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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, July 18, 2014

No Holds Barred: Gene Dermody on Wrestling and Grappling at 2014 Gay Games 





On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with Gene Dermody, the "Godfather of LGBT wrestling" and the founder of Wrestlers WithOut Borders (WWB).

Wrestlers WithOut Borders, according to its web site, is "a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and development of the noble Olympic wrestling sports of Freestyle Wrestling, Greco-Roman Wrestling, Beach Wrestling, and Non-Gi Grappling, as defined by WWB & FILA."

They will once again be organizing the wrestling and grappling competition at Gay Games 9.

Freestyle wrestling and no-gi grappling at Gay Games 9 will take place August 11-13 at Case Western Reserve University in the Horsburgh Gymnasium, 2138 Adelbert Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44106. Wrestling is the only sport that has been officially sanctioned in every Gay Games since their inception in 1982, while this is the first year in which there will be no-gi grappling competition.

For Gene Dermody, who is now 65, the wrestling at the Gay Games literally changed his life. Then a tenured school teacher living in New York, and a former college wrestler at NYU, he wrestling in Gay Games I in 1982 in San Francisco. The experience so moved him that he stayed in San Francisco, has wrestled in every Gay Games since, and plans to compete at Gay Games 9, in what will be his last appearance on the mat.

In recognition of all that he has accomplished, the Federation of Gay Games has selected him as one of two winners of the prestigious Tom Waddell Award, named in memory of the founder of the Gay Games, which is the highest honor bestowed by the Federation of Gay Games. The other winner is Elvina Yuvakaeva, a Russian sports activist, the female co-president of the Russian LGBT Sports Federation where she is in charge of international relations, and the chair of the Russian Open Games, the first international LGBT multisport tournament in her country.

We spoke with Gene Dermody by phone Thursday.

Recalling the growth of the Gay Games, which are held every four years, he said, Gay Games IV, which took place in New York in 1994, "was like a watershed event for Gay Games wrestling, and Gay Games in general."

That year the Gay Games wrestling was held at NYU.

"For me, going back to NYU -- I wrestled for NYU. This was my alma mater," he said.

"It was the first time we had had women's wrestling. This was ten years before the Olympic Committee put in women's wrestling, in Athens."

He continued, "It was a very, very competitive event, as most of the officials who they had gotten there would attest to."

While the ensuing years have seen greater and greater acceptance of LGBT athletes, there is still work to be done by organizations whose members are primarily LGBT. And there are also still many LGBT athletes who have not publicly come out.

"Our job, at Wrestlers WithOut Borders, is to create these clubs, to create the visibility, to create the comfort zone, so that eventually they will come out," he said.

We also discussed numerous topics, including how USA Wrestling at its competitions and events has been very supportive of and fair to LGBT wrestlers, and is sanctioning the wrestling and grappling at Gay Games 9. In addition, we discussed the many benefits of wrestling, how his work in San Francisco has helped develop wrestling in many schools and communities, the rules of the wrestling and grappling at the Gay Games, how the Gay Games are unlike the Olympics and are instead aimed mainly at getting recreational athletes to compete, why he expects grappling at the Gay Games to become bigger than the freestyle wrestling competition, and much, 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:

MMA World Expo. The mixed martial arts community comes to New York City July 26 and 27, 2014, for the fifth annual MMA World Expo, featuring the Fighters Source U.S. Nationals amateur MMA tournament, two days of ADCC no-gi and gi grappling tournaments, MMA fighters, seminars with world-class trainers, vendors, panel discussions, catch wrestling competition, and much more. The MMA World Expo takes place Saturday, July 26, and Sunday, July 27, 2014, at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

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/.

The 2014 Catch Wrestling World Championship, presented by the Snake Pit U.S.A., taking place Sunday, July 27, at the MMA World Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York. You can only win by pin or submission. Best two out of three falls. All styles welcome. For more information or to register, go to snakepitusa.com.

The Catch Wrestling Alliance, a catch wrestling promotion that works with the highest level catch wrestlers from around the world with the goal of reviving the great sport of catch-as-catch-can wrestling. The Catch Wrestling Alliance organizes catch wrestling sporting events, and its primary organizer is Dr. Raul Ramirez. For more information, go to catchwrestlingalliance.com.

Takedown Wrestling Media, America's wrestling TV and radio shows, which are hosted by founder Scott Casber, and have been airing on radio and Internet for over 17 years. Takedown Media produces a weekly TV program seen in 54 million homes in the U.S. on DirecTV, Dish Network, and cable affiliates around the country, called Takedown TV. Takedown Media also produces the weekly USA Wrestling TV show for the governing body of the sport, USA Wrestling. For more information, go to http://takedownradio.com.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

No Holds Barred: Tom DeBlass on His July 26 ADCC Superfight at MMA World Expo 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with grappler, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and instructor, and MMA fighter Tom DeBlass.

Besides being the owner of Ocean County Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he will be competing in a grappling superfight as part of the ADCC competition at this year's MMA World Expo in New York. His opponent will be the veteran Renato "Babalu" Sobral.

This superfight, under ADCC grappling rules, will take place Saturday, July 26, on the first day of the MMA World Expo at the Jacob Javits Center, 655 West 34th Street, New York, New York 10001. ADCC will be running two days of tournaments at the MMA World Expo, with the no-gi competition on Saturday, July 26, and the gi competition on Sunday, July 27.

We spoke with Tom DeBlass by phone Monday night.

Calling his opponent, Babalu, a legend, he is still confident that he can emerge victorious.

"I know how to win in jiu-jitsu and grappling," he said. "I came back in grappling competition after four years away last year, and I won the Pan American Games, in the adult black belt division. Then I took third in the Worlds, no-gi division, two weeks before I beat [Jason] Lambert" in MMA in Bellator on November 15, 2013. He is also a 2009 ADCC North American Trial Champion, and holds victories in Grapplers Quest and other competitions.

"I believe in my jiu-jitsu. I believe in myself," he added.

"I'm really honored. I'm excited to go against him. And I'm super-excited that ADCC and Carlos Carvalho wanted me to headline their event. It's a pretty amazing honor."

We also discussed the potential for grappling to emerge as a popular spectator sport, his training in both grappling and MMA at the same time, the plans for him to continue fighting in Bellator, how his studies in college in education have helped him as a coach and instructor, how he got involved in jiu-jitsu and grappling, 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:

MMA World Expo. The mixed martial arts community comes to New York City July 26 and 27, 2014, for the fifth annual MMA World Expo, featuring the Fighters Source U.S. Nationals amateur MMA tournament, two days of ADCC no-gi and gi grappling tournaments, MMA fighters, seminars with world-class trainers, vendors, panel discussions, catch wrestling competition, and much more. The MMA World Expo takes place Saturday, July 26, and Sunday, July 27, 2014, at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

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/.

The 2014 Catch Wrestling World Championship, presented by the Snake Pit U.S.A., taking place Sunday, July 27, at the MMA World Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York. You can only win by pin or submission. Best two out of three falls. All styles welcome. For more information or to register, go to snakepitusa.com.

The Catch Wrestling Alliance, a catch wrestling promotion that works with the highest level catch wrestlers from around the world with the goal of reviving the great sport of catch-as-catch-can wrestling. The Catch Wrestling Alliance organizes catch wrestling sporting events, and its primary organizer is Dr. Raul Ramirez. For more information, go to catchwrestlingalliance.com.

Takedown Wrestling Media, America's wrestling TV and radio shows, which are hosted by founder Scott Casber, and have been airing on radio and Internet for over 17 years. Takedown Media produces a weekly TV program seen in 54 million homes in the U.S. on DirecTV, Dish Network, and cable affiliates around the country, called Takedown TV. Takedown Media also produces the weekly USA Wrestling TV show for the governing body of the sport, USA Wrestling. For more information, go to http://takedownradio.com.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

No Holds Barred: Sambo Steve Koepfer and Antonio Graceffo on Catch Wrestling 




On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with Steve Koepfer, the owner and head coach of New York Combat Sambo, and the "Brooklyn Monk", Antonio Graceffo.

Right after we recorded an interview on Thursday with Antonio Graceffo for our previous show, we headed over to New York Combat Sambo, where Antonio proceeded to join a class in catch wrestling, headed by Steve Koepfer. Although Steve Koepfer is best known for his work in sambo, New York Combat Sambo also offers regular training in catch wrestling, as well as other styles. Several of his students are expected to be competing at upcoming events, including the 2014 Catch Wrestling World Championship presented by the Snake Pit U.S.A., on Sunday, July 27, at the MMA World Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York, and at the Liberty Bell Classic / East Coast King of Catch Wrestling Tournament on Saturday, August 30, at Primal Gym in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, presented by the North American Catch Wrestling Association.

We spoke with both Steve Koepfer and Antonio Graceffo at New York Combat Sambo right after this catch wrestling class.

About four years ago, Steve Koepfer said that he did a joint seminar in Montreal with Kris Iatskevich, head coach at the ISWA (International Submission Wrestling Alliance). Steve was teaching sambo, and Kris catch wrestling.

"We realized that a lot of what he was teaching and a lot of what I was teaching was similar, and that a lot of the principles between sambo and catch were very similar regarding pins and submissions and takedowns. Obviously in sambo we wear the jacket and in catch there is no jacket. But we found there were more similarities than differences. And then we started training here at the gym with catch rules, which we found much more acceptable for all the techniques that we like to do that are not typically allowed in jiu-jitsu tournaments, for example."

That led them to organizing several joint sambo and catch wrestling tournaments together, with some of them having "upwards of 70 or 80 competitors, especially the ones down in Texas."

For Antonio, this was his first catch wrestling class, and also the first time he has done any wrestling in the United States. He is in the process of completing his Ph.D. at Shanghai University of Sport in Shanghai, China, comparing Chinese traditional wrestling with Western wrestling, and is also a member of the Shuai Jiao traditional wrestling team there. He also trained earlier in the week with a judo class in Long Island, New York, and commented, "In terms of the level, I saw that the level of the catch wrestler was a lot higher than the level of the sport judo guys I trained with this week."

We discussed with both Steve Koepfer and Antonio Graceffo their training together, the future of catch wrestling, what lessons can be learned for catch wrestling from the political battles in other sports like sambo, the various upcoming tournaments in 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:

MMA World Expo. The mixed martial arts community comes to New York City July 26 and 27, 2014, for the fifth annual MMA World Expo, featuring the Fighters Source U.S. Nationals amateur MMA tournament, two days of ADCC no-gi and gi grappling tournaments, MMA fighters, seminars with world-class trainers, vendors, panel discussions, catch wrestling competition, and much more. The MMA World Expo takes place Saturday, July 26, and Sunday, July 27, 2014, at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

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/.

The 2014 Catch Wrestling World Championship, presented by the Snake Pit U.S.A., taking place Sunday, July 27, at the MMA World Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York. You can only win by pin or submission. Best two out of three falls. All styles welcome. For more information or to register, go to snakepitusa.com.

The Catch Wrestling Alliance, a catch wrestling promotion that works with the highest level catch wrestlers from around the world with the goal of reviving the great sport of catch-as-catch-can wrestling. The Catch Wrestling Alliance organizes catch wrestling sporting events, and its primary organizer is Dr. Raul Ramirez. For more information, go to catchwrestlingalliance.com.

Takedown Wrestling Media, America's wrestling TV and radio shows, which are hosted by founder Scott Casber, and have been airing on radio and Internet for over 17 years. Takedown Media produces a weekly TV program seen in 54 million homes in the U.S. on DirecTV, Dish Network, and cable affiliates around the country, called Takedown TV. Takedown Media also produces the weekly USA Wrestling TV show for the governing body of the sport, USA Wrestling. For more information, go to http://takedownradio.com.

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