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Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

No Holds Barred: Jenny Wong on the Growth of Women's Wrestling 



On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with women's wrestling pioneer Jenny Wong.

From 2000 to 2008, Jenny Wong was a member of the U.S. National Team in women's freestyle wrestling. From 2002 to 2007, she was also a resident athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

In 2003, she won a world bronze medal at 51 kg/112.25 lbs., at the World Wrestling Championships at New York's Madison Square Garden, whose finals drew over 12,000 spectators. It was only in 2004 that women's wrestling was added to the program of the Olympic Games.

Before retiring from competition in 2008, she won numerous other competitions and medals. She then went to medical school at the Des Moines University-Osteopathic Medical Center and graduated in 2012, and now is an Emergency Medicine Resident Physician at the Henry Ford Health System, which is based in Detroit, Michigan. She is also an athlete representative on the Sport Science Committee at USA Wrestling.

We spoke with Jenny Wong by phone this week.

While she was actively competing, she witnessed a growing acceptance of women's wrestling. Towards the end of her high school wrestling career, "It wasn't really something that was a big deal anymore," she said. She then wrestled on men's teams in college, as well as the U.S. women's team.

"As I moved on there was more acceptance. It became a lot easier to get practice partners. There wasn't such a struggle anymore," she said.

But acceptance is not universal, even in the U.S.

"I do keep hearing about women here and there that are having trouble wrestling for their high school team, so that still exists, but it's a lot better environment, more accepting environment nowadays, I think."

Her wrestling career spanned the time that women's wrestling made historic strides forward. "We've come a long way," she said, but added that there is still "a way to go."

We discussed her own attraction to the male-dominated sport of wrestling, the kinship the wrestling community offered, as well as some of the problems in wrestling, including the decision by several women wrestlers including herself to leave the U.S. Olympic Training Center and train elsewhere.

While she also has an interest in other combat sports such as MMA and jiu-jitsu, as a doctor she is well aware of the dangers of concussions and the growing medical studies about head trauma, brain injuries, and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). We discussed that burning issue including the revelations in the documentary film "League of Denial" about brain damage and the attempted coverup by the NFL in American football, as well as the implications for the combat sports, and much more.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link doesn't work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is also available on mobile phones and iPads through Stitcher.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is free to listen to and is sponsored by:

LenneHardt.com, the web site of the world's greatest ring announcer, Lenne Hardt. Need a unique and cool combat sports-related gift? At LenneHardt.com, you can order personalized messages, wedding calls, ringtones, phone answering messages, and more, all recorded by Lenne herself, in the style of your choice. For more information, go to LenneHardt.com.

ONE Fighting Championship. ONE FC is Asia's largest and most prestigious mixed martial arts event. ONE FC features the best Asian fighters and has initiated the ONE Asia Partnership Network, which includes most of the major MMA promotions and MMA gyms in Asia. For more information, go to their web site, at ONEFC.com.

GrappleGnostic, sponsored by Defense Soap. Where the will to win meets the power of knowledge. Features, interviews, analysis, health tips, and information on wrestling, grappling, jiu-jitsu, and all the grappling arts, written by some of the best writers and experts in the world. Check out their web site, a http://defensesoap.com/grapplegnostic.

Defense Soap, an effective, deep penetrating body soap with natural antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial soap ingredients. Defense Soap is the best cleansing body soap for men and women athletes who are involved in contact sports such as MMA, wrestling, grappling, jiu-jitsu, and judo, to help their antifungal, anti-ringworm, anti-jock itch strategy. Check out their web site, at http://defensesoap.com.

American Top Team. Whether you're a beginner or a champion, train with the champions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, wrestling, grappling, and mixed martial arts at American Top Team. Check out their web site at http://americantopteam.com/.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

No Holds Barred: Declan Hill on the Globalization of the Sports Corruption Industry 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with investigative journalist, documentary maker, and academic Declan Hill.

His new book, "The Insider's Guide to Match-Fixing in Football", has recently been published. In it, he details the latest information on the growing scourge of match-fixing in the world's most popular sport, football (known as soccer in North America), and discussed what can be done to stop it. The lessons in this can be applied directly to the combat sports, which have their own sordid history of corruption and bad governance.

We spoke with Declan Hill by phone Tuesday.

"What we've come to in the sports world is the globalization of the sports corruption industry," he said. "So, ten years ago, Goldman and Hill would be on the line and would be talking about fixing a boxing match or would be fixing a soccer game in some place. And much of the fixing would be constrained because there wouldn't be enough capacity to get cash down on a small boxing match or a small wrestling thing or a small soccer game.

He continued, "Now, the same phenomenon which has hit the music industry or the travel industry or practically any industry that your listeners can think of, has hit what I ironically call the sports corruption industry. So you have these criminals sitting in Singapore or Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, and they're planning fixing soccer games, ATP tennis, whatever you have, literally halfway around the world. And there's an enormous flow of money traveling around the world fixing these games."

He explained how the money being paid to fix these matches is an important part of the business plan of those sports organizations which are carrying out the fixing. He also discussed why this phenomenon of the globalization of the sports corruption industry has largely not reached North America, because of the sports "isolationism" which means that "nobody watches the sports you play" - yet. He predicted that this will change over the next five to ten years. And we discussed how all this applies to the combat sports, including boxing, wrestling, and MMA. We also discussed illegal and legal sports betting and their relation to match-fixing, the battle for better governance of sports organizations, the need for an international sports anti-corruption agency, and much more.

And towards the end of our discussion he said, "Eddie, thank you for your battle in trying to keep combat sports as clean as possible. It's very much appreciated."

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link doesn't work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is also available on mobile phones and iPads through Stitcher.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is free to listen to and is sponsored by:

LenneHardt.com, the web site of the world's greatest ring announcer, Lenne Hardt. Need a unique and cool combat sports-related gift? At LenneHardt.com, you can order personalized messages, wedding calls, ringtones, phone answering messages, and more, all recorded by Lenne herself, in the style of your choice. For more information, go to LenneHardt.com.

ONE Fighting Championship. ONE FC is Asia's largest and most prestigious mixed martial arts event. ONE FC features the best Asian fighters and has initiated the ONE Asia Partnership Network, which includes most of the major MMA promotions and MMA gyms in Asia. For more information, go to their web site, at ONEFC.com.

GrappleGnostic, sponsored by Defense Soap. Where the will to win meets the power of knowledge. Features, interviews, analysis, health tips, and information on wrestling, grappling, jiu-jitsu, and all the grappling arts, written by some of the best writers and experts in the world. Check out their web site, a http://defensesoap.com/grapplegnostic.

Defense Soap, an effective, deep penetrating body soap with natural antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial soap ingredients. Defense Soap is the best cleansing body soap for men and women athletes who are involved in contact sports such as MMA, wrestling, grappling, jiu-jitsu, and judo, to help their antifungal, anti-ringworm, anti-jock itch strategy. Check out their web site, at http://defensesoap.com.

American Top Team. Whether you're a beginner or a champion, train with the champions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, wrestling, grappling, and mixed martial arts at American Top Team. Check out their web site at http://americantopteam.com/.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

No Holds Barred: Ben Askren on the Rebirth of Real Professional Wrestling 



On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with U.S. freestyle wrestling Olympian, two-time NCAA Div. I national champion wrestler, and undefeated MMA fighter Ben Askren.

Although he was their welterweight champion and still unbeaten, he was recently released by Bellator MMA. He is now a free agent in MMA, so with his future uncertain, he is focusing much of his time on returning to his roots, the sport of wrestling.

But rather than resuming his career on the international freestyle circuit, Ben Askren is now playing a pivotal role in the revival of real wrestling as a professional sport. He wrestled in the main event of the debut show of the Agon Wrestling Championships on October 27, 2013, handily defeating two-time NCAA champion and four-time NCAA All-American wrestler Quentin Wright by a score of 22-8. Agon uses a blend of freestyle and American folkstyle rules, and this match was held at 195 pounds. Now Ben Askren will also act as the matchmaker for Agon, whose second show is slated for December in Michigan, as he decides what his future will be in MMA and in wrestling.

We spoke with Ben Askren by phone Monday.

The vote in February by the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee, later overturned in September at the full IOC meeting, to remove wrestling from the program of the Olympic Games set off a firestorm of activity in the wrestling community. One key development in the U.S. was the re-emergence of a circuit featuring real professional wrestling. The Agon Wrestling Championships and Tour ACW had their first shows in October. The Victory Wrestling Challenge is debuting Friday, November 22, in Omaha, Nebraska. The second annual Grapple at the Garden event, set for December 1 at Madison Square Garden in New York, will be headlined by a professional freestyle match between Kyle Dake and Bubba Jenkins, along with its slate of NCAA dual meets and high school and middle school matches. Right now these events are operating independently, although several wrestlers have been competing in more than one of them.

"At this point we all have the same idea. It's just going to come down to who's going to execute the idea the best," said Ben Askren. But he believes that Agon has a bright future.

"We've already announced a second and a third and a fourth event. So we're getting pretty ambitious in this. I think we have a really good plan to be around for a long time, to the point where we're not really losing money off the bat. We're kind of breaking even with our events, and that way we'll be around for a long time."

We discussed how Agon plans to get more high-level wrestlers involved and run regular events, how they hope to create a situation where top wrestlers can make a good living from the sport, and how Agon is non-exclusive for the athletes. We also talked about the "untapped market" of both athletes and spectators in wrestling, his desire to wrestle Kyle Dake, the concurrent rebirth of catch wrestling, and much more.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link doesn't work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is also available on mobile phones and iPads through Stitcher.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is free to listen to and is sponsored by:

LenneHardt.com, the web site of the world's greatest ring announcer, Lenne Hardt. Need a unique and cool combat sports-related gift? At LenneHardt.com, you can order personalized messages, wedding calls, ringtones, phone answering messages, and more, all recorded by Lenne herself, in the style of your choice. For more information, go to LenneHardt.com.

ONE Fighting Championship. ONE FC is Asia's largest and most prestigious mixed martial arts event. ONE FC features the best Asian fighters and has initiated the ONE Asia Partnership Network, which includes most of the major MMA promotions and MMA gyms in Asia. For more information, go to their web site, at ONEFC.com.

GrappleGnostic, sponsored by Defense Soap. Where the will to win meets the power of knowledge. Features, interviews, analysis, health tips, and information on wrestling, grappling, jiu-jitsu, and all the grappling arts, written by some of the best writers and experts in the world. Check out their web site, a http://defensesoap.com/grapplegnostic.

Defense Soap, an effective, deep penetrating body soap with natural antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial soap ingredients. Defense Soap is the best cleansing body soap for men and women athletes who are involved in contact sports such as MMA, wrestling, grappling, jiu-jitsu, and judo, to help their antifungal, anti-ringworm, anti-jock itch strategy. Check out their web site, at http://defensesoap.com.

American Top Team. Whether you're a beginner or a champion, train with the champions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, wrestling, grappling, and mixed martial arts at American Top Team. Check out their web site at http://americantopteam.com/.

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

No Holds Barred: Raul Ramirez on the Global Growth of Catch Wrestling 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with our correspondent Raul Ramirez of Catch Wrestling Los Angeles.

He has just returned from Wigan, England, where on November 9 he won both his matches at the second annual International Catch Wrestling Tournament, organized by the Snake Pit Wigan. He won his first match by hammerlock over Stephen Greenfield of Wales, and his second by pin over Ulli Koch of Germany. For these efforts, he also was awarded three trophies: the Alan Latham AKA Francis Sullivan Trophy presented by his daughter Karen Latham, the Billy Chambers AKA Jack Fallon Trophy, and the Roy Wood Trophy for Most Improved Wrestler of the Year, presented by Wigan head coach Roy Wood himself.

In addition, it was announced that Catch Wrestling Los Angeles is now an official Snake Pit Wigan Training Group.

We spoke with Raul Ramirez by phone Sunday.

We discussed the opportunity wrestling has with the void being created by all the problems in many combat and contact sports, especially those where evidence of head injuries and brain damage are mounting. In the U.S., there is a slow but steady rebirth of real professional wrestling events, with some using a mix of freestyle and American folkstyle rules, and others international freestyle rules.

"With the history of catch wrestling, ours is the granddaddy of them all," he said. "If everyone from Wigan and everyone in the United States works together, we can really try to get something going that's global and really exciting."

He noted that international participation in this Wigan event increased this year, as well as the quality of the wrestling. There are many freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers who are "really interested and really wanting to do catch wrestling." At this event alone, freestyle and Greco wrestler Muhammad Ali of Pakistan, a two-time South Asian Games champion, traveled all the way to England to train and wrestle, winning both of his matches by pin. Other international wrestlers included Osamu Matsunami of Japan and Ulli Koch of Germany, with, of course, Raul Ramirez from the U.S. and numerous wrestlers from the U.K.

"This can be global again," he said, as we discussed some of the plans to continue this revival of catch wrestling.

We also discussed plans to hold an international catch wrestling tournament in the Los Angeles area next year, the need for those in catch wrestling to be connected to the broader wrestling community, and much more.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link doesn't work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is also available on mobile phones and iPads through Stitcher.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is free to listen to and is sponsored by:

LenneHardt.com, the web site of the world's greatest ring announcer, Lenne Hardt. Need a unique and cool combat sports-related gift? At LenneHardt.com, you can order personalized messages, wedding calls, ringtones, phone answering messages, and more, all recorded by Lenne herself, in the style of your choice. For more information, go to LenneHardt.com.

ONE Fighting Championship. ONE FC is Asia's largest and most prestigious mixed martial arts event. ONE FC features the best Asian fighters and has initiated the ONE Asia Partnership Network, which includes most of the major MMA promotions and MMA gyms in Asia. For more information, go to their web site, at ONEFC.com.

GrappleGnostic, sponsored by Defense Soap. Where the will to win meets the power of knowledge. Features, interviews, analysis, health tips, and information on wrestling, grappling, jiu-jitsu, and all the grappling arts, written by some of the best writers and experts in the world. Check out their web site, a http://defensesoap.com/grapplegnostic.

Defense Soap, an effective, deep penetrating body soap with natural antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial soap ingredients. Defense Soap is the best cleansing body soap for men and women athletes who are involved in contact sports such as MMA, wrestling, grappling, jiu-jitsu, and judo, to help their antifungal, anti-ringworm, anti-jock itch strategy. Check out their web site, at http://defensesoap.com.

American Top Team. Whether you're a beginner or a champion, train with the champions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, wrestling, grappling, and mixed martial arts at American Top Team. Check out their web site at http://americantopteam.com/.

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