sanctioned mixed martial arts card in California not on Native American land will be held Friday, March 10, at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. The main event will feature a former perennial MMA fighter of the year, until he retired, Frank Shamrock, facing a member of the First Family of MMA, Cesar Gracie.
California's athletic commission had actually approved rules to regulate MMA several years ago, but has only begun receiving funds from the state for the administrative costs to implement them. This initial outlay will no doubt be made up very quickly in various fees.
This should also serve as a lesson to those few backwards states which still outlaw MMA -- are you listening New York? -- that they should adopt legislation similar to the laws already in force in states including Nevada, New Jersey, and now California.
The event also marks the entry into the MMA promotional game of Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment (SVSE). This organization has wide experience promoting events in the world of sports, including promoting "Miller Lite Fight Night" boxing events as well as those of the National Hockey League's San Jose Sharks. Hopefully this event will be promoted as a real sport, and not as a knockoff of the fake pro "wrestling" but with real fights, as some other MMA promoters have been doing.
For those who cannot get to San Jose for this historic event, we have been informed that a TV deal is in the works and will be announced shortly.
Here is the press release announcing this fight card:
***For Immediate Release***
For more information, contact Mike Afromowitz
Shamrock-Gracie Finally A Go
Cung Le To Debut In California's Historic First MMA Event
January 10, 2006; New York, NY….Mixed martial arts's oldest family rivalry will be re-ignited when former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight king Frank Shamrock (20-7-1) collides with undefeated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Cesar Gracie (14-0) in a showdown at San Jose, California's HP Pavilion on Friday, March 10th. Undefeated world San Shou kickboxing champion, Cung Le (16-0 (10 KO's), will make his highly anticipated mixed martial arts debut while rising star Josh "The Punk" Thomson (10-1 (1 no contest) and seasoned veteran Eugene Jackson (12-7-1) will return to action during what will be the first mixed martial arts fight card sanctioned in California since the sport was officially legalized there last month.
"This guy came out and challenged me, hid behind his name, hid behind his students and, now, I'm finally gonna get a crack at him," said Shamrock of his opponent and the feud that has been brewing between the two for the last two years. "I've always wanted to fight a Gracie and they've always ran from me but, suddenly, this one's gone nuts so I'm gonna take care of him."
At 33 years of age, Shamrock, a San Jose resident, is recognized as one of the greatest forces in mixed martial arts's 12-year history. During his career, he has defeated the likes of former UFC light heavyweight king Tito Ortiz; Bas Rutten; and 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist, Kevin Jackson, whom he stopped in a world record 14 seconds by way of armbar submission. His victory over Japan's Minoru Suzuki in January of 1996 earned Shamrock the prestigious King Of Pancrase championship.
The matchup with Gracie will be Shamrock's first since March 27, 2003 when he easily submitted Bryan Pardoe by way of armbar in less than two minutes. In 1999, Shamrock temporarily retired to pursue a career in Hollywood. To date, he has appeared in the former HBO hit prison drama series, OZ, and Chuck Norris's former CBS television blockbuster series, Walker Texas Ranger, as well as a nationally televised spot for fast food conglomerate, Burger King. Later this year, Shamrock will make his silver screen debut in the cage fighting drama No Rules that stars Gary Busey, Pamela Anderson, and Tom Sizemore. The film also features appearances by mixed martial arts legends Randy Couture and Don Frye.
A veteran of over 200 Jiu-Jitsu contests, Gracie has become a fixture in Pleasant Hill, California where, as a trainer, he has produced a host of world-class mixed martial arts talent by imparting on his students the teachings of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, the progressive style of combat conceived in the early part of the 20th century by his grandfather, Carlos. "This is a great opportunity for me to showcase my skills," said Gracie. "Of course there's a lot of pressure in terms of upholding the family legacy but, ultimately, the only person I can represent is me and I'm going to do that and show the world what I'm made of when I come face to face with Frank."
The Shamrock-Gracie saga began twelve years ago when Gracie's cousin, Royce, defeated Shamrock's brother, Ken, en route to becoming champion of the first-ever UFC. The two fought to a draw during a rematch a year and a half later.
Le's transition from the world of stand-up combat serves as a response to fight fans who have long beckoned the 185-pound limit, Vietnamese-born fighter to test his superior technique in the fiercely competitive waters of mixed martial arts.
Le's last start came on June 4th at the HP Pavilion where he earned a unanimous decision over Shamrock protégé, Brian Ebersole, in a bout contested under San Shou rules. Le is also a four-time victor of K-1 "Superfights" staged in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Thomson is a veteran of both the UFC and Japan's Pride Fighting Championship. His last start, a Muay Thai rules on the Le-headlined June 4th card, saw him quickly stop Toshiyuki Nakagawa only 54 seconds after the opening bell rang.
The matchup between Shamrock and Gracie was originally scheduled to take place on October 1st of last year. A delay in the proceedings necessary to ratify the bill sanctioning mixed martial arts in the state of California, however, caused a postponement of the bout.
Tickets for "Shamrock vs. Gracie" will officially go on sale on Saturday, January 28th at the HP Pavilion box office and at all Ticketmaster (408-998-TIXS) outlets nationwide. Tickets can also be purchased by calling the Ticketmaster hotline at 408-998-TIXS or by visiting Ticketmaster online at http://www.ticketmaster.com/. Ticket prices will start at $30.
Doors to the event will open at 5 PM Pacific Standard Time on March 10th. The first preliminary bout will begin at 6 PM.
The "Shamrock vs. Gracie" bill is being promoted and produced by Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment (SVSE, http://www.svse.net/), a leading producer of major sporting and entertainment events and the exclusive producer of such events for San Jose, California's largest entertainment arena, the HP Pavilion. SVSE's many properties include "Miller Lite Fight Night," world championship boxing; the National Hockey League's San Jose Sharks; and the annual ATP men's professional tennis "SAP Open" event.
Friday, January 20, 2006
This week's show will feature what may turn out ro be a decent scrap, between undefeated Brazilian fighter Valdemir Pereira (22-0, 15 KOs) and Thai veteran Fahproakob Rakkiatgym (50-3-0, 33 KOs) for the vacant IBF featherweight title, from the Foxwoods resort in Ledyard, Conn. Too often, however, this show is filled up with mismatches, one-sided set-up fights to showcase the lead promoter's breadwinner, and below-club level bouts involving inexperienced fighters who have no business being shown on prime time national TV.
Among the most interesting segments have been the talks with the show's special guests, usually top fighters of the past or present. This week Zahir Raheem will be in the Bristol, Conn., studio, previewing the rematch Sat. night between Erik Morales, whom Raheem defeated by unanimous decision last Sept., and Manny Pacquiao.
One of the most underrated boxing shows has been "Solo Boxeo" on the Spanish-language network Telefutura. Many boxing aficionados who speak little or no Spanish tend not to watch this show, but it often provides better match-ups, higher quality fights, and overall more top-flight fighters than appear on ESPN2.
This Friday, starting at 9 PM ET, the feature is a lightweight bout between undefeated José Miguel Cotto (26-0, 18 KOs, and older brother of WBO 140-pound champion Miguel Cotto) and journeyman Ubaldo Hernández (20-16-2, 10 KOs), from the Maywood Activities Center in Maywood, Calif.
Also tonight, "ShoBox" as usual also appears to feature what could be an interesting fight between two up-and-comers. The main event is a ten-round NABF super flyweight title fight between Nonito Donaire (13-1, 8 KOs) and Kahren Harutyunyan (13-2-3, 0 KOs). This starts at 11:00 PM ET/PT on Showtime and comes from the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif.
If these live fights don't do it for you, there is always ESPN Classic.
Tonight at midnight ET, they will show "Walcott-Charles: The Trilogy". And beginning at noon ET on Saturday, they will have another six-hour "Ringside" special, this time featuring part two of Muhammad Ali's greatest fights.
And, of course, Morales-Pacquiao 2 takes place Saturday from the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV, and in the U.S. on HBO pay-per-view. Also on Friday, HBO2 will rebroadcast Morales vs. Pacquiao 1 beginning at 11:15 PM ET/PT, followed by Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Pacquiao from November 15, 2003.
So sorry to all my favorite bartenders, but I've got some hot dates this weekend.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
While I was never one to go to a lot of live concerts of popular singers, I did see him perform once in the early 1970's at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater. Suffice it to say that those memories have lasted a lifetime, and Broadway will always be funky in large part because of him.
Modern-day soul singer Leela James, recently back in the U.S. from a tour of South Africa, is starting to attract a lot of attention.
Here is a press release about her latest award nomination. Note that this is not the usual bland press release, but that she uses it to explain her creative vision (boldface added).
Leela James Nominated for NAACP Image Award
BURBANK, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 01/18/2006 -- Acclaimed vocalist and songwriter Leela James has been nominated for a prestigious NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding New Artist category for her powerful and impassioned Warner Bros. Records' 2005 debut album "A Change Is Gonna Come."
"I want my music to be more than just good music," remarks James. "I would like it to challenge what is considered popular R&B music today. I want it to bring back good lyrics and real singing that touch people in their hearts, and melodies that stick to their ribs and nourish the soul."
It's a creative goal that has earned Leela James a lion's share of critical praise. "James captures the soulful essence of an era gone by," enthuses People Magazine. "Her husky vocals conjure shades of Mavis Staples, Betty Wright and Tina Turner." The Boston Globe singled out her "big, old-school voice and mission to put the soul back into soul music" while Elle Magazine raved about her "powerful, bluesy voice, tinged with an old-schooled tenderness that pushes past nostalgia."
The NAACP Image Awards is the nation's premier event celebrating the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice. The star-studded 37th Annual Image Awards will be broadcast nationally March 3rd on the Fox network. Check local listings for time and station.
Leela James is returning to the road with dates in the US, Japan, and Europe starting at the beginning of March.
Under the guise of fighting pornography, the Bush administration, fresh off its attempt to revoke the Fourth Amendment with its widespread NSA warrantless wiretaps and sharing of this information with other agencies, is now subpoenaing Google for "a broad range of material from its databases, including a request for 1 million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period, lawyers for the U.S. Justice Department said in papers filed Wednesday in federal court in San Jose."
This is "part of an effort to revive an Internet child protection law that was struck down two years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court on free-speech grounds."
And these opponents of the Bill of Rights call their opponents anti-American?
Meanwhile, bin Laden has just issued a new taped threat.
Whatever happened to Bush's saying of "Wanted Dead or Alive"?
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
We did just that on two media conference calls with these warriors and their teams, with Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach on Jan. 3 and Morales on Jan. 5.
The outcome of this fight is expected to be determined by numerous variables which may be different from last year's bout. After that fight, held in the super featherweight class of 130, Morales went up to lightweight at 135 to face Zahir Raheem on Sept. 10. The speedy and crafty Raheem thoroughly outboxed Morales to win a clear-cut unanimous 12-round decision in an upset that had many questioning whether Morales was beginning to fade. The loss meant that Morales had been defeated in two of three fights. This time, Morales will have to come back down to 130 to face Pacquiao, and the effects of that cutting weight after having fought at lightweight will have to factored in to any pre-fight analysis of what to expect.
Pacquiao, on the other hand, is a featherweight fighting four pounds up because that is where millions more dollars can be made than at his natural weight. His proclivity is in the power department, but that was nullified enough in their first fight by the bigger Morales to tip the balance away from Pacquiao. Also in that fight both fighters wore Winning gloves, derided by some as "pillows," rather than Pacquiao's favorite, Reyes gloves, known more as punchers' gloves. That concession was made in the fight contract by Pacquiao's now-departed handlers, and this time out he will get his wish to wear Reyes. But Morales, who has 34 KOs in his 51 fights, does not exactly give sponge baths in the ring, and he may switch to a glove which is supposed to help the power punchers.
Pacquiao is supposedly more mentally prepared and focused for this fight than the first one last March. He has changed promoters and managers, and his team has said that there will be no massive entourage of fans, hangers-on, and freeloaders distracting him from what he must do in the ring. He will supposedly also not have to worry about being shortchanged or ripped off by those who have dotted the i's and crossed the t's for him. Morales has also since dismissed his father as his chief trainer.
Of course, what happens in the ring Jan. 21 will answer many if not all of these questions.
You can listen to our discussions with these fighters for free.
For our discussion with Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach, click here or here or here.
For our discussion with Erik Morales, click here or here or here.
These files are in MP3 format, so please allow a few moments for them to download.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Witherspoon has not fought in almost three years, losing his last two bouts to Lou Savarese and Brian Nix. He had been a trainer, but had trouble keeping fighters since, according to the article, he only sealed deals with handshakes and not contracts.
"The way things are today, you got to put something on paper," he is quoted as advising.
Go to the official John Coltrane site, click to enter it, and then just sit back and listen, listen, listen, for free, free, free, to the John Coltrane Quartet perform what is arguably the greatest jazz piece ever written: A Love Supreme.
Other of his great compositions, including his band's first rendition of My Favorite Things, will follow.
No, those deals will just have to wait.
After trying to discredit the pre-2001 UFC for years, the present owners of this promotion have decided that in order to increase their buy rates in 2006, they will call on the services of a fighter they suddenly acknowledge as being the best ever in that group: Royce Gracie, who fought in the first five UFC's, from 1993 to 1995, and later moved on to fighting in Japan in Pride and then K-1. He will now face UFC 170-pound champion Matt Hughes in a non-title fight in May.
So much for how unworthy the "old" UFC supposedly was.
And as usual, our buddy and colleague Kid Peligro was right on top of this story with an exclusive interview with Royce on ADCC News.
Monday, January 16, 2006
With Minnesota leading 15-14 in the team score, Oklahoma State fielded two-time NCAA heavyweight champion Steve Mocco, riding an 85-match winning streak. He faced his latest nemesis, Minnesota's Cole Konrad, who had beaten Mocco in a non-NCAA match at the NWCA All-Star Classic in November.
With the score, predictably enough, 1-1 in the third period, Konrad hit an inside trip to throw Mocco to his back. There, at 5:26, and certainly unpredictably, Konrad scored a pin on Mocco, giving Minnesota the upset win and Konrad the tournament's outstanding wrestler award.
A recorded telecast of the National Duals' finals between Oklahoma State and Minnesota will be shown on CSTV this Thurs., Jan. 19, beginning at 8:00 PM ET. CSTV will also be showing a lot of college wrestling in the coming weeks, so check your listings to make sure to catch it all.
The 2005 best-of show should especially be instructive to those who follow boxing and other sports who are not familiar with UFC. The best way to judge such a product is to examine it at its best.
But, as we have stated before, critical to UFC's recent ratings success has been its positioning as a spectacle similar to pro "wrestling," albeit with real fights.
That type of mindless hype is being continued with tonight's show, which both UFC and Spike promise will contain "the most important announcement in UFC history," blah, blah, blah. They thus are treating the dissemination of basic information about UFC as if it were some deep mystery that can only be doled out to the mindless peasants by the wise men of the monarchy.
In other words, they have ultimately positioned this as an event for dumb, uncritical, and naive people.
Of course, if you are disappointed with the UFC show tonight, just keep it tuned to Spike TV for something more sophisticated. At 3 AM ET, they will show their nightly hour of "The Three Stooges". Now that is indeed a product for the ages.
While it is pointless to debate the specifics about what Dr. King, who would have been 77 Sunday, would be doing today had he not been assassinated in 1968 and were still alive today, it is important to examine the glaring inequities and failures of the American medical system through his keen sense of justice.
Take the new privately-run Medicare prescription program that went into effect Jan. 1. The New York Times reports that already there are "tens of thousands of people unable to get medicines promised by Medicare," that "several states declared public health emergencies," and that "Many of the problems involve low-income people entitled to both Medicare and Medicaid."
While the Bush administration is telling "insurers that they must provide a 30-day supply of any drug that a beneficiary was previously taking, and it said that poor people must not be charged more than $5 for a covered drug," this gross inefficiency aimed at some of the most vulnerable people in our society is typical of the high cost, chronic errors, and overall injustice of the private health care system in America.
Those who worship the "free" market like some used to do Zeus have no explanation how in the field of health care, the private American system stacks up poorly against government-run national health care programs in the advanced Western countries of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Britain, and Germany.
A recent editorial in the St. Petersburg Times cites a survey about health care in the U.S. and these other countries. It quotes the authors of the study as saying in the journal Health Affairs, "The United States often stands out with high medical errors and inefficient care and has the worst performance for access/cost barriers and financial burdens."
The problems include American health care actually being the costliest per patient, that Americans are most likely to skip seeing a doctor or filling a prescription because of cost to the patient, that this system has the most errors in care, and that it also leaves patients with among the longest waits to get care.
The editorial states that health care costs account for 15.3 percent of the gross domestic product and that "An astonishing $119.7-billion of that was spent on administration of government and private insurance plans. Much of that cost, it bears remembering, is money wasted on deciding who is covered and who is not. This is as cruel as it is inefficient."
On top of all this, the number of Americans without health insurance tops 45 million, an all-time high, and shows no signs of improvement.
At the same time, even those with health insurance may actually have their health and livelihood destroyed by the for-profit system itself. This is not mainly the result of malpractice, but how the private insurance companies reimburse providers.
The New York Times series "BAD BLOOD: DIABETES IN NEW YORK CITY" exposed "the byzantine world of American health care, in which the real profit is made not by controlling chronic diseases like diabetes but by treating their many complications."
Because it is more profitable to do so, preventive care such as access by diabetics to nutritionists and podiatrists is often not covered, while costlier but last-ditch efforts like amputations and kidney dialysis are: "Insurers, for example, will often refuse to pay $150 for a diabetic to see a podiatrist, who can help prevent foot ailments associated with the disease. Nearly all of them, though, cover amputations, which typically cost more than $30,000."
Even the medieval practice of bleeding was less barbaric than this, since that was mostly based on ignorance and not greed, as drives the profit-hungry private insurers who so treasure amputation over podiatric care.
So while no one can know for sure precisely what Dr. King would have been advocating today, those who share his vision of a society free of injustice and inequality regard health care not as a privilege reserved for those with wealth and status, but as a human right, which should be available to all. Anything less is pure insanity and, in essence, a crime against humanity.
There are many people pressing for wholesale changes in this unjust health care system. A bill was introduced in the House of Representatives last year, H.R.676, with the chief aim "To provide for comprehensive health insurance coverage for all United States residents."
Sponsored by Rep. John Conyers of Michigan and with 62 cosponsors, it is presently languishing in the House Subcommittee on Health, opposed by those many politicians who are whores for the anti-health care insurance company profiteers.
Wherever you are, whatever your present health, and whether or not you presently have health insurance, support this type of legislation. Your life and the lives of your loved ones may just depend on it.
And if you think that it may be a long way off until such a change can come, remember that America is the only advanced developed country in the world without some type of national health care system, and that since Dr. King's days all sorts of greater systems of injustice have fallen, including segregation, apartheid, the Soviet empire, and colonialism.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Today, January 15, marks the 77th anniversary of the birth in 1929 of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
There are all sorts of celebrations going on around the world, including many on Monday, Jan. 16, which is the official day when Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is celebrated in the U.S. this year.
If you haven't done so either ever or in some time, make sure to read the text of his most famous speech, "I Have A Dream". This was given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, in front of a crowd of at least 250,000 people with millions more watching on television. You can read it here or here (the second is a PDF file).
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We received the following newsletter from the recently-opened Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
This includes their plans to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
Check out our upcoming events in January!
Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Muhammad Ali Center
Date: January 16
Time: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Location: Muhammad Ali Center
Admission: $9 adults, $8 seniors, $5 students w/ID, $4 children 6-12, member and children 5 and under are free
Celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as you explore the Ali Center’s two and a half levels of multimedia and interactive exhibits. The Ali Center will provide you with a list of Dr. King “points of interest” that can be found throughout the center encouraging you to consider how his work helped shape history and your life.
Cultural Crossroads: An Educational Expedition
Date: January 21 and January 28
Time: 12 noon – 4 p.m.
Location: Main Lobby, Muhammad Ali Center
Visit Six Continents In One Location!
A fun international experience for educators, families, students, and people of all ages.
Join us for an educational expedition through various cultures from around the world. In partnership with the Global Education Network, the Ali Center will host displays featuring artifacts, games, activities, and teaching materials representing one or more countries from each of the human-populated continents. A great way to learn about the cultures of the world, this “global gathering” will also include members of the local community from various countries who will be on hand to talk with guests about their heritage.
Muhammad Ali Center
144 N. Sixth Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40202
I just received in the mail my new, shiny, laminated membership card from the National Wrestling Media Association. I was also rummaging through some files on my old but slowly functioning Windows 98-running laptop and came across the photos above of me winning awards for boxing and wrestling journalism. All this got me a-thinkin'.
While I am not one particularly enamored with awards and their related rituals, I figured that since one of the functions of a blog is as a sort of ongoing self-promotion vehicle, I might as well remind the world of some of the accolades I have earned. Besides, it's my blog and I'll self-promote if I want to -- you would try too, if it happened to you.
On the left is the photo of me receiving a third place award in the 2003 writing contest in event coverage of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) at the 79th annual BWAA awards dinner April 16, 2004, at the Marriott Marquis in New York.
My article was entitled "A Friday Night at the Fights" and was about the "Boxing in the Bronx" card held Sept. 19, 2003. The article appeared on MaxBoxing.com, and you can see it here.
Look closely at the photo and notice that I was wearing an always-fashionable Three Stooges tie. One day I just may make the cover of Redneck World or Modern Drunkard.
The photo on the right was taken at the 2003 annual meeting of the National Wrestling Media Association at the 2003 NCAA Div. I Wrestling Championships at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, MO. I was then wrestling editor at Grappling, which was voted the 2002 Wrestling Publication of the Year by the National Wrestling Media Association. On my right is Gary Abbott, the Director of Communications and Special Projects for USA Wrestling, who has done incredible work over the years both in promoting wrestling and aiding other journalists do the same.
Back in 2000 I also was voted the Journalist of the Year for mixed martial arts by the readers of Grapplersworld.com. But that site is no longer up and I can't think of anything else funny to link to, so if you need more laughs, go here or here or here or here or even here.