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Sunday, August 04, 2013
On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with Jon Strickland of the Billy Wicks Foundation and head coach of American Carny Style Catch as Catch Can Wrestling.
Based in South Carolina and now retired as a wrestler, Jon has been involved with many aspects of wrestling his whole life. He started learning about catch wrestling in the early 1980s, later trained under catch wrestling legend Billy Wicks, and wrestled in college.
The non-profit Billy Wicks Foundation was set up to preserve the catch wrestling legacy of Billy Wicks and "to spread catch wrestling" worldwide, he said in this phone interview, which was recorded Thursday. It will be "working with underprivileged children here in the rural South and southern Appalachia, and trying to get these kids interested in wrestling, starting out at an amateur level."
Catch wrestling, he said, where you can win by pin or submission, is currently experiencing "almost a boom". There are more and more tournaments and people training in it than in recent memory, and more and more grapplers from many other styles, including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, becoming interested in training and competing in it, he observed.
He also had been involved as a coach for MMA, but now focuses on catch wrestling and grappling. He had a fighter on an amateur MMA card in August 2012 in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, but that show was cancelled after a fighter named Tyrone Mims fell ill and was taken to a local hospital. About an hour later, Tyrone Mims passed away. His death was the second in MMA in the U.S. in 2012, and the second in South Carolina, which only legalized the sport in 2009. Although the coroner's report would say that the cause of death of the 30-year-old Mims was "undetermined", it was obviously directly related to his MMA fight.
Arguing that the current unified rules of MMA have actually "made it more dangerous by the way they've done it," he said that the current emphasis on striking in MMA makes it questionable to say that MMA is safer than boxing.
"I don't know what the stats are. I haven't looked at them. But personally, I do not want my son fighting in MMA. That's it. I would try anything I can do to discourage that," he said.
"It's not putting down these guys. I got a lot of respect for them. If guys want to do it, that's great for them. I just know I don't want my loved ones, my family, doing it."
We discussed the risks stemming from blows to the head and brain injuries in MMA, as well as why he prefers submissions to striking. "I prefer wrestling," he said.
He also noted that wrestler and trainer Farmer Burns, who trained world heavyweight wrestling champion Frank Gotch in the early 1900s and played a key role in the development of amateur wrestling in Iowa, has not received proper credit. Burns, he said, is the "Godfather of American Grappling", and should be recognized as such.
We also discussed how the growth of catch wrestling around the world requires that the budding catch wrestling organizations work together; why he would like to see more major submission wrestling shows like "The Contenders", which was held in 1997; why "MMA has peaked"; some of the history of catch wrestling, including the experiences of the old carnival shows or "carny wrestling"; the devolution of the sport of professional wrestling last century into staged shows; and much more in this lengthy interview.
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The First Annual Liberty Bell Classic East Coast King of Catch Tournament, organized by the North American Catch Wrestling Association in conjunction with Scientific Wrestling. This catch wrestling tournament will take place Saturday, August 31, 2013, at the Klein JCC, 10100 Jamison Ave., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19116. No points! No politics! Only submissions and pins win! For more information, go to http://nacwa.weebly.com.