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Sunday, January 26, 2020

No Holds Barred: Maxwell Kalu on the African Warriors Fighting Championship in 2020 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with Maxwell Kalu, founder and CEO of the African Warriors Fighting Championship.

We spoke with him by Skype Friday.

The African Warriors Fighting Championship made its debut in 2019 with three events, all in Nigeria, featuring traditional wrestling and Dambe, a style of boxing popular in West Africa.

"It's been a real ride," he said.

"I have to remind myself every now and again that's it's not even been a year. We launched in April, so still less than a year in, but really happy with the progress we've made so far," he explained.

"We ended the year with a bang. We did our biggest event to date, which was 'Coronation of Kings'. That was a real big moment for us, in that the goal of that event was just taking traditional sport in Nigeria to a different level, delivering a new level of event in a different setting, and for us, capturing content of a better quality and producing more of it. The event went really well. We're really happy with how it went.

"Just looking back at 2019, we're really happy with the year. So, so far, so good."

But as a relatively young organization, for the African Warriors Fighting Championship there is still much basic work to be done.

"A big part of what we had to do and what we continue to do is just tell people what we are and what we're doing," he said. "People in the U.K., people in the U.S., they're a world away from Nigeria, they're a world away from Africa. So the starting point really is just building awareness, having people understand that this rich culture of combat sports exists in Africa, and having people understand that African Warriors as an organization is taking it to new heights."

We discussed how 2019 involved a lot of testing of how to run events, the growing response from the African diaspora in the U.K. and the U.S., and the keen interest in both the general media and the combat sports media in many countries.

For 2020, the focus "for now" will still be on Nigeria. An announcement is expected soon on plans for the first event of the year, which will again be in Lagos, Nigeria.

This new year the African Warriors Fighting Championship will be building "a national network of athletes" across Nigeria. We also discussed that there will be more events in 2020 than in 2019, that the quantity and quality will improve, that more videos will be produced and released, some of the challenges of running events in Nigeria, the rulesets for wrestling and Dambe that are used, and much, much more.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link does not work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is available at Google Play Music.

Also, No Holds Barred is available at Apple Podcasts.

You can also listen to No Holds Barred via Stitcher through iOS or Android devices or on the web here.

The PodOmatic Podcast Player app is available for free, both for Android at Google Play, and for iOS on the App Store.

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

No Holds Barred is sponsored by:

Skullz Combat Sports Equipment, creator of the patented Skullz Double-End Bag, is the perfect punching bag for your combat sports training. Skullz Double-End Bags provide a realistic striking target, and help improve speed, distance, and timing skills. Hang it and hit it right out of the box! No pump required. Skullz Combat Sports Equipment - Advancing combat sports equipment for the next generation of fighters. For more information, go to https://instagram.com/skullzcombatsports and https://facebook.com/skullzcombatsports.

Adolphina Studios. Original art prints and handcrafted fine jewelry. For more information, go to https://www.etsy.com/shop/AdolphinaStudios.

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Sunday, January 19, 2020

No Holds Barred: Chris Baldwin on Wilder-Fury 2 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with our correspondent Chris Baldwin.

She was at this past Monday's press conference in Los Angeles for the rematch between WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) and Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs). Their first fight, in Dec. 2018, ended in a controversial split draw, with most observers saying that Fury deserved the win. The rematch is scheduled to take place Feb. 22, 2020, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. In the U.S., it will be shown on a pay-per-view being jointly put on by FOX Sports and ESPN.

We spoke with Chris Baldwin by phone Friday.

"This was a really interesting presser. It was way smaller than the last presser, where they actually had a little fight on stage," she said, referring to the press conferences on the media tour for their first fight.

"Fury walked out on the stage as his name was called. No one clapped. That was one of the first things I noticed, and he seemed a bit taken aback by that, because he got no love. But then again, like I said, it was a small, media-only event. There were no fans present like the last time," she continued.

"And then when Wilder walked out, he had the WBC strap across his shoulders, and he did get a little bit of a round of applause. And then they faced off, and that's when the smack-talking began."

We discussed what we learned from this press conference, why this is an important fight for all boxing as well as the heavyweight division, how each fighter might win or lose this fight, the WWE-style bombast from Fury who recently performed in WWE, the poor media analysis of this press conference and the fight itself, the dismal prospects for the pay-per-view, what might be next for other top heavyweights including Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr., and much, much more.

(Photo of Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury by Chris Baldwin.)

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link does not work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is available at Google Play Music.

Also, No Holds Barred is available at Apple Podcasts.

You can also listen to No Holds Barred via Stitcher through iOS or Android devices or on the web here.

The PodOmatic Podcast Player app is available for free, both for Android at Google Play, and for iOS on the App Store.

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

No Holds Barred is sponsored by:

Skullz Combat Sports Equipment, creator of the patented Skullz Double-End Bag, is the perfect punching bag for your combat sports training. Skullz Double-End Bags provide a realistic striking target, and help improve speed, distance, and timing skills. Hang it and hit it right out of the box! No pump required. Skullz Combat Sports Equipment - Advancing combat sports equipment for the next generation of fighters. For more information, go to https://instagram.com/skullzcombatsports and https://facebook.com/skullzcombatsports.

Adolphina Studios. Original art prints and handcrafted fine jewelry. For more information, go to https://www.etsy.com/shop/AdolphinaStudios.

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

My Articles in Ringside Seat and Black Belt Are Out Now 


They are both available now! Ringside Seat 9 has my article on the Joshua-Ruiz 2 fight. The Feb.-March 2020 Black Belt has my article on the African Warriors Fighting Championship. For No Holds Barred combat sports journalism, get them both!

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

No Holds Barred: Caradh O'Donovan On Athlete Activism, Moving From Kickboxing To Karate, And The Olympics 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with former kickboxer and current member of the Irish karate team Caradh O'Donovan.

She is also a member of the start-up group of the new international athlete-led movement Global Athlete.

We spoke with her by Skype Thursday.

Previously an amateur kickboxing world and European champion, Caradh O'Donovan recently made the transition to karate, and has become an Irish national karate champion. With karate being included on the program of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, she hopes to represent Ireland there.

But her road to qualifying for the Olympics was almost derailed when a split and dispute between two rival governing groups prevented her and other athletes from competing in major karate events. It was then that she and these athletes contacted Global Athlete, who, along with the World Karate Federation, assisted them in finally being allowed to compete in these events.

"I didn't know anything about them until I got it touch," she said about Global Athlete. "When they asked me to come onboard the start-up group, I was delighted."

What she soon learned was that the kind of governance issues which were plaguing karate in Ireland were far from rare.

"I wouldn't even say it's so much an eye-opener, but I've had a lot of issues," she said. "I struggled with sport over the years. I've always kind of been labeled as a troublemaker, because I would say things that I didn't agree, speak up with things I didn't agree with."

In the past, "I always thought it was just me, I always thought it was just my sport. And I thought, 'Well, maybe it's because we're not really a professional sport and other sports seem to have it all together, because nobody has been saying anything.' So I genuinely thought I was a troublemaker and I'm the only one with issues, because that's what I've been told."

Now as part of the Global Athlete start-up group, it is clear that there are "other issues and it's the same across every sport. So it's kind of nice to know you're not on your own."

But the scope of these problems is daunting.

"Obviously it's not a good thing that there's so many people with issues in sport and there's that kind of dark side." Now working with Global Athlete has given her more power to deal with these kinds of issues, and "I'm happy to be part of that."

We discussed the adjustments in technique and training she has had to make in transitioning from kickboxing to karate; the rules under which she has been competing; her best techniques in karate; dealing with injuries and illness; why this will likely be her only shot at qualifying for and competing in the Olympics; the Olympic qualifying events in karate in which she will be competing; her background in sports management and sports psychology; how ethics in sport are important to her; life as a full-time athlete; and much, much more.

(Photo of Caradh O'Donovan at the 2018 Irish Kenpo Karate Union Open by Noel Bergin.)

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link does not work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is available at Google Play Music.

Also, No Holds Barred is available at Apple Podcasts.

You can also listen to No Holds Barred via Stitcher through iOS or Android devices or on the web here.

The PodOmatic Podcast Player app is available for free, both for Android at Google Play, and for iOS on the App Store.

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

No Holds Barred is sponsored by:

Skullz Combat Sports Equipment, creator of the patented Skullz Double-End Bag, is the perfect punching bag for your combat sports training. Skullz Double-End Bags provide a realistic striking target, and help improve speed, distance, and timing skills. Hang it and hit it right out of the box! No pump required. Skullz Combat Sports Equipment - Advancing combat sports equipment for the next generation of fighters. For more information, go to https://instagram.com/skullzcombatsports and https://facebook.com/skullzcombatsports.

Adolphina Studios. Original art prints and handcrafted fine jewelry. For more information, go to https://www.etsy.com/shop/AdolphinaStudios.

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