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Monday, December 28, 2020

Two New Articles on the No Holds Barred Patreon Page 

If you haven't done so already -- and now most Americans can use part of their $600 check (lol) -- please subscribe to the No Holds Barred Page on Patreon. The first two new pieces have been posted, for subscribers only.

The first and longest is entitled "Can Fury vs. Joshua Actually Happen in 2021?" This article explores the many obstacles that need to be overcome to make what should be a no-brainer of a fight. But (insert rimshot and cymbals), this is boxing. (https://youtu.be/9CdVTCDdEwI

The second, shorter piece is about a 24-year-old Ghanian would-be boxing prospect with a 3-0 record, entitled "Ghana's New Heavyweight, Ishmael Djan". Hopefully we can learn more about the trajectory of his career in the coming year.

There is a lot more to come, and not only on the heavyweights and boxing.

The No Holds Barred Patreon page is at https://www.patreon.com/eddiegoldman.

(Photo of Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury 2 by Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions. Photo of Anthony Joshua vs. Kubrat Pulev by Mark Robinson, Matchroom Boxing.)

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Sunday, December 27, 2020

Subscribe to the No Holds Barred Page on Patreon 

I hope you are staying safe in this pandemic as this ghastly year wraps up.

For about three decades now, I've been creating combat sports media. I've hosted and produced shows on radio, then Internet radio, and next through podcasts. I've had articles appear on countless combat sports and martial arts web sites, and in magazines and newspapers. This coming March will mark 15 years of the No Holds Barred podcast, started at a time when you had to explain to people what a podcast was.

My content has also usually been ahead of the curve, focusing on rising trends, interviews with many seeking to bolster the combat sports as sports and not spectacles, and exposing the many drawbacks that plague these sports. I've earned, the hard way, many accolades, including being named "conscience of combat sports" and receiving a lifetime achievement award about 12 years ago.

But now I face a dilemma. Besides all the problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic and even before it, a grave situation has been facing most media members and particularly those of us in sports media. There have been seemingly endless rounds of layoffs, closures of both online and print media outlets, and continuing marginalization of and chronic crises in the combat sports.

For me, this has meant that many doors that had been open to paid media work either have been closed or have vanished. Much of what is left of the sports media rubble is souped-up propaganda and public relations for promoters, networks, and the like, along with a lot of just plain old dumb stuff. Concurrent with this has been the cancelling, postponing, or major downsizing of many sporting events due to the pandemic.

So where to go next? While I've certainly been slowed down, I'm not yet ready for the pasture, and even Covid-19 couldn't shut me up for too long (to the amazement of some very fine doctors).

Fortunately, one of the things that has played utter havoc with the old financial models of the media has also provided some new opportunities. That, bubbelehs, is the Internet (I still capitalize it).

Thus, after discussions with many close friends and colleagues, in order to earn more income from my labor, I have decided to use the web site Patreon.

This site will enable me to post media, including written, images, audio, and perhaps video, most of which will only be available to paying subscribers. It is also possible that it might include a little advertising, but that may be down the road. 

On Patreon, I would still chiefly be focusing on the combat sports and martial arts, with an emphasis on boxing and various styles of wrestling, along with issues relating to sport corruption and human rights in sports in general. But don't expect much on MMA at all, particularly since its largest outfit, UFC, has metastasized into a vulgar, cruel, and dishonorable spectacle. I would also include new posts, along with reposting some older ones when they are relevant.

This site allows "creators" to set up subscriber-only tiers to access the content. I will have only one paid tier, at least for the start. From my research, I have found that Patreon subscribers are charged an average of US$12 a month. The subscriber-only tier for my work, again at least at the start, will be only $10 a month.

Also, the No Holds Barred podcast will remain free to listen to or download. So please sign up to become a subscriber. You won't find this kind of No Holds Barred analysis and writing elsewhere.

The No Holds Barred Patreon page is at https://www.patreon.com/eddiegoldman.

Thanks, Eddie Goldman

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Thursday, December 17, 2020

Statement from Jim Walden, Lawyer for Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, on CAS decision in WADA v. RUSADA Arbitration 

From Jim Walden: 

“The decision by CAS to effectively ‘split the baby’ is nonsensical and undeserved. Despite overwhelming proof of corruption, doping fraud and obstruction of justice, including a brazen attempt to falsely incriminate Dr. Rodchenkov through fabricated evidence, CAS has once again proven itself unwilling and unable to meaningfully deal with systematic and long-standing criminality by Russia. CAS reduced the ban by half, allowing Russian athletes to participate in international sporting events anyway, and in effect upheld an already-limited ban in name only. To the millions of clean athletes who were or will be cheated by dirty Russian athletes as a result of today’s ruling, please know that stronger angels have emerged and that the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act now gives the U.S. Department of Justice the power to step in to fill the void left by CAS, which consistently trivializes the longstanding and deeply rooted corruption by the Russian Federation.”

Jim Walden, Lawyer for Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov

December 17, 2020


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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

'Sumo East And West' Review from 2003 


[Note: The film "Sumo East and West" was shown at the 2003 Tribeca Film Festival in New York, which I attended. I wrote a review of it which was posted on May 12, 2003, on one of the many web sites which regularly destroyed its archives. Despite this affront to journalism, history, and decency, I found it on the indispensable Internet Archive, a resource which should be supported. This review also offered a brief glimpse of the state of sumo in the U.S. in 2003, with the link updated being the only change in the text of the piece from the original.

The film itself is not now available for streaming, according to a recent conversation with its filmmakers, Ferne Pearlstein and Bob Edwards, but they do hope to get it back up soon somewhere. I've done other later analyses of the ups and downs of the World Sumo Challenge and World Sumo League in 2005 and 2006, a tribute to Manny Yarbrough who passed away five years ago this month, and am currently doing interviews about the recent revival of sumo in the U.S., all of which can be found on this site. Hopefully those involved in sumo today can learn from the positive and negative lessons of what has happened to the sport outside Japan in the past. Arigato.]

'Sumo East And West' -- Another Winning Combat Sports Film At Tribeca Film Festival

While many people around the world are aware of the existence of sumo, outside of Japan few know much about its inner workings, history, and tradition. A new film, 'Sumo East and West,' which just debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York this past week, provides a stirring, in-depth look at this often closed world. Put together by two American filmmakers, Ferne Pearlstein and Robert Edwards, who admittedly aimed at presenting 'the perspective of outsiders,' this documentary is a film that can make you fall in love with sumo.

Much of the film centers on the struggles of American sumo wrestler Wayne Vierra, who had to cut short his pro sumo career in Japan because of injuries. Vierra returned home to Hawaii, and has also returned to sumo, but this time on the amateur circuit, outside Japan. While Pearlstein and Edwards are filmmakers and not sports journalists, their focus on Vierra and several American-born sumo legends like Akebono, Konishiki, Jesse Kuhaulua, and Manny Yarbrough, is done in the grand tradition of sports story-telling that features the human side of the competitions.

As Akebono said in the film, sumo is not merely a sport. Rather, it is a lifestyle. That is captured vividly here with behind-the-scenes shots contrasting the life and treatment of the newcomers to sumo, who are on the lowest rung of its ladder, and the stars and champions, who are treated like gods in Japan. The difficulties of Americans breaking into this world are dealt with clearly, including the controversial failure of Konishiki ever to be awarded the status of Yokozuna (Grand National Champion).

The film also explores the attitude of the official sumo establishment to women. While the rising amateur sumo ranks include women's competition, in pro sumo in Japan, women are still prohibited from even entering the dohyo, or match circle. Pearlstein related after the film's showing that when they were shooting it in Japan, she had to be careful not to enter the dohyo, lest the Japan Sumo Association revoke the access they had provided to the filmmakers.

This moving film is not a movie just for hardcore sumo fans, which is also its strength. There are plenty of places for that kind of documentation. What is missing, especially in North America, is a good introduction to the sport and its culture. That is accomplished here by Pearlstein and Edwards, who also do not come from the worlds of martial arts or combat sports. They thus speak to the general public, and do so successfully. They also said that time constraints in this 85-minute film prevented them from including some topics that might have interested the more dedicated sumo fans, such as technique used in the matches. Also, they said that issues like allegations of fixed matches in sumo were not broached in this film, again because this would have had them lose the access they did have from the Japan Sumo Association. In no way does the absence of the mentioning of these issues in this film detract from the tremendous contribution it makes to building support for and understanding of sumo.

The screenings at the Tribeca Film Festival were held in a movie theater in downtown Manhattan directly next to Ground Zero. If ever you needed a reminder of the need for greater international understanding, and the destructive power of unbridled cultural and international hate, ignorance, and fanaticism, that is it. Hopefully this film can contribute to greater international understanding. A central theme was the contrast of cultures, especially between the world of sumo, which is immersed in ancient traditions, and the growing Westernization of Japan's youth, as seen by the myriad shots of Japanese youth with bleached blonde hair, Western rock 'n' roll-type outfits, and quite untraditional behavior.

In the end, sumo shows that the culture of the big guys truly has an international appeal. The failure of sumo thus far to get a major foothold in the sports world in America is touched on here. Footage of the 1998 'Night of the Giants' tournament in Atlantic City, which was also shown on ESPN2 and was part of a failed attempt toestablish pro sumo league, are included in the film. Also shown is footage of the North American Sumo Championships, in a distinctly sleazy and cheesy presentation at Hollywood Park, in direct contrast to the solemn and graceful settings for sumo in Japan.

'Sumo East and West' will soon be widely available to the general public. Edwards said to expect it to be broadcast early next year in the U.S. on PBS, although that version will have to be cut down to fit into an hourlong timeslot. The filmmakers have also retained the video rights, so expect a video of the complete version to be available soon as well.

This touching film could contribute to the growth of sumo in America. Since it was shot in 2000, there have been some welcome developments in sumo in America. The California Sumo Association has already hosted two annual U.S. Sumo Open tournaments. The second was covered in the April 2003 edition of Grappling. The 3rd annual U.S. Sumo Open will take place Sunday, August 3, at the Manhattan Country Club in Manhattan Beach, CA, in the Los Angeles area. For more information, go to: https://www.usasumo.com.

So, in the wake of last year's 'The Smashing Machine: The Life and Times of Mark Kerr,' the combat sports have provided the story for yet another triumphant documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival. That shouldn't be surprising, since many of us have long felt that the drama that unfolds in the combat sports is unparalleled anyway. Now many in the filmmaking world are also discovering that, a development which can only be mutually beneficial.

I generally don't review movies, so I don't have a standard scale to rate them. Whichever scale you like, this one gets the highest rating possible. 'Sumo East and West' is a wonderful, must-see film not only for sumo and combat sports fans, but for anyone who can appreciate a great, true story. Don't miss it when it comes your way.

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Monday, December 14, 2020

No Holds Barred: Justin Kizzart of Dark Circle Sumo 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with Justin Kizzart of Dark Circle Sumo.

Besides founding this sumo club in Austin, Texas, he still regularly competes in the sport and is a trustee of the U.S. Sumo Federation.

We spoke with him by phone Thursday.

Even with the coronavirus pandemic still raging, this was a busy year for Dark Circle Sumo. Along with Dark Clan Fight Lab, they hosted the inaugural Consulate's Cup open invitation sumo tournament in Austin on October 10, 2020. Justin Kizzart himself participated in the Second Annual Queen City Sumo Open hosted by the Ohayo Sumo Association, held December 13, 2020, in Franklin, Ohio, near Cincinnati. There he finished third in the men's lightweight division.

With coronavirus vaccines now starting to be available, 2021 looks to be an even bigger year as sumo in the U.S. revives.

So far, Dark Circle Sumo is scheduled to host two important events.

The first Women's Invitational National Sumo Tournament, hosted by heavyweight sumo wrestler Eros Armstrong, is scheduled for March 6, 2021, in Austin.

For 2021, the U.S. Sumo Federation has also scheduled the 2021 U.S. National and North American Championships to be held in Austin, on June 19, 2021. This will serve as the qualifying event for the 2021 Sumo World Championships in Krotoszyn, Poland in September 2021. 

These will set the stage for a major multi-sport event in which sumo is included on the program: The World Games.

The 11th edition of The World Games, usually held staged every four years, was originally scheduled for 2021, but was postponed to 2022 due to the Tokyo Summer Olympics being postponed from 2020 to 2021. Now The World Games is scheduled to take place July 7-17, 2022, and be held in the U.S., in Birmingham, Alabama. 3,600 athletes from over 30 sports and 100 countries are expected to take part in The World Games in 2022.

Besides being able to compete on a world stage in the U.S. in The World Games, qualifying events are slated to be held in December 2021, offering another opportunity for American sumo wrestlers to compete at home and build their sport. 

"The year's going to be pretty big, leading up to Birmingham. It is going to be a pivotal moment for sumo," said Justin Kizzart.

"And I think that we have time to really step up what we do here, so that Americans can root. It's here on home soil. So I think it will be exciting for Americans to begin to know the sport, and to start rooting for the different teams that are growing going into the World Games."

And he emphasized, "This is going to be so good for us, so good for us. So I'm excited to see what's coming in the next year and a half."

We also discussed what appealed to him about sumo so that he got so involved in the sport, the need for sumo wrestlers in the U.S. to learn from the training and conditioning methods used by international teams, how sumo bridges the gap between different martial arts, how he started the Consulate's Cup and taught himself about live streaming, training in the 82 winning techniques in sumo, and much, much more.

If you are able to, please make a donation to support No Holds Barred so that the truth can still be told. You can do so at PayPal.me/nhbnews.

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

No Holds Barred is also available on these sites and apps: 
  Google Podcasts 
  Amazon Music 
  Apple Podcasts 
  Stitcher 
  Spotify 
  Anchor

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:

LenneHardt.com, the home of Lenne Hardt, the legendary MMA and sports announcer, voice actor, singer, actress, and comedienne. Lenne is also known for her jazz vocals with her Lenne Hardt Jazz Cabaret Band. For more information, to book her, or to order a custom message from her, go to LenneHardt.com.

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, December 10, 2020

No Holds Barred: Ed Suczewski on Sumo in the U.S.  

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with Ed Suczewski, a U.S. sumo champion and president of the U.S. Sumo Federation

We spoke with him by phone Wednesday.

Sumo is a sport to which Ed Suczewski, who competed in American folkstyle wrestling while in school, said he was "instantly drawn". He eventually began competing in sumo, and from there his involvement in and commitment to the sport rapidly grew. But it was not his original intention to become a leader in it.

"In terms of getting involved in the leadership, it's not something I ever really set out to do, but it was just a need that I saw needed to be filled," he said. "I felt the federation had been around for a long time, and a lot of the people who came before me did a lot of great things to move the sport forward. But I felt like I had some ideas and maybe a new direction I could bring to the table. So for that reason, I wanted to get involved and just kind of see what I could offer."

Encouraging and supporting the local and regional sumo clubs to host their own events, like the recent Consulate's Cup in Austin, Texas, has helped expand the sport, he explained.

"In terms of a new direction, I've been really inspired by what these different clubs are doing. And I think for the federation to do what it's doing now, which is taking on more of a bottom-up leadership style rather than a top-down leadership style, and giving the clubs the freedom to really push the boundaries of the sport and move things forward, I think is what we're trying to do," he said.

"And so, opening the door more and more for these clubs and these individual athletes and promoters to move the sport forward, is where we're at."

An icon and star of the past of American sumo is the late Manny Yarbrough. He is still the only American ever to have won a gold medal at the world championships organized by the International Sumo Federation, when in 1995 he was the champion in the open weight division. He also won silver medals in 1992, 1994, and 1996, and a bronze medal in 1993. We discussed finding a way for the U.S. Sumo Federation to honor Manny Yarbrough and his legacy. "It can be done," said Ed Suczewski.

We also discussed the notable enthusiasm for the sport from those involved with the U.S. Sumo Federation today, how sumo is very easy for fans to understand while still involving much technique, how unlike some other combat sports "sumo is actually fun" and builds respect, how it is a family-friendly sport, its still untapped potential outside Japan, the need for a sumo club in New York, how it is the sport best suited for the TikTok short-form video-sharing service, and much, much more.

If you are able to, please make a donation to support No Holds Barred so that the truth can still be told. You can do so at PayPal.me/nhbnews.

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

No Holds Barred is also available on these sites and apps: 
  Google Podcasts 
  Amazon Music 
  Apple Podcasts 
  Stitcher 
  Spotify 
  Anchor

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:

LenneHardt.com, the home of Lenne Hardt, the legendary MMA and sports announcer, voice actor, singer, actress, and comedienne. Lenne is also known for her jazz vocals with her Lenne Hardt Jazz Cabaret Band. For more information, to book her, or to order a custom message from her, go to LenneHardt.com.

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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