Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Coretta Scott King, 1927-2006 

Coretta Scott King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., passed away Monday at age 78.

Here is a press release by the NAACP about her passing.

January 30, 2006

Coretta Scott King Will Be Sorely Missed

Statement of Myrlie Evers-Williams, Chair Emeritus, NAACP Board of Directors

“I was saddened to learn about the passing of my personal, very special friend, Coretta Scott King. She and I, along with Betty Shabazz, were members of a club that no one wants to join--the "widow of." We shared the challenges of raising our children without their fathers; we shared the challenges of bearing our husbands’ legacies with dignity; we shared the challenges of the ever-shifting civil rights movement. And, through it all, she maintained her graciousness while impacting the world's politics with her strength and sophisticated influence. And, now I share with the rest of the world in mourning the loss of such a wonderfully caring and spiritual woman. We shall sorely miss her.”

(In 1998, Mrs. King presented Mrs. Evers-Williams with the NAACP Spingarn Medal)

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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"Vince Lombardi Was Wrong" on TheSweetScience.com 

Just in time for Super Bowl week, and right after the triumphant return of Arturo Gatti, my latest piece on TheSweetScience.com has been posted. It is entitled "Vince Lombardi Was Wrong".

Check it out and enjoy and learn.

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Manny Pacquiao's Money 

So you think all is fine and dandy with the financial compensation of Manny Pacquiao now that he has a new promoter and management team? Just read veteran boxing writer Thomas Hauser's latest piece, "Manny Pacquiao: Where the Money Is Going", and, as he requests, "let the numbers speak for themselves."

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Shamrock vs. Gracie 

This is the official poster for "Shamrock vs. Gracie", California's first licensed mixed martial arts fight card. It will take place at San Jose's HP Pavilion on Friday, March 10. For more information, click here.

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Monday, January 30, 2006

So When the Hell is the "No Holds Barred" Show Coming Back? 

Ah, those were the days.

The word has been out on the Internet for some time that I've been working to bring back my "No Holds Barred" Internet radio show which ran on the now-defunct eYada.com network from 1999 until it closed in 2001.

This version will differ from the first in a few significant ways. That show was daily, while this show will be more or less weekly. That show was live, while this one will be prerecorded. That show was backed by a network which had $25 million in seed money to play around with during the first Internet boom, while this show -- well, I guess you can figure out that we have almost $25 million less. That's where sponsors come in.

After a few false starts with this thing in the past few months, I've come to the conclusion that the best way to get this going is to do it myself. As you see from my post about podcasting, I have been experimenting with posting some recent audio interviews. I've found several free sites to host the audio, with Ourmedia.org being the lead site for that. And yes, I've already checked with its co-founder and executive director, J.D. Lasica, that posting commercially-supported content there is OK.

This blog right here, as well as my blog and page on Ourmedia.org, will be the text centers of the show. There also will be various sites which highlight the show and sponsor it. And I will also use my MySpace.com presence to push the show.

The new show will also be a podcast, meaning, for those who have just discovered electric typewriters and touch-tone phones, it will be in the MP3 format and thus downloadable to iPods, other MP3 players, and of course hard drives. The support from the sponsors will allow it to be heard for free. And as I learn more about podcasting and everything related to it, I will attempt to make it available as widely as possible, including through services like iTunes.

Oh yeah, the content. This show will be more oriented towards talk and interviews than the old show, especially since it is not live and not daily. But since it is a podcast, I just may experiment with putting up shorter shows and even plain interviews more often, rather than waiting longer to produce, say, a half-hour weekly show.

The goal is to cover the combat sports in general. Where boxing fits in depends upon what happens with another idea I have which is still under discussion. Let's just leave it at that for now.

So when the hell is the "No Holds Barred" show coming back? As soon as we finalize the sponsorship deals, which should be very soon. But if you want to get in on the ground floor, ping me, baby.

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Podcast Puttering 

I've been experimenting around with some various podcasting services and sites. Most recently I've been trying Odeo and pod-O-matic.

I started by reposting the interview recorded this past Wednesday with WBA super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler. You can hear it on My Odeo Channel (odeo/e01e99936189cf95) .

You can also hear it on my pod-O-matic page.

I hope these work for you.

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Boxing Scribe Frank Lotierzo Interviewed 

An interview with our colleague, the veteran boxing writer and historian and former fighter Frank Lotierzo, has been posted by the Cherry Hill Courier Post of NJ. Entitled "Medford man knows 'Rocky'", you can read it here.

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Gatti Stops Damgaard in 11 

Despite reinjuring his perpetually sore right hand in the fourth round, Arturo Gatti used superior speed and power to stop previously-unbeaten Thomas Damgaard of Denmark in the 11th round Saturday night before a packed house at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ. Gatti outpunched the advancing Damgaard for most of the fight, and finished him off with a right-left-right combination, causing Damgaard to stagger and almost collapse to the canvas. Referee Lindsey Page wisely waved off the fight at 2:54 of round 11.

This fight was shown live in the U.S. on HBO, following the replay of last week’s Pacquiao-Morales rematch.

According to CompuBox numbers, at the time of the stoppage Gatti had a slight edge in total punches landed. He was 328 of 853 for a 38% connect rate, while Damgaard was 320 of 908 for 35%. But Damgaard exhibited much less power than Gatti, who outlanded Damgaard by a wider margin in power punches. There Gatti was 275 of 488 for a whopping 56%, while the lighter-hitting Damgaard was 196 of 403 for 49%.

After the fight, Gatti, returning to the welterweight division for the fist time on five years, admitted to HBO’s Larry Merchant, “My right hand is hurt.” He added, “It’s been hurt for the last couple of years.” And then, almost matter-of-factly, he stated, “It happens almost every fight.” Gatti also fessed up to injuring a rib during training camp.

Yet, as the fans both in Boardwalk Hall and watching on TV saw, once again Arturo Gatti had no quit in him.

Gatti, now 40-7 with 31 KOs, and in his first fight back since his devastating loss last June to unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr., said he is considering next going after new welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir. Damgaard, with his first career loss, falls to 37-1 with 27 KOs. Ironically or not, Baldomir is represented in part by attorney Mike Marley through Sycuan Ringside Promotions, with Marley also working with Damgaard’s camp for Saturday night’s fight.

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Boo, Boo, Boo to Sports Illustrated 

The news released this week by HBO that the Pacquiao-Morales 2 pay-per-view on Jan. 21 drew 350,000 buys was further proof, as if any were needed, that good people will pay good money for great fights. This was 10,000 more buys than their first encounter last March 19, won by Morales, even despite Morales's defeat on Sept. 10 by Zahir Raheem.

Since each buy represents one household, and usually a few people in that household watch a pay-per-view, especially one going for $44.95, it is safe to say that perhaps a million or more people in the U.S. shelled out some cash last Saturday night to view it, rather than just watch whatever else was showing on TV for free.

No major alphabet soup title was at stake in this fight. The only draw was that two evenly-matched grand warriors with a history of giving it their all in the ring would once again face each other. You shouldn't need a degree in history to understand how deep that appeal has been throughout the ages.

Nonetheless, the magazine which claims to be the leading light of sports journalism, Time Warner's Sports Illustrated, totally ignored what turned out to be an early fight of the year candidate. In its print edition dated Jan. 30, they had nothing, zilch on Pacquiao-Morales 2.

Fight of the year? Who cares? This same issue had an interview with noted athlete Jimmy Kimmel, a photo and piece on Anna Benson, and something about the International Festival of Balloons. For a moment I thought someone had inserted a copy of something like Maxim or Us into my issue. But no, with all this glorious journalism and brilliant sportswriting, there just wasn't any room left in this highly civilized magazine for such ruffians.

Even in the "Week Ahead" section, where they hype Saturday's Gatti-Damgaard fight on HBO, no mention was made that Pacquiao-Morales 2 will be rebroadcast right before that live fight. A potential fight of the year is invisible to the suits who run this thing.

Of course, a bang-up job was done by Rich O'Brien, who actually has the title of SI's boxing editor, on their web site both of previewing this fight and analyzing it. But being their boxing editor is kind of like being the country music editor at The Source, or, if you must, the hip-hop editor at Country Weekly: no matter what you do, and no matter how popular your subject is, your editors won't get it and your publishers won't want the readers who do.

I know a lot of people both in boxing and who are just fans of it who used to subscribe to Sports Illustrated. Somewhere along the way SI virtually dropped any regular coverage of boxing, and gradually many of these readers, who often also like many other sports, drifted away and let their subs expire.

But let the corporate print world rot in their seas of narrowness, prejudice, elitism, snobbery, stupidity, mediocrity, and, more and more, red ink. Right now you are reading the medium which represents both the present and future of journalism. Theirs will soon exist only in morgues and museums.

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A Very Subversive Message 

We are posting a message of revolution which has inspired insurgents both to topple tyrannies in the past and to threaten those which exist today.

It says you don't have to believe in organized religion, or any religion for that matter (gasp!), but if you do, your rights to religious liberty and against any type of persecution or discrimination will be protected. It says you can say and write whatever the hell you want, and that the politicians can't stop you. It says you can even publicly get together with like-minded people to demand that the politicians listen to what you want.

Pretty subversive, eh? Remember that if you are reading this at work, your boss may not appreciate its spirit, or if you are in school the authorities may be even less understanding. So be careful where you read this and to whom you send it:

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Arturo Gatti, Buddy McGirt, Chuck Zito, and Mikkel Kessler Audio Interviews 

At his past several pre-fight press conferences, the normally personable Arturo Gatti (39-7, 30 KOs) was noticeably irritable, short with the media, and quick to head for the exit. This unusual behavior occurred both at press events before fights in which he was heavily favored to win and did by knockout, involving Leonard Dorin and James Leija, as well as his most recent fight in which he was favored to lose and did by knockout, against Floyd Mayweather Jr. this past June.

So when a chipper and smiling Gatti stood around Wednesday at yet another pre-fight press conference, this time at Mickey Mantle’s restaurant on Central Park South in Manhattan, and answered every question of every reporter from every type of media outlet, posed for photographs before cameras from all around the world, and signed autographs on everything from boxing gloves to notebooks, it was a welcome change for all.

The reason was not hard to uncover, although we did let both Gatti and his sagacious trainer Buddy McGirt explain why in their own words: When Gatti fights next, this Sat., Jan. 28, against undefeated Thomas Damgaard (37-0, 27 KOs) of Denmark at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, this fight will be contested at the welterweight limit of 147 pounds, the first time in five years Gatti has fought at that high a weight. His constant battle to cut weight was becoming more and more difficult for him, and now he was freed of that obstacle.

Another reason is that Damgaard, while undefeated, is best known in the U.S. for pulling out of two fights with then-WBA welterweight champ Jose Antonio Rivera because of reported injuries. All of Damgaard’s 37 fights have been in his native Denmark, and the list of his opponents will not bring many looks of recognition to many boxing fans.

We thus got a chance to speak with Arturo Gatti and Buddy McGirt about what to expect this Saturday night. And we also asked Arturo about his many female fans, including our blog friend Blonde.

We also spoke with Gatti’s friend and esteemed member of his entourage, actor Chuck Zito, perhaps best known for his work on HBO’s “Oz.”

While the press conference was going on, Damgaard was reportedly still in New Jersey, completing his pre-fight medical tests, so he was unavailable for interviews.

But we did get a chance to speak with another fellow Danish fighter who was on hand, undefeated WBA super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler (37-0, 28 KOs), along with his rep, the loquacious Mike Marley. Kessler was in town to meet with the suits at both HBO and Showtime in hopes of landing a deal for him to fight the winner of the partial title unification fight between WBO champ Joe Calzaghe and IBF champ Jeff Lacy, which takes place March 4 in Manchester, England.

While on paper Kessler’s record appears similar to Damgaard’s, four of Kessler’s last five fights and, of course, victories, have been against one-time world champions and highly ranked fighters: Julio Cesar Green, Manny Siaca, Anthony Mundine, and Eric Lucas. Hopefully the American networks will provide an opportunity for this deserving boxer as well as take a step to start to unify the belts in this division.

You can listen to all these interviews for free. You only need to be able to play MP3 audio files, so please wait a moment for them to download.

To listen to the Arturo Gatti interview, click here or here or here.

To listen to the Buddy McGirt interview, click here or here or here.

To listen to the Chuck Zito interview, click here or here or here.

To listen to the Mikkel Kessler interview, click here or here or here.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Remembering Dave Schultz 

Today, Jan. 26, 2006, is the tenth anniversary of the slaying of one of America's greatest wrestlers, Dave Schultz, by crazed multi-millionaire John du Pont.

I remember being in the studios of WBAI radio in New York when the news came over the wire that a wrestler had been killed. A staffer knew that I covered wrestling and told me the news, but I couldn't believe what sounded like an incredible story.

Later we interviewed Bobby Douglas, and when we started talking about Dave, he broke down in tears. We had to stop the interview and re-tape it.

USA Wrestling has posted numerous articles honoring his memory. Gary Abbott has written a touching remembrance.

There is a section on TheMat.com forums devoted to writing about Dave.

There are also many other articles, including reposts of what was originally written when he was killed in 1996, also on TheMat.com.

Also, the Baltimore Sun has an article called 10 years later, mystery clings to Schultz slaying.

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Arturo Gatti and Buddy McGirt Interviews On Deck 

We will be posting audio interviews from Wednesday's press conference at Mickey Mantle's restaurant in New York featuring Arturo Gatti and trainer Buddy McGirt, plus some surprises. It will be up in a day or so; we're just waiting for the possibility of getting it up on a site even larger than this, the baddest of blogs.

Thomas Damgaard, Gatti's opponent this Saturday in Atlantic City, was not there, by the way. At the time of the presser, he was still in New Jersey finishing up his pre-fight medical tests.

Another web site, Fightbeat, has posted a free video of the speeches given by Gatti and McGirt at the press conference.

It's too bad our blog friend and devout Gatti fan Blonde couldn't make it to the press conference, but we did try to ask Arturo about her. You'll just have to wait a little longer to hear it all.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Scientific Wrestling 

Some friends today pointed me to the site of a relatively new group called Scientific Wrestling.

Basically this organization wants to reestablish a legitimate form of catch-as-catch-can wrestling, like existed in the early 1900's in the days of Frank Gotch. Under their rules, you can win by pin or submission, meaning, of course, no jumping to the guard as in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and most other forms of submission wrestling.

They are having a seminar in Santa Monica, CA, Feb. 25 and 26. Featured will be veteran submission wrestler Yoshiaki Fujiwara, a protege of Karl Gotch, and former UFC champ and current King of Pancrase Josh Barnett. While Fujiwara is also known for staged wrestling, he is well-known in real wrestling circles as being a master of submissions.

This group also counts among its circle Wade Schalles, a legendary former NCAA champion wrestler and national sombo champion, as well as Mark Schultz, Olympic gold medalist wrestler, UFC fighter, and more recently submission grappling instructor.

I do not know a lot about this group, but the attempt to restore this kind of wrestling has always been of great interest to me. Let's see where this one goes.

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Country Soul New York Media Music Mashed-Up Notes 

Now to bust some more myths.

What sophomore jinx? The second albums for both Gretchen Wilson, “All Jacked Up,” and Big & Rich, “Comin’ To Your City,” have both been certified platinum. That's music industry jargon meaning that they have sold more than 1,000,000 copies. So can a million Redneck Women and members of the Freak Parade be wrong?

What is also not wrong is the long overdue revival of soul music. Another sign of this is the relaunching of the television channel VH1 Soul. Originally started in 1997, it is being relaunched February 1 at the start of Black History Month.

A press release says VH1Soul will be available in nearly 20 million homes. The focus will be "the hottest, soul, neo-soul and R&B hits from the 90s and today featuring core artists such as Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, Outkast, Mary J. Blige and Usher." There will also be a show on Valentine's Day, Tuesday, February 14, hosted by present-day soul singer Anthony Hamilton, called "Soulphrodisiac," billed as a "romantic music video show."

More info can be found on their web site as well as here. You can also check their web site both for a complete lineup of shows as well as to check if VH1 Soul is available on your system.

So far, with only about 20 million homes having it available, it is not even being offered on Time Warner Cable in Manhattan. Thus many communities including Harlem and many others where there are so many aficionados of soul music will not be able to see VH1 Soul unless and until it is added by the cable monopoly.

But the revival of VH1 Soul does indicate that there is a rising interest in soul music, and this trend may result in the network getting wider carriage.

Not only does New York not yet have VH1 Soul available, but the Big Apple does not have any radio station in the city proper picking up the weekly syndicated radio show "American Country Countdown." Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn is the new host of "American Country Countdown," whose new season debuts this weekend. It is syndicated by ABC Radio. You can check the ABC Radio site to see if a station in your area is running "American Country Countdown."

But this show is only available in the New York City suburbs on WLIR 107.1FM from Garden City, NY, WNNJ 1360AM from Franklin, NJ, and WXPK 107.1FM from Beacon, NY. It also is not clear if the web sites of these stations will stream the syndicated "American Country Countdown." And at the same time, Disney, which owns ABC Radio, is reportedly close to a deal to sell it off.

New York as well still has no country music radio station. The closest thing is an HD radio station called New York Country, WKTU 103.5-HD2. This is a commercial-free digital radio station run as part of the new multicast by WKTU-FM. You either need a very pricey HD radio to hear this, or else you can listen online for free on their site at http://www.ktu.com/cc-common/hdradio/ .

Now I know someone is going to notice or ask that I have lumped together commentary on country and soul music along with their media and what is available in New York. So you want to know whether I'm on the side of the rednecks or the homeboys, do you?

Here's the answer: both these forms of music have the same roots.

In fact, it has been observed that "gospel, country, blues, rhythm & blues, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll are really all just one thing. Those are the American music and that is the American culture.”

And that quote comes from someone who knows: Etta James.

While the American form of apartheid known as Jim Crow segregation may have unmixed these musical forms, the breakdown of the myths of that era is starting to have more people realize that all this good, American music can be appreciated by all the artificially separated groups in the society. And that's the no-holds-barred truth!

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Real Pro Wrestling Offers New Video Content -- Press Release 

For Immediate Release:

RPW Offers New Video Content

Real Pro Wrestling, Inc. (RPW) announces new video content for the web. In addition to individual wrestler background stories and introductions, RPW is now featuring a match of the week from Season 1. While not DVD or broadcast quality, it will be available at no charge. Also available will be video highlights of all matches on the "Events" page of the website.

In addition to new video content on the RPW website, select Season One matches will also be available via Apple iTunes Music Store. To access the Official RealProWrestling Video Podcast you can search for "real wrestling" inside your iTunes Music Store (or click on this link).

If you do not have iTunes you can download it for Windows and Mac here.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Online Gambling Takes Another Loss 

You likely have seen ads for Internet gambling on many sports web sites, in magazines, and even on some athletes' backs. That is very likely to come to an end, at least in the U.S.

The laws on Internet gambling vary from country to country. In the UK, for example, almost all gambling is regulated by the recently-formed national Gambling Commission. By 2007, this body will start also to regulate what is called "remote gambling", including online operations.

In the U.S., however, all Internet gambling is considered illegal. The basis for this is a 1961 law known as the Wire Wager Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1084, which was set up to outlaw telephone bookies. While this law was passed long before there was an Internet, it still is interpreted as including communications technologies developed after its adoption. In 2000, an American named Jay Cohen, who ran an outfit known as World Sports Exchange which was based in Antigua, was convicted under it.

While there are differing legal opinions as to whether or not this law actually covers Internet gambling, and to what degree if any the American government can forbid those on its soil from gambling with online services outside its borders, the prevailing opinion and the actual practice of the U.S. government has been to continue to enforce this law as far as Internet gambling is concerned.

Now that enforcement has been taken to a new level.

The Sporting News, which first started publishing in 1886 mainly as a baseball newspaper and now covers most mainstream sports, has just agreed to a $7.2 million settlement with the U.S. government over its running numerous ads for both Internet and telephone gambling in its magazine, on its web site, and on its radio stations.

Even though some of these Internet gambling sites may be perfectly legal in their home countries or in other countries, the loss of access to the lucrative American gambling market will hurt them financially.

Some people in the combat sports world are a little slow to get the news about many things, so now they have no excuse since this has been reported here.

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"The Fifty-Dollar Devil" on TheSweetScience.com 

My latest weekly column for TheSweetScience.com is entitled The Fifty-Dollar Devil and has just been posted. It discusses the off-and-on Mayweather-Judah pay-per-view and related issues, all, as usual and as you can glean from the title, from a highly skeptical stance. Check it out, y'all.

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New Big & Rich Single: "Never Mind Me" 

Warner Bros.Records Nashville has announced that the next single to be released from Big & Rich's "Comin' to Your City" album will be the mellow and haunting "Never Mind Me".

They also informed us that there is a video of a live performance of this song at AOLMusic.com as well as one on Real.com's RollingStone Original.

Both are free to view.

The singing on the AOL version is a bit better (John sounds a little hoarse on the Real.com version), although Big Kenny does soar on the Real.com one. So watch 'em both!

And remember: Love everybody!

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Mainstream Media Gets Kinky 

Whether you agree with all, some, or even none of what he stands for, you have to acknowledge that Kinky Friedman is shaking up the political establishment with his independent campaign for governor of Texas. Now he has also begun to get some very major mainstream media coverage.

Kinky was on CBS's "60 Minutes" this past Sunday. If you missed it (as I did), you can read the text of his segment plus see a video clip of it on the CBS News site, and for free.

Also, Kinky is scheduled to be a guest on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" this Wednesday, January 25. Check your local listings.

So where are ABC and Fox?

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Morales vs. Pacquiao 2 Rebroadcasts on HBO Start Sat., Jan. 28 

HBO will rebroadcast Morales vs. Pacquiao 2, already being mentioned as a Fight of the Year candidate, Sat., Jan. 28, at 9:45 PM ET/ 6:45 PM PT, followed by the live fight between Arturo Gatti and Thomas Damgaard from Atlantic City. The replay of Morales vs. Pacquiao 2 and the Gatti-Damgaard fight will also be shown on HBO2 Sunday, Jan. 29, at 10:00 AM and 5:30 PM and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at 11:45 PM. Those times are ET/PT.

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Yes, We Have No Pants 

In response to a humorous inquiry I received from a friend at my MySpace.com account, the answer is no, I was not one of those no-pants subway riders who got busted for baring their briefs and boxers Sunday.

We are, however, awaiting a commentary from that noted cultural critic and bon vivant, Frank McManus of the Limited Thinker blog, which will certainly place this phenomenon in its proper historical, social, and ideological context.

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SI's Rich O'Brien on Morales-Pacquiao 2 

Boxing's man at Sports Illustrated, Rich O'Brien, has written an important piece about Morales-Pacquiao 2, called "A winner in Vegas - Morales vs. Pacquiao is what boxing is all about."

As usual, Rich discusses a plethora of broad issues in his analysis of this particular fight, so make sure to check it out.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Pacquiao Stops Morales in 10 

This time, the Pac-Man ate him up.

Avenging a unanimous decision loss from last March, a slicker and tougher Manny Pacquiao (41-3-2, 32 KOs) scored with left-hand leads and right hooks all Saturday night long and dropped Erik Morales (48-4, 34 KOs) twice in the 10th round in their rematch in Las Vegas, with referee Kenny Bayless very correctly halting the bout after the second knockdown at 2:33. Morales grew wearier as the fight proceeded, almost being dropped by Pacquiao two times earlier and only being held up by grabbing the ropes and the referee.

There were numerous all-out exchanges between these two throughout this fight, making it an early Fight of the Year candidate, although the momentum clearly shifted in Pacquiao's favor after the first few rounds. For the most part, Pacquiao abandoned his lunging tactics which left him more vulnerable to counterpunches in the last fight, and was more accurate this time around with the jab and body shots as the fight went on. Pacquiao also in part credited his increased power to his Cleto Reyes gloves, known as punchers' gloves, which he wore in this fight.

While there is a rematch clause, Morales said after the fight he is not sure if he can make the super featherweight limit of 130 once again, and needs a rest. Pacquiao did say that he would grant Morales a rematch. The HBO announcers, however, were already cheerleading for a rematch between Pacquiao and Marco Antonio Barrera.

In the pay-per-view co-feature, WBA 115-pound champion Martin Castillo survived a first-round knockdown to retain his title with a 12-round split decision in a rematch with former champion Alexander Munoz. This was a more competitive fight than their first, but Munoz faded down the stretch. With this win, Castillo solidified his spot as the top fighter in the world at this weight.

I am glad that I ordered the pay-per-view, although Time Warner Cable almost couldn't process the order, most likely, according to their phone rep, because there were "too many people" ordering it at once, meaning that they had too little infrastructure and support to do their jobs properly.

Expect HBO to rebroadcast Pacquiao-Morales 2 before next Saturday night's live Gatti-Damgaard fight.

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Free Digital Cable Box! 

Don't want to pay $44.95 for the pay-per-view tonight? Click here.

(Well, it's free to look!)

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Just What Boxing Needed 

Dan Rafael of ESPN.com is reporting that despite Zab Judah's loss Jan. 7 to unheralded Carlos Baldomir, his April 8 fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. will still take place.

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?

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Hairy Bowl XL 

Denver Broncos' quarterback Jake Plummer has said that both he and his Pittsburgh Steelers' counterpart, Ben Roethlisberger, are a couple of "dirtbags".

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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Big and Rich's "Comin' to Your City" Video 

To watch the video, click here. It's out of this world.

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Mixed Martial Arts: Frank Shamrock to Fight Cesar Gracie March 10 in San Jose, CA, in First State-Sanctioned Card 

This should be an event which should sell itself.

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.

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Friday is for Fighting 

It's Friday and ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" are back from hiatus.

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.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Wicked Wilson Pickett, 1941-2006 

Classic soul singer Wilson Pickett has passed away. He died Thursday of a heart attack at the age of 64.

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.

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Soul Woman 

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.

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How Not to Fight 

Here is what our tax dollars are being put to work for.

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"?

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"Bob Arum on the Crowning of an Undisputed Heavyweight Champion" on TheSweetScience.com 

My first weekly column on TheSweetScience.com, entitled Bob Arum on the Crowning of an Undisputed Heavyweight Champion, has been posted, for now on the main page. Have a gander, you geese.

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Erik Morales, Manny Pacquiao, and Freddie Roach Interviews 

While few rematches look like digitally-produced replicas of their fighters' original encounter, most seem to be won these days by the same boxer who prevailed in the first. When super featherweight stars Erik Morales (48-3, 34 KOs) from Mexico and Manny Pacquiao (40-3-2, 31 KOs) from the Philippines first fought last March 19, that battle was won by Morales by 12-round unanimous decision. So when these two face each other again this Sat., Jan. 21, in Las Vegas, we must try to ask what will be different this time around.

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.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A Terrible Idea 

Former WBC and WBA heavyweight champion "Terrible" Tim Witherspoon, age 48, has told Bernard Fernandez of the Philadelphia Daily News that he wants to make a comeback as a fighter.

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.

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A Love Supreme 

In this, my tenth year working online, even I am at times surprised by the wonders which await us on the Internet.

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.

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Royce Gracie, Back in His House 

So what was UFC's big announcement Monday night? Did WWE buy them? Did they buy WWE? Did WWE and UFC merge?

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.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

A Heavy Upset in College Wrestling 

So you like heavyweights? Well, they rocked the world of college wrestling this Sunday in the finals of the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals, held at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa. There the tournament's team championship between the undefeated and top-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys, the NCAA champions for the past three seasons, and the Golden Gophers, the NCAA champions the two previous years, came down to the final match between their heavyweights.

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.

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More Free UFC on Spike TV Tonight 

For those who want a chance to sample UFC for free to see what all the recent fuss has been about, tonight is another good opportunity. Spike TV will repeat its three-hour "UFC: Best of 2005" beginning at 7 PM ET. That will be followed at 10 PM ET by a two-hour live showing of "UFC's Ultimate Fight Night", also repeated at 1 AM ET.

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.

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Unhealthy Thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 

Apparently Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not speak much about the issue of health care directly, although one quote widely attributed to him is crystal clear both in its wisdom and bluntness: "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

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.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

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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Happy 41st Birthday, Bernard Hopkins 

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Muhammad Ali Center to Celebrate the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

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
Admission: FREE

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
(502) 584-9254

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And the Winner Is ... Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk 

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.

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Is Country Music Too White? 

[Note: I've already posted this on the forums at the New York City Bartenders & Patrons page, where I am nominally the music editor. And I thought such a gig would land me bazillions in payola. Anyway, I am reposting it here with the permission of the author (me -- just trying to see if you're still paying attention). There have already been several thoughtful responses there, all, in fact, more sober-minded than the original piece which spurred them. Of course, we don't go to all these bars to leave sober-minded, but the discussion thus far shows that a lot of the folks who frequent these honky tonks have more between their ears than stale beer.]

Village Voice music critic Tom Breihan has tried to tackle the often taboo subject of what he still unscientifically calls "race" and its relation to what is undoubtedly a form of music predominantly performed by and popular with whites: country music.

On his Voice blog, in "Country Music Grapples With Race", Breihan writes, "Here's the thing: pop music, as it exists in 2005, is basically black music, and it has been for some time. Country music is enormously popular. But country music is hugely, overwhelmingly white enough that it becomes an obvious target for the people who don't buy it, almost a punchline in itself."

By the way, he also doesn't like African-American country rapper Cowboy Troy, who calls his style hick-hop, at all. When Troy was in New York in September for some free concerts to hype the CMA Awards, Breihan dissed him. He wrote Troy "has no idea what rappers do onstage," as if he should merely mimic existing rappers.

In any case, Breihan's piece is attracting some attention outside of those few who still read this ad-filled giveaway. The country music industry web site All About Country has reposted this piece, and is even running a poll on the questions it raises.

As someone who is both a country music enthusiast and one who also abhors any kind of racism, I'd be interested to read folks' comments on this before jumping into the fray.

I would add that even those this piece might be taken as incendiary by some people, more important are the issues which it raises rather than the Voice's tone. So while strongly stating your case, please try to avoid turning this into a name-calling contest. Thanks.

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Corrales Injures Rib in Training, Rubber Match with Castillo Postponed 

When the third fight between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo was announced as being scheduled for Feb. 4, 2006, many boxing observers just shook their heads. These two had fought their first classic war last May, a certain to be named 2005 Fight of the Year, with a brutal rematch held in October. Many asked why these two would have to do it all again so soon, the third time in just nine months. It was like asking for trouble, with the memory of the late Leavander Johnson still fresh in everyone's minds.

As a sort of validation of those fears, it was revealed Friday afternoon that Diego Corrales has suffered an injury to his ribs while training, and the Feb. 4 date for his fight with Castillo has been postponed. Corrales's promoter Gary Shaw said in a press release posted below that he hopes to reschedule this fight for the late spring, probably meaning May or June so it can appear on Showtime on their monthly shows the first Saturday of each month.

Here is that press release:



RESEDA, Calif. (Jan. 13, 2006) - Lightweight champion Diego "Chico" Corrales suffered a rib injury while training this week forcing the postponement of his world title defense rematch against José Luis Castillo. Castillo-Corrales III, promoted by Top Rank and Gary Shaw Productions, was scheduled to take place Saturday, Feb. 4, and televised live on SHOWTIME from the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas. Bob Arum and Gary Shaw announced that they are looking for a new opponent to fight Castillo on Feb. 4.

"Chico hurt his ribs in sparring earlier this week," said promoter Gary Shaw. "He tried to fight through it, for a day or two before getting examined by a doctor late Thursday, who prescribed no training for the next three weeks to allow the injury to completely heal. Bob Arum and I will sit down with Showtime and discuss a new date for this fight, but we are confident it can be rescheduled for later in the spring."

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NEW YORK, January, 13-The Boxing Writers Association of America has voted to bestow a rarely-given honor upon four members of the boxing community. The James S. Farley Award is given in recognition of a career marked by "honesty and integrity." The last person so honored by the organization was Eddie Futch in 1996. This year, the BWAA extends the honor to four individuals.

Dr. Flip Homansky and Dr. Margaret Goodman are longtime advocates for high medical standards in boxing. During their tenure with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, they fought for implementation of life-saving medical reforms and refused to deviate from their commitment despite pressures that were put upon them.

Angelo Dundee is revered as a thoroughly decent man in an often mean spirited and back-biting business. Over the past half-century, he has trained fighters like Jimmy Ellis, Luis Rodriguez, Sugar Ramos, Willie Pastrano; and of course, Sugar Ray Leonard and Muhammad Ali.

Howie Albert has been part of the sweet science for decades as a manager, cutman, publicist, and jack-of-all trades. His designation is, by extension, an honor for all of the less famous men and women who toil in boxing's vineyards.

The James S. Farley Awards will be presented to recipients at the annual Boxing Writers Association of America dinner to be held on May 5th in Las Vegas.

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Eddie Joins TheSweetScience.com and Guests On Joey Reynolds Show Friday Night 

Here is the first of what should be at least a few announcements in the coming weeks about my media activities. (I'm the one in the photo wearing glasses.)

Starting next week, I will be writing a weekly boxing column for TheSweetScience.com, one of the most popular and prestigious boxing web sites, and also easily the fastest-growing in this genre. We finalized this with editor-in-chief Robert Ecksel Thursday, so look for some more no-holds-barred boxing commentary commencing there next week.

I also will be one of the guests late Friday night, early Saturday morning, Jan. 13/14, on the nationally-syndicated "Joey Reynolds Show", originating from WOR 710 AM radio in New York. This talk show airs live beginning at 1 AM ET and runs to 5 AM. My segment will likely be in the last two hours of the show.

Joey is celebrating his tenth anniversary on WOR and having a series of special shows featuring many of his regular guests. Also on this show will be veteran boxing writer Bert Sugar, but he will first be there to discuss his book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pro Wrestling, written with Captain Lou Albano. I won't be on that segment but will stick around with Bert to discuss boxing, and maybe even real wrestling.

You can also listen to the "Joey Reynolds Show" online. For more information on the show's webcast, go here.

The "Joey Reynolds Show" is heard on over 80 radio stations. For more information on the show, go here.

For more information on Myra Chanin, who is a producer for the show, and also about Joey and the show, go here.

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Top College Wrestling Teams Set for National Duals Tournament, Jan, 14-15, in Cedar Falls, Iowa 

Every season most of the top Division I college wrestling teams compete in a dual meet tournament which provides a preview of the NCAA championships. This year's event, called the 2006 NWCA Cliff Keen National Duals, takes place Sat., Jan. 14, and Sun., Jan. 15, at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa.

This year's tournament will include eight of the top ten teams in the latest NWCA/USA Today Top 25 poll of January 10: #1 Oklahoma State, #2 Minnesota, #3 Oklahoma, #5 Michigan, #6 Iowa, #7 Central Michigan, #8 Iowa State, and #9 Missouri. Also competing are #12 Cornell, #13 Northwestern, #14 Nebraska, #18 Arizona State, #19 Hofstra, #23 Northern Illinois, #24 Northern Iowa, and upstart Kent State, which recently upset Ohio State.

The official web site for this event is here.

Also, there will be a pay-per-view webcast of the finals and semifinals by Live Sports Video. Information on that can be found here..

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Vote for College Wrestling on ESPN.com Poll! 

ESPN.com is presently running a poll asking its users to vote for their favorite NCAA winter sport, "aside from basketball", they add. The five sports they offer as choices are wrestling, ice hockey, track and field, gymnastics, and swimming and diving.

Wrestling -- dubbed by this sport's fanatics (including moi) as the world's oldest and greatest sport -- is thus far winning this poll in a rout, and even without any hanging chads or faulty voting machines in the opposition's strongholds.

After 5459 votes (mine was the 5459th), here are the results:

Wrestling -- 67%
Ice hockey -- 22%
Track and field (indoor) -- 5%
Gymnastics -- 3%
Swimming and diving -- 2%

So go vote here, near the bottom of the page, and let the world know that wrestling has a sizable fan base which is likely more passionate about their favorite college sport than those of any other sport.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Unified Theory of Boxing and Economics 

Nobody seems to want to fight anymore in boxing.

Winky Wright and Jermain Taylor won't fight because of money. Right now Taylor is fighting no one. Floyd Mayweather might want to fight Wright or even Carlos Baldomir after the latter's victory over Zab Judah last Saturday, but Judah wants to fight Baldomir who only wants either Mayweather or Mosley. Arturo Gatti may want Baldomir who also probably won't want him. And few if any seem to want Ricky Hatton, who just may win a bunch of 2005 Fighter of the Year awards.

John Ruiz wants a rematch with Nicolay Valuev, but his new co-promoter Don King wants to bring the "Russian Giant" to America against someone else. King wants a heavyweight unification tournament, but Bob Arum, now promoter for WBC heavyweight champ Hasim Rahman, doesn't. And whatever happened to the Chris Byrd-Wladimir Klitschko rematch?

Behind all the moral posturing of all these souls is the quest to make as much money as possible. Since boxing has no formal structure like, say, the NFL, no one has to fight anyone, really. And money is at the root of all this delaying, postponing, avoiding, and maneuvering. Meanwhile, we're stuck with "Friday Night Fights".

So here's my solution: Abolish money, everywhere, for good. Then it is guaranteed that everyone, including you and me, will have to fight.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Newsflash: No Bloodshed at Rahman-Toney Presser! 

Flanked by a small detail of grim-looking security men wearing sports jackets, ties, and lapel pins with a big "S" on them, WBC heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman and challenger James Toney managed to have a press conference Tuesday at New York's Tavern on the Green restaurant without turning the place red.

These two will get to square off against each other March 18 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, in a bout which will be shown in the U.S. on HBO and is promoted by Top Rank.

Both fighters confidently predicted that they would win by knockout. That is as it should be. But things have sunk so low in boxing that all involved must be applauded for their discipline at this crowded press conference and their desire to promote this fight not as a brawl fueled by personal antagonisms but as a major sporting event.

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BWAA Press Release

NEW YORK-January, 10-Tim Graham has been elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Graham, who covers boxing and hockey for the Buffalo News, succeeds Bernard Fernandez of the Philadelphia Daily News, who had served four one-year terms from 2002 through 2005.

The remaining slate of officers -- first vice president Steve Farhood, vice presidents Ron Borges, Thomas Hauser and Jack Hirsch, secretary Denis Nolan and treasurer Scott Shaffer -- was retained in a vote of members at the BWAA's annual winter business meeting in New York.

As a reporter for the Buffalo News, Graham has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors, New York State Associated Press Association and Missouri School of Journalism. Before joining the Buffalo News he worked at the Las Vegas Sun where he won six Nevada Press Association awards and received a Knight Center for Specialized Journalism fellowship. He also writes for ESPN.com.

"The strength of any professional association lies in its brotherhood," said Graham, who stated he would increase the content of the BWAA's website, www.bwaa.org, to make it "more functional and helpful. I also believe members should be encouraged to become more familiar with and write about some of the pressing reform issues in boxing today. There's so much more to the sport than what goes on inside the ring."

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Kinky Friedman: The Next Governor of the State of Texas? 

Is the campaign to place Kinky Friedman on the ballot as an independent running for governor of Texas just another gag by the humorist, mystery novelist, and country singer?

Consider all these facts: Kinky's campaign manager is former Minnesota Senator Dean Barkley, who managed the successful campaign of Jesse Ventura when he ran as an independent for governor of Minnesota.

While the incumbent Republican Governor Rick Perry remains the favorite to be reelected, a major split has developed in the Texas Republican Party and Perry's adminsitration.

State Comptroller Carole Strayhorn has recently announced that she is also entering this race. Although she is a Republican, she, too, will try to run as an independent. Strayhorn is quite well-connected: She is the mother of White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan.

Meanwhile, Friedman's campaign is steaming ahead. This Thursday, Jan, 12, he will be having a major fundraiser in Houston.

It will be hosted by noted fundraiser and philanthropist Dr. Carolyn Farb. There will be performances by country legends Jerry Jeff Walker and Billy Joe Shaver. Also appearing will be comic Ruth Buzzi as well as Little Jewford, noted as the “last surviving member” of Kinky's original band, Kinky Friedman and The Texas Jewboys.

And note this: To get in, minimum contributions are $500 per person.

So how are the voters in Texas reacting? Well, in a Zogby Poll in November, Perry still led with 41 percent, but Kinky had 21 percent. And that was before Strayhorn's defection from Perry, the recent round of positive media coverage for Kinky, and a shift in Kinky's campaign from mainly slinging comedic one-liners to putting forth real positions and explaining a viable strategy to win a race with several major candidates.

Now that sounds serious.

Thankfully, however, the Kinkster hasn't completely dropped his act. Just sit back and view the first KinkyToon and decide for yourself, whether you live somewhere down in Texas or somewhere else.

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