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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Sunday, June 01, 2014

No Holds Barred: Mike Chapman on the Keys to Catch Wrestling Growing 

Mike Chapman - Photo courtesy of Mike Chapman Collection

Martin Farmer Burns poses with his most famous pupil, Frank Gotch, circa 1905 - Photo courtesy of Mike Chapman Collection

Abraham Lincoln wrestling at the age of 22 in New Salem, Illinois - Artwork by Carole and Jack Bender - Courtesy of Mike Chapman Collection

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with wrestling historian and author Mike Chapman.

He is presently en route, by car, from his home in Iowa to California for what is shaping up to be an historical wrestling event.

That event is the Catch Wrestling Alliance International Invitational: The Rebirth.

This event will be held Saturday, June 7. The location is the Collins Court in the John Wooden Center on the campus of UCLA, at 221 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, California 90095-1612. In this event, you can only win by pin or submission.

We spoke with Mike Chapman by phone Thursday.

Aside from his dislike of flying, one of the reasons he is driving all the way from Iowa to California, with stops in-between, is because he is transporting an exhibition of rare catch wrestling memorabilia to be shown at the June 7 event. These include: the favorite derby hat of then-world heavyweight wrestling champion Frank Gotch, with a photo of Gotch wearing it in 1910; a poster of Frank Gotch and other top challengers for the world title from 1910; a program from the Frank Gotch-George Hackenschmidt wrestling match held on September 4, 1911, in Chicago in front of 30,000 fans (the most discussed pro match of all time); a framed signed letter that Frank Gotch wrote in 1913; a framed original artwork of a Frank Gotch poster; framed artwork of Abraham Lincoln wrestling as a young man, at the age of 22 in 1831 in New Salem, Illinois; and many more. He will also have wrestling books and posters for sale.

The main part of our discussion with Mike Chapman was about how catch wrestling can develop from these initial stages of revival into retaking its place as a major spectator and recreational sport.

Noting that already it is on the "right path," he said, "The test will be, can it grow?"

In order to grow, he mentioned several key requirements.

"The formula's there. We know what we have to do," he said.

"Catch wrestling has to form an alliance of leaders, and they have to come together and form a business plan. They have to find enough money to be self-sustaining for a couple of years and to hire an executive director who can put plans into action. And then they have to get on TV. To me, it's about a six-step process."

We also discussed how the upcoming film "Foxcatcher", about the life of Olympic and world champion wrestler Mark Schultz and the 1996 murder of his brother, fellow Olympic and world champion wrestler Dave Schultz, by multimillionaire John du Pont, may impact the sport of wrestling. Due to premiere in November of this year, the film's director, Bennett Miller, recently won the best director award at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, with many film critics predicting that the film is a top Oscar contender.

In addition, we discussed that while catch wrestling is a "niche sport," it still has great potential to find a major audience; why it needs more exposure and promotion; how getting sponsors is essential; and much more.

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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.

Catch Wrestling Alliance International Invitational: The Rebirth. This invitational event will be held under catch wrestling rules, where you can only win by pin or submission. It will take place Saturday, June 7, in Collins Court in the John Wooden Center on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles, California. For more information, go to catchwrestlingalliance.com.

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