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Interview with Daniella Éltető - The Machine from Hungary

  • Published in Interviews

Hungary's 19 year old phenom, Daniella Éltető has won yet another pro world title. She stepped into the ring recently 11-Oct-2014 at Fight 4 Glory's event in Switzerland for WKU's Pro Muay Thai title. Her opponent was french muay thai National Champion Magali Foroni (34). Foroni with a championship to her name has achieved a lot in her career and gained lots of experience. Fans could see her fighting Tiffany Van Soest at Lion Fight 12 in 2013. No Hungarian female fighter had WKU's pro Muay Thai title before which makes the win even more special.  We interviewed "The Machine" the next day of the fight to ask a few questions on the fight and her plans. 

Q: - Hello Daniella! First of all, congrats on the huge win! How hard was keeping everything in sync and prepare while you had to learn as well? You recently started University, right?

A: - Thank you guys. Yes it wasn't easy at all. There were tons of stuff to do because of my studies and I had to pull out of two fights as well because of health issues. The first one would've been a WKN title fight in Bosnia and the other one for a pro Muay Thai title in Romania.

Q: - Did you arrive for the fight or you got to Switzerland a bit earlier so you could train and acclimate a bit?

A: - Unfortunately I couldn't get  there earlier as I had an exam right before the fight on Thursday..

Q: - What was the biggest challenge against Foroni? Did you find some holes in her game, some weak points?

A: - She's tried to keep me under pressure but we prepared for this fight. Our strategy was to attack the legs so every time the opportunity arised I went for it. I've landed many inside and outside low kicks but she was quite enduring. In the 4th round I've managed to get her in the clinch and landed many knees and elbows until finally they've thrown in the towel.

Q: - What's next? Do you have any plans for the rest of the year or do you want to take some time off and focus on your studies?

A: - There's another big fight right on the corner. If all goes well I'll fight in about two weeks in Milan. I have some small injuries but I expect to heal up just fine by then. I need a few days off and after that I'll be right back into preparing for the next battle.

Q: - Congrats upon the great win and being the first female combat sports athlete form Hungary to ever wear WKU's pro Muay Thai belt. Any message to the fans?

A: - First of all I'd like to thank Shindokai-Kan Hungary – KYO-Shin SE, my master/trainer/dad Péter Éltető and János Laub for helping me to prepare for this fight and everyone else for the encouragement, congratulations.

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Five Questions With GLORY's Marc de Bonte

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Throughout the history of kickboxing and muay thai, Holland, Thailand and Japan have been the hotspots for stars in the sport. Although there have been numerous practitioners from other countries, rarely did they achieve the level of success or acclaim of their peers in the aforementioned countries. Thanks to organizations like the now defunct, It's Showtime and more recently Glory Sports International, stars from the United States and throughout western Europe and Asia are receiving more attention. Belgium, for instance, internationally known for numerous Tour de France victories as well as strong showings in motor racing and motocross has not been so well known for stars inside the ring, if you don't count 1980's action star Jean-Claude Van Damme. Today, however the land known for its delicious chocolates, fine arts and picturesque beauty is quickly becoming one of the hotspots for future stars in the sport, much due to strong showings over the last few years by Filip Verlinden, Marc DeBonte, Marat Grigorian and Jamal Ben Saddik .

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to ask Marc DeBonte a few questions about his career and goals for the future.

SW: At what age did you begin training?

MD: I started young at 6 years of age and also did my first youth fight at that age.

SW: You are currently ranked number 3 in Glory with a 2-2 record thus far, what is your overall professional record?

MD: My overall professional record is 87 wins-12 loses-1 draw

SW: You are known for your brutal knees, what do you feel are your other strengths as a fighter?

MD: Mostly I feel my boxing and knees are my best points but I am pretty all round and I can adapt pretty fast to any style.

SW: I'm sure one of your goals this year is to regain the belt from Valtellini, any other goals for this year?

MD: Yes to regain the belt and win the tournament at the end of the year, also to get my ranking in professional boxing up. We will see how it goes .

SW: I know you have trained in Hemmers Gym. Where are you currently training?

MD: I train at Tay gym with my trainer Ludo Kaethoven who has been my trainer for the last 8 years now. We work together with Hemmers Gym to get good quality sparring since a lot of high level Glory fighters train there as well.

With the year having reached the 3/4 mark, it is debatable as to whether DeBonte will be rematched with Valtellini by year's end. A rematch, however seems inevitable and the world will see whether improvements in DeBonte's boxing will be sufficient to push him past Valtellini's Tae Kwon Do base and equally powerful legs and low kicks. Whether it's 2014 or 2015, the rematch between DeBonte and Valtellini promises to be explosive.

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K-1's Ned Kuruc Talks Amateur Open and K-1 World MAX Finals

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Since the formation of K-1 Global there have been some ups and downs for the K-1 name, but we’ve definitely all come to a consensus that under K-1’s current management they want the best for the brand and for the sport. K-1 is set to continue pushing forward over the next few month with a few events that will look to solidify the brand’s place in the current market for kickboxing. The first is in September in the UK, being touted as an open amateur scouting event. We’ve spoken with Ned Kuruc of K-1 a few times before and he’s spoken about how important they feel that an amateur system is for the future of the sport and this Amateur Open is just further proof of that. The second event is, of course, the K-1 World MAX Finals, where Buakaw Banchamek will compete against Enriko Kehl and other great fights.

We caught up with Ned Kuruc to discuss both of these events as well as the future of K-1. The first thing is that K-1 will be holding an Amateur Open on the 13th and 14th of September in the UK, which has attracted a lot of attention thus far. “As of right now we’ve had 500 inquiries and 50 countries have shown interest. We don’t really have hard numbers on this yet because the deadline is September 2nd. Tons of interest shown already, though.”

How does it play into the future of K-1, though? K-1 has always been the home of the top level of fighters, so it is an interesting turn to shift some of their focus to the future. “There is a bit of a generation gap -- or a generation loss -- and I believe that through the amateur system that it’s the best way to get the K-1 brand associated with kids that are coming up and for all martial arts. K-1 isn’t just about kickboxing, it’s about martial arts and it’s a platform for those involved to test their skills and see who is the best in the world. With that being said, the amatuer system is, what I feel, is the best way to get the brand associated with those up-and-coming fighters and kids who don’t remember K-1 like you or I do.

“Not only is this a good way for us to raise brand awareness across generations right now, but there are a lot of fighters out there who want to test their skills. K-1 is a high, high level, it’s the pinnacle of standup sports. There are amatuer groups out there that already have K-1 rules and make champions in these weight classes. K-1 is okay with that, because it is a sport unto itself. Our brand is its own sport,” he explains. “In the past no one has wanted to venture into amatuer sports. Just like when K-1 was founded, we want this to be an open tournament where we really are able to find the best fighters from across the world to compete under the K-1 banner.”

It’s a point that will ring true for fans of K-1, where the K-1 concept originally started under the premise of pulling all of the best fighters from across the world together under one banner and to have them compete against each other. As with anything else, though, it was a business and building stars became the main focus. So the scene began to only host the top few names year-in and year-out, which was exciting, but may have led to excluding other talents who were coming up through the ranks of amateur and professional leagues but couldn’t break into K-1 because fans in Japan wanted to see the names that they knew and loved.

“We want to give opportunities to the best fighters out there. The old K-1 was a bit of an old boys club where if you didn’t have the right management or the right trainers you’d never get that opportunity to compete in K-1. I’m not saying that it was a bad system,” he adds. “They were the best managers and trainers in the world and they produced some of the best fighters. But now we have Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and all of that with the internet and a fighter can post a video of themselves and send it to us and some doors might open up for him. This Amateur Open is for my team and myself to be able to physically see some of these fighters and get them involved with K-1. It’s a direct feeder system. We’re also willing to work with professional fighters who haven’t had a chance before, if you look at our cards we’ve given a lot of young, up-and-coming talent a chance on a bigger stage. Some have done really well and others haven’t, this is how you can really find the best fighters in the world.”

K-1 understands that their brand, name and rules are important in the world of kickboxing and have been adopted throughout the world. They aren’t looking to strip that away from anyone, because they feel that the sport of K-1 has taken on a life of its own, which they are willing to use to their advantage in promoting the brand of K-1. They look at K-1’s rules and see so many amateur events and championships around the globe that even see a possibility for K-1 to be considered an Olympic sport at some point, although not in the near future. This, looking towards building up a strong amateur feeder system, is a good first step. K-1 wants you to know that they aren’t just a brand, but they are a sport.

K-1 is now focused on Thailand, though, where K-1 will present the very first K-1 event on Thai soil in October. The show is the K-1 World MAX Finals where Buakaw Banchamek and Enriko Kehl will fight for the K-1 World MAX Championship, a title that the winner will wear proudly and defend as K-1 moves away from the yearly tournament format. 

“A lot of things had to fall in place for this to happen,” Ned explains. “First was Buakaw fighting for the championship. It’s a lot more evenly-matched fight than people think that it is, but when the officials from Thailand were talking with us, we understood how important it was to have a star like Buakaw on the card. It would mean a lot to Thai fans to see Buakaw win a K-1 title in Thailand, if he can get by Enriko, that is. We had to be creative in making this show happen. Everyone who works in this sport only tries to work with other people who work within the sport, which isn’t always the right way to do things.

“From what I’ve seen in my time with K-1, they generally aren’t the best business people. When I try to work with people I try to work with people who aren’t just in fighting and promoting. We try to work with entertainment companies and legitimate businesses. The group, people that I’m working with on this show aren’t in the fight game. They are from the business world in Thailand, so I had a different approach and it’s worked. This should be a very, very exciting show.”

The topic of the direction of the sport of kickboxing came up after last week I wrote about a growing movement among fans to err on the side of negativity for the outlook of the sport. “In my opinion, at this certain point, it’s gotten the most exposure that it has. We’re in the age of the internet, which helps. As far as K-1, it’s no secret that we are in a rebuilding phase. That’s my job, to rebuild it. Some people might think that it’s been a slow process or that it’s taken too long, but we’re in a very definite transition phase in kickboxing and the sport of K-1. You have K-1, who is still in the game, but yeah, we are a bit slower. Time will tell how my strategy unfolds. 

“Then you have other organizations, you have GLORY who have been putting a lot of money into their shows. They have a lot of talent, great production, but it’s not much of a business plan. Am I a fan of their product? Absolutely. Would I do things the way that they are doing it? Absolutely not, it just doesn’t seem like it’s a viable business plan that can go on for years. I just wouldn’t do it that way. You have other promotions like Enfusion that are doing a good job, you have SuperKombat, Rise, KRUSH. There are a lot of organizations out there, the problem that I have is that I have a massive brand and that I have to do it properly,” Ned explains. “My ideology is to not keep throwing millions of dollars into a show to generate small revenue. I think that there are a few organizations that are playing monkey-see, monkey-do with the UFC and I don’t think that is the proper way to do things.

“Kickboxing doesn’t sell PPVs. We know that, I feel like we’ve always known that. People have tried, but it just won’t work. That means that you can’t copy the UFC model because they are all about PPV. That’s where their revenue comes from. My idea is that it has to be done in steps, it has to be built, you need a foundation. If you look at the brands that have existed for years and not just a few before going away. That’s how K-1 has existed for so long. I feel that kickboxing is in a good state, generally, I would just hate to see some of the organizations make mistakes and go away. The way I see it, the more the merrier, the more that the sport is built up. It only helps all of us in the long run.”

The K-1 World MAX Finals takes place on October 11th in Pattaya, Thailand and the K-1 Amateur Open takes place on September 13th and 14th in the UK. For more information visit http://www.k-1.tv/

 

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Exclusive Interview with GLORY Fighter Saulo Cavalari

  • Published in Interviews

There are some fighters who gradually work themselves into the hearts of fans with their personality or by demonstrating great skill in the ring. For some this recognition comes after years of hard work. Then there are others that have such a dynamic debut and who also possess such charisma and charm that the press and fans are almost instantly addicted. Saulo Cavalari falls into the latter category. Making his Glory debut in Chicago, October 2013, Cavalari took to the ring with a decision victory over the Belgian Bull, Filip Verlinden. He was just warming up. The following month, Cavalari faced Mourad Bouzidi at Glory 12 at Madison Square Garden where he delivered one of the most brutal knockouts witnessed by Glory fans. If you didn't know his name before Glory 12, surely Cavalari was on the radar of press and fans alike after his brutal knock out of Mourad Bouzidi.

Recently I had to opportunity for a Q & A with Saulo. Here are some of his thoughts about muay thai, his career and his future.

SW: Depending on the source, your professional record is listed as 31-3 or 28-3. What is your actual professional record?

SC: My professional record is 28-3.

SW: Where did you get the nickname "Cassius Clay?"

SC: Cassius Clay was a icon and one of the best fighters of all time. He was always an inspiration for me and that's why people started calling me with that nickname. But I'm Saulo Cavalari and I hope to build my own career, if I get 50% of what Cassius Clay accomplished I'll be very satisfied.

SW: At what age did you begin training?

SC: I was still a 9 years old boy.

SW: How long have you been with Thai Brasil?

SC: Since it was founded in 2007.

SW: Your knockout of Mourad Bouzidi at Glory 12 was one of the most spectacular of 2013, did you expect to knock him out so quickly and with such force?

SC: I always go for the KO and I always fight with aggressive style. I know that the crowd loves it and since when I was very young I knew I'd be a exciting fighter. All punches that I land in a fight have KO power and I was very happy that I could throw it perfectly in the beginning of the fight.

SW: What are some of your goals for 2014?

SC: My goal is to be the GLORY Champion. I wasn't able to pass the semifinals so my main goal in 2014 is to win my next fight whoever the opponent they send me.

SW: Who has been your most difficult opponent to date?

SC: Tyrone Spong. His skills are perfect and he defends himself very well. I remember that I was trying to hit him with my best shots and his defense was very strong and he always counter attacks with precision. He's the best in the world but I know I can beat him.

SW: There's a rumor that you would like to fight Saki. Besides Gokhan is there anyone else you would like to fight?

SC: I'd like to fight whoever wants to fight me. That's my message to the division: if anyone is brave enough to fight a young and hungry lion please call Mr. Cor Hemmers and ask for me: I'll be waiting.

SW: What specifically is your message to Saki???

SC: Saki you are a legend and I'll always respect you but I want this belt, I want to be the champion of GLORY. So as long as I'm alive I'll be hunting this belt.

SW: If you were not involved in muay thai/kickboxing, what kind of profession would you have chosen?

SC: Since the first time I trained I knew that I'd be a fighter. So since 9 years old I'm training to be the world champion - nothing else never crossed my mind.

SW: Who are some fighters that you enjoy watching?

SC: Mike Tyson, Tyrone Spong and Cassius Clay

SW: When you are not training, what are some of your favourite activities?

SC: I like surfing, skateboarding, basketball and being with my friends.

SW: Recently, I spoke with Thom Harinck about training you. What was your experience like training with such a legendary figure?

SC: He is the best trainer I've ever met. He has so much experience and knows everything. I'd like to say that I'd like to be trained by him again.

SW: Your style has been characterized as very aggressive, how would you describe your fighting style?

SC: I'm a aggressive fighter who always looks for the KO. I can win round 1 and 2, I'll never take a rest in the last round. I'm not satisfied if I don't KO my opponents

SW: What do you consider as the most difficult part(s) of a fighter's life?

SC: Sponsorship deals are very hard to find in Brazil.

SW: You have been successful in K-1, Tatneft and WAKO South America and are currently ranked number three in Glory. Once you’ve achieved the number one ranking what else do you see in your future?

SC: I'll try to remain the #1 for as long as possible and show that Brazil is not only a BJJ / MMA country. We also have Kickboxing here.

SW: Do you have any message to your fans?

SC: Thank you for supporting me. I'll ALWAYS go for the KO.

With the year at the 3/4 mark, one can only guess that GLORY still has a few surprises for us. Whether his next match comes this year or next, one thing is certain, Saulo will be ready and will approach his opponent in a manner that is sure to leave us all stunned and wanting more!

 

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Interview with Zsolt Zathureczky

  • Published in Interviews

It's not unheard of that fighters of a specific principle want to try themselves out in a different style. Mirko CroCop, Tyrone Spong, Dustin Jacoby to name a few, have all dipped their feet and crossed the boundaries of their chosen sport. So why would it be any different in other parts of the world?

For many years the 193 cm tall (6'3"), 104 kg (230lbs) physical phenom Zsolt Zathureczky was one of the most sought after fighters in Hungary when it came to MMA shows. Despite his young age (Zsolt will be 26 this December) it was unthinkable to organize an event without him being on the card.

At Age 17 Zsolt hit the gym and chose Team Pit Bull at Soroksár (a district of the capital, Budapest). In two weeks he was competing. And he never stopped since.

His results speak for themselves. Amongst countless MMA, Kempo and even street fighting tournaments he won: 

  • He became the K-3 Hungarian champion in 2009
  • Won the Hungarian K-3 HW title in 2010 and
  • Became the Hungarian HW Muay Thai champion the same year

After some hiatus he recently participated in a well-known tournament series in Hungary, Fight Club's 12th event. The 8 man tournament provided quality production and fights to the fans in K-1, Muay Thai and MMA rulesets. Zsolt beat all three opponents and won the tournament by finishing his last with a powerful bodyshot.

Q: - Hello Zsolt! First of all congrats for winning the 8 man tournament! Apart from this how's 2014 so far?

A: - Thanks, yeah Fight Club 12 was an awesome experience because of many reasons. It was very well organized and I was really happy that I had this opportunity to show my standup game. Because of my history with MMA people usually think that I'm more of a ground fighter. When I accepted the invitation my opponents seemed a bit way to eager to accept it as well...

Q: - Do you think they were looking at you as a heavy underdog?

A: - Well they must've thought that they're going to have a big advantage over me simply because of their background (K-1, Muay Thai) so I think I've managed to suprise them big time when my combinations and knees started to land.

Q: - How do you like K-1 rules by the way? Do you feel comfortable competing under such rules?

A: - I'm missing the clinch. My knees are one of my main weapons and I like to land them from there you know. YOu have to work around it otherwise you get separated quickly.

Q: - Is it safe to say that this was the biggest challenge then in fighting under K-1 rules?

A: - Yeah, I think my first fight was kinda rusty if you know what I mean. The second fight was way better and when the third came I was really feeling it and managed to finish with that body shot. It was a great test for me to see where my striking and cardio at and I was really happy as I felt fresh through the very end.

Q: - So was this your favorite KO maybe?

A: - To be honest this was my first time I managed to get it in a fight but I really liked it. I've caused painful moments with body shots before in sparring but I hope I'll get it again soon in an actual fight.

Q: - How does training look like nowadays?

A: - We put the plan together with my brother, set goals and a strategy which we follow. There are always things we focus on like the things we feel as weak links and we attack those until it gets fixed. He's helping me a lot with getting information, reading up on articles, translating for me and so on. We are truly a team so when I get to the gym I have nothing else on my plate just training.

Q: - What's next for you? DO you have any plans for the remainder of the year?

A: - Yes I have a fight in Germany in the Winter but I'd like some fights in the Fall too. I'm focusing a bit more on opportunities abroad and I'm trying to get as many fights I can.

Q: - You seem to be ready all year round..

A: - I have to. I don't have to be that strict with my diet but still I have to pick things. I need a lot of energy for my training. It's really easy to lose from cardio for example.

Q: - How can you coordinate and put everything together - traveling, training, fighting with your personal life and work?

A: - This is something extra you have to be able to do as a pro athlete. I meet my limits every week, every day and I have to confront them so I can grow beyond them with will and a lot of work. This is a lifestyle for me. Something that I chose. Certainly being a bit ascetic helps but you'll need the right partner as well to support you. Luckily I have all this. Sometimes it is hard but you know how it goes: "victory is reserved for those who are willing to pay it's price".

Many thanks Zsolt! Best of luck with the upcoming fights!

 

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Exclusive Interview with Marco Tentori

  • Published in Interviews

We had a chance to speak with Australian Muay Thai champion and Kung Fu specialist Marco Tentori before his biggest fight to date against "Stone Cold" Steve Moxon. Marco did beat Frankie Giorgi in December of last year, and Giorgi holds a win over Moxon but Moxon has been very active fighting big names. So it will be a tough test, that Tentori is more than willing to take on.

LK: Ok first off lets start with your fight record, height, weight, stance?

MT: Current fight record 26 wins 6 losses(but i dispute some) 8 KO's. Height: 179cm / 5feet 10.5 inches. Weight: middleweight 160lbs/72.5kg, though this is the middleweight class in pro Muay Thai & boxing, it would be closer to the welterweight div for MMA & Glory. Stance: variable. Age - 30

LK: Do you have any nicknames? If so whats the story behind it?

MT: Machine Gun, Alan Pond gave it to me the promoter who put the shows on for which I fought my first few fights (though now he is my coach). He had a habit of giving nicknames when a fighter didn't have one to help with the promotion of shows. He nicknamed me "Machine Gun" due to my high work rate and it stuck

LK: You are in Australia, have you been there your whole life? Trained in any other countries?

MT: Yes I have been here my whole life and only trained and fought in Australia, though keen to get out & fight internationally. Can be difficult to get fights in other countries due to our location.

LK: You have a big fight with Steve Moxon coming up in two and a half weeks, hows training and how are you feeling?

MT: Training is going great! So far one of the best camps I have had. I am feeling as good as ever and feel ready to go right now! Like a hungry wolf being held back on a leash. I can't wait to get in there.

LK: I noticed that you have already beat names like Frankie Giorgi but do you think Moxon will be the biggest test?

MT: Given Moxon's level of competition & activity I would say that he would be the biggest test so far, although Frankie Giorgi did beat Moxon not too long ago. I am not phased by Moxon's reputation or record, I welcome the chance to challenge him.

LK: So, i was told your main fighting style is Kung Fu, what type, what gym do you train at and have you been there from the start of your training?

MT: My background & base is Buk Sing Choy Lay Fut. I started my training in this style at the Chinese Kung Fu & Tai Chi Academy. For my first few fights I trained solely out of this gym & in that style, but since there were no full contact kung fu tournaments here at the time I jumped in & fought muay thai instead. A kung fu guy fighting against muay thai under their rules, not something that happens too often. While I was winning I had some holes in my game so Alan Pond invited me over to spar & do some training in his gym. Since then I have been based out of both gyms, the kung fu school & Alan Ponds gym, splitting training between both.

LK: What age did you start at the Chinese Kung Fu Academy? Also whats the name of Alan Ponds gym?

MT: As a teenager, around 14 years old. Alan's gym is the Midland Martial Arts & Ultimate Fitness Center, formerly the Chinese Boxing Club (his background being western boxing & Kung Fu, off the top of my head he had around 78 fights between boxing & thai boxing)

LK: You said that you don't agree with a few losses, which was the worst and why?

MT: Most of them were very very close. The worst one was when I fought Jason Lea for the Perth Cup in my 13th fight, while Jason had around 36 fights at the time. While I & the crowd felt that I won the fight, one judge had it for me, the other for Jason & the other had it a draw. As there was no provision for an extension round the drawn judge was told to pick a winner & chose Jason so it was awarded to him. Not much of a story there really, though I feel that one of the judges was not completely impartial. Not taking anything away from Jason, he is a top bloke & I respect him a lot he went on to fight on one of the first big Thai Fight tournaments in 2010. I say that I feel that one judge was not impartial, as he also judged the fight I had after that against the New Zealand champion. He had it 50-50 a draw, while the two other judges had me winning every round 50-45, So something not right there.

LK: What titles have you held?

MT: In order: former WPMF super-middleweight & middleweight state titles. WBC Muay thai middleweight national title, ISKA light-middleweight national title, OTBA middleweight national title, WKA south pacific title, WMC middleweight state title - challenging for the WMC national title in October. Again the weight categories are the standard ones for Muay Thai, not the MMA or Glory ones with the same names but different weight categories

LK: Would you say you have a rival at all? If so who and why?

MT: Rivals, none at the moment but I feel that I have unfinished business with those that I had the close losses to.

LK: Okay last one, it's something I ask every fighter,

Hardest puncher you've fought? MT: Pat Doherty

Hardest Kicker you've fought? MT: Ruan DuPlessis

Hardest fight? MT: what aspect of difficulty are you talking here? The hardest fight I had was against Dusan Salva, but it was my hardest as I was stupidly sick for a few days before (and after) the fight, vomiting & bad diarrhea. Was a struggle to eat at all & could not keep much down. I had to try very hard not to shit myself or vomit during the fight. I had to get stitched up after & spewed on the doctor. But hardest fight due to opponent & not circumstances, was probably Ruan DuPlessis.

Favourite Fighter? MT: Roberto Duran

LK: OK thanks a lot Marco, is there anything you feel I've missed and you would like to say, or anything you want to tell your fans and sponsors?

MT: Statement for fans: keep watching as the best is yet to come! I have called out the WMC champion Mike 300 and will be taking him on in October after Steve Moxon. Once I am through with them I will be looking for something even bigger. 

I would also like to thank my sponsor WMD Fight Gear.

There is probably more I would like to cover but its 1:30am and having trouble thinking of topics at the moment. It will likely come to me when I try to fall asleep..... haha

LK: Thanks again Marco and keep training hard, we will be looking forward to hearing about your next wins.

 

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‘Hope for the best and prepare for the worst’ - An exclusive interview with Hungary's 22 years old Patrik "Titan" Vidákovics

  • Published in Interviews

K-1, Muay Thai, kickboxing, Low-Kick, Light-Contact - whatever comes the -75kg Patrik takes it. And the results speak for themselves - Multiple times National and European cup winner, European champion,  World cup 3rd place, 2x world champion, Professional K-1 Hungarian Champion, Professional K-1 Intercontinental Champion. But how did the story beging for the young Titan?

As Patrik was walking down the streets of Baja, - a city in Bács-Kiskun County, southern Hungary -, in 2008, at age 16 he noticed a poster about upcoming kickboxing classes. He went to check out the training of renowned trainer András Mezőfi and fell in love with the sport immediately. Seven years have passed and Patrik is just as passionate as ever. Despite the success he remained a down to earth guy thankful to his coach, team and to the sport for everything it brought him.

He's grateful for the transformation the sport made him go through. To his own admission kickboxing has made him turn his life around as he was really shy and insecure as a boy.

"My mother has never would've thought that I'll ever try my hands at something like this" - said Patrik. Since he started he has not only managed to get two world titles, won pro championships but grew a lot physically and mentally, as a person.

Patrik is a total fanatic when it comes to training and he credits all his success to the hard work, perseverance he put in throughout the years at Kick-Thai-Boxing Team Baja. Due to this mentality and being ready all year round he managed to capture the K-1 Intercontinental belt last November in Berlin in a clash what started as an exhibition fight.

"I traveled to Berlin as a wingman really for the Hungarian team. The event had multiple championship, world championship and intercontinental championship fights and when I've arrived the organizers asked me if I could jump in for an exhibition fight. A few hours passed when it surfaced that the winner can bring the Intercontinental Championship belt  home. I was fighting a weight class above my natural -75kg (~165lbs) and after five rounds of war I managed to get the belt."

Q- How does your training look like nowadays?

A- We focus a lot on functional training with my coach András Mezőfi to get me in the best shape possible and I have a schedule for every day of the week. We train striking and the kicks separately and then we sync them and bring everything together. There's a lot of emphasis on cardio, S&C. In an actual training camp when I prepare for a fight I traing twice a day - in the a.m and late in the afternoon.

Q- Tell us about your next fight!

A- My next one will be in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 15 Aug at an event called No Limit 7. my opponent will be a dangerous 27 year old local fighter, 86kg (~189lbs), 185cm (6'1") Mesud Selimovic. He has won several international cups, and became Balkan kickboxing vice-champion in 2011. We were studying some tape and found some weaknesses. He's a smart, disciplined fighter setting up his attacks nicely. I'll have to watch out and will put some extra time in when training cardio. I think it can be a deciding factor because of the weight difference.

Q- I know that fighters in general don't like to think ahead than their next fight but what are your plans for the remainder of the year and for the near future?

A- I'm not looking past my opponent by any means but I want to capture my 3rd K-1 world championship in October and after that get the European championship belt too at the event organized by Kick-Thai-Boxing Team Baja.

Thanks for the interview and best of luck Titan!

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Sharing a Six-Pack with Justin Greskiewicz

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8/1/14, Mashantucket Reservation, CT - The night before a fight can be a weird time for a fighter.  Some go into seclusion, turning off their phones and locking themselves in a room.  Some go out to a big dinner with the team or friends and family.  Some just eat, watch movies, visualize and pass out, or try to.  I was lucky enough to catch Justin Greskiewicz, the Purple People Eater, the night before the biggest match-up of his professional Muay Thai career, Malaipet Sasiprapa in the Lion Fight 17 show at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.  

Not wanting to take up too much of his time, especially while he was eating, we shared a quick six questions, and then I let him get back to it:

Okay, the weigh-ins over, the hard work is done, time to eat rest, relax and get ready to have some fun tomorrow... if you have the time it'd be great if you can answer these any way you see fit.

The Arbiter: What makes tomorrow's match-up different or more challenging than previous fight? Do you think it's your toughest?

Justin Greskiewicz: This fight is definitely going to be tough. He keeps talking about how hard he trained and that we're gonna see the old Malaipet again. That will make my victory that much sweeter. This will be one of my toughest fights to date for sure.

T.A.: What are some challenges that you faced in training and teaching/running Stay Fly at the same time?

JG: Training hard for a fight is difficult with my own business to run. I'm pretty much the Lone Ranger running stuff there. Also, I don't really have a coach, but lots of people have helped me out along the way for this fight and so many people have stepped up so I could train hard.

T.A.: How has your training differed from prior fights? Any new wrinkles?

JG: I trained hard for this fight. My last 2 fights I had a tough time finding training, but I still did very well. For this fight, I had the help I needed to get ready to do it.

T.A.: What are the weaknesses in your opponent’s game that you think you can exploit?

JG: Malaipet's biggest weakness has been his conditioning, recently. I think I can exploit that if I really push the pace of the fight. Also, his boxing is not really great, he looks for one big shot at a time, and I'll be looking to take advantage of that.

T.A.: Which part of your game or personality would you say is your most reliable or central to victory tomorrow?

JG: My biggest ally in this fight is my will to win. A win here at Lion Fight would be great for my career, especially against one of the best in the game. I want it bad, and tomorrow I'm gonna take it.

T.A.: And lastly, are there any special combos or techniques we should watch for? Old favorites, new experimental stuff? 

J.G.: I will be looking to mix it up a lot in there tomorrow. You might see a fancy technique or two thrown in, which isn't normally the style that I fight. It should be exciting.

T.A.: Thanks for your time brother, I'll let you get back to your visualizations or Tekken or watching Dolomite, whatever your routine is.

J.G.: Ha-ha! Thanks still stuffing my face…

T.A.: Enjoy, asta manana!

J.G.: Werd up!

T.A.: Thanks again for taking time to answer even a couple if these. Best of health and luck tomorrow, CHOK DEE, BROTHER!!!!

Justin will be fighting Thai Champion Malaipet Sasiprapa tonight as the main event of Lion Fight 17 from the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Casino and Resort tonight.  If you can’t be there live you can catch it on AXS TV, starting at 7:00pm.

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A Few Questions With Glory Middleweight Israel "The Last Style Bender" Adesanya

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Earlier this week we were lucky enough to get to chat with Israel Adesanya and ask few questions before his King in The Ring 8 man tournament in Auckland, NZ on August 30th. Israel is the first fighter from New Zealand to sign with Glory and is the current WKBF Cruiser & Light Heavyweight, IKBF Cruiserweight and WMC Oceania Cruiserweight Champion.

LK: Hi Israel, first of all tell us your fight stats, height, weight, record, etc?

IA: Fight record is 34 wins/ 2 losses/ 0 draws/ 16kos, Height: 190cm/6'3", Weight: 84kg/185lbs, Stance: Orthodox, Age: 25yrs old.

LK: What nickname do u go by? I've heard Style bender?

IA: The last Style Bender. Lol big fan of cartoons, 1 of my faves being the Avatar series. Love the story behind it and the idea of me being the last of my kind, so I have to master all the elements of fighting to realize my destiny as the Avatar.

LK: You have an 8 man tournament coming up Aug 30 in Auckland, hows training going, how are you feeling?

IA: Yup for King in the Ring. I'm feeling great man, all I do is train eat sleep and repeat. I could fight tomorrow that's how ready I am.

LK: Do you know any of the other opponents? Who do you think is the best man in the tournament after you of course?

IA: Yup a lot of the guys in the tournament are friends of mine. We've traveled and trained together for years. But it makes no difference, I've had fights with my brothers and sister growing up. I'd fight anyone! I'd fight my grandma even...but she's dead. Makes no difference who has the bad luck to face me that night, I'll pull no punches and I expect them to come at me. I'm not the defending King in the Ring champ, but I know these boys all wanna beat up the Glory fighter. So that keeps me sharp.

LK: What do you think of the 8 man tournament format? Do you like it better than a single fight?

IA: I like the spectacle of it. 7 men will fall and 1 will rise, it's so throwback. But I prefer to have a single fight for the most part. 8 man tournaments are taxing on the body. I won my 1st 1 in 2010 for the IKBF 8man.

LK: You train at City Kickboxing, is that where you first started training? How's the attitude/ atmosphere/sparring partners?

IA: I started in TKD as a kid. Stopped for almost or over 10 years then training in Wanganui New Zealand with Derek Broughton. Then decided to move to the big smoke of Auckland city after visiting City Kickboxing on a road trip. One of the best decisions to train at City Kickboxing with Eugene Bareman and Doug Viney.

LK: I have to ask about your fight with Simon Marcus, how did you feel about that decision?

IA: Man, I know, the people know, and Simon knows he didn't win that fight. He hit me with 2 clean punches the whole fight, I rocked him twice and he wanted cuddles, I bent around all his strike attempts and hit him clean more times in the fight while doing the moonwalk. He'll get this work soon...hopefully on the Glory stage so the world can witness!

LK: How did you find the experience of your first Glory fight?

IA: It was awesome! Turkey was dope. I wasn't nervous at all cuz in China I did 15000 seat shows, so this was nothing. I should have embraced the nerves a bit and stayed true to my style rather than charge him in the opening round. But Verlinden used strong basics and years of experience to keep me at gear to and steal momentum, I respect that... but he still couldn't break me and I know without a doubt I can beat him.

LK: Any talks with Glory about about your next fight?

IA: Yup, classified at the moment. But it's coming soon and I can't wait to make my USA debut. The world gon' luuuurn haha!

LK: What got you into kickboxing in the first place? How old were you? Did you ever imagine you would be at this level?

IA: I was 17, I saw the movie Ong Bak and months after started training Muay Thai. Had my 1st novice fight within 6 weeks and my 2nd fight ever was full thai rules (and won). After UFC 90 witnessing the way Anderson Silva beat Coté, I had the misconception of fighters/ action heroes movies and media put on us shattered. Soon after I made the decision to be the best in the world and I moved to Auckland.

LK: Last question is something I like to ask every great fighter

Hardest puncher you've fought? IA: I don't take many shots in fights, but Doug Viney spars like a mad man and had hit me full clip a full times and I still stand.

Hardest Kicker you've fought? IA: Jamie Eades in a novice fight in 2008/2009. He made me realize to check leg kicks, but I returned the favour years later in a full Thai fight and had him limping with a gangsta lean.

Hardest fight? IA: Still waiting...

Favourite Fighter? IA: Anderson Silva, Mohammed Ali, Prince Naseem, Roy Jones jr, Rickson Gracie, Conor McGregor, Nick Diaz...etc the list can go on. I'm a fan of combat sports

LK: Thanks a lot for your time Israel, is there anything more you would like to say to your fans, sponsors etc?

IA: Just wanna thank those that have followed and believed in me through all this, my training partners, my sponsors Bow Fighters, FX Nutrition, Combat Kings, Stained Skin Tattoos. Stay tuned for this man, just getting started.

LK: Once again thank you, good luck on your upcoming fight, not that you need it.

 

 

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Iman Barlow on Enfusion Win, Her Start in Martial Arts and More

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Iman Barlow is somewhat of a phenom in Women’s Muay Thai. The 21-year old from Melton Mowbray, UK, defended her 54kg Women’s Enfusion world title this past weekend with a decisive victory over challenger Iman Ghablou.

JS: So first off Miss Barlow, congratulations on another dominant victory this past weekend, how did you evaluate your own performance and what was your game plan coming into the bout?

IB: The fight went well, I thought I won every round convincingly. After the first round I felt in control and from there I just enjoyed the fight and was sampling different techniques. We (My Dad and I) knew Iman Ghablou was a good boxer so our plan was to utilize the teep a lot but apart from that was just to go out there and bring my title back home to England.

JS: It's interesting that you mention your usage of the teep as that was something I was going to ask you about. The vast majority of strikers look to utilize the teep to the body, in this bout you looked to throw it regularly to the chin of Ghablou. Is this a technique you specifically drilled for this opponent or is it a move we can expect to see from you more often?

IB: Yes, I looked to throw it but then I saw she was open a lot for straight shots, like down the middle with teeps and straight punches. I saw the gaps and went for them but also I heard my Dad in my corner and he had also seen the gaps.

JS: It was a fairly one-sided affair and was your seventh appearance with the Enfusion promotion. Are there any current fighters on the Enfusion roster or outside the organization, which you would like to fight next? 

IB: Haha it was actually my 8th bout! Not really I am happy where I am at the moment, Enfusion have given me the opportunity of a lifetime to travel around the world doing what I love. I don't really like to call fighters out but all I will say is that I will fight the best to become the best slowly but surely. -54kg is dangerous division with me in for many years to come.

JS: You've already travelled to various different locations throughout your career, are there any other countries you wish to compete in?

IB: Yes I've seen some amazing places and the best thing about the whole experience is the people you meet along the way, I have friends from this sport all around the world it's amazing! Of course I've always said I'd love to fight in America that's my number one choice. Australia would also be pretty cool. 

JS: I've read previously online that you were introduced to martial arts at the age of 2! Could you give us a brief insight on your introduction and the martial arts you have trained?

IB: Yes my Dad Mark Barlow and my Mum Maxine Adams run Assassins Muay Thai gym so when I was little I used to go and sit down while they used to teach and I started to join in when I was around 2 and a half. I used to hit the bag and the fighters used to mess around with me and take me on the pads. I had my first fight when I was 4. I've always been into Muay Thai and it's all I have ever known, I’ve struggled to get fights sometimes when I was younger so I have done a few kickboxing and K-1 rules fights to keep busy. 

JS: Have you ever trained in other disciplines or would consider making the switch over to MMA?

IB: I've trained in Boxing before and a little bit of Judo. Apart from that I once had a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lesson with a friend but I don't think it's for me I much prefer to be a stand up fighter. I can't see myself going into MMA but I'd never rule it out. 

JS: Last but not least, your hometown of Melton Mowbray is renowned for it’s pork pies and Stilton cheese. Now your fight is out the way, will you be indulging in either or do you have another post-fight snack of preference?

IB: Haha it sure is. They’re definitely not on my list of favorites to indulge in; my problem is that I love food of all kinds. I love pad thai and also a good Nandos after a fight makes me happy, I also drink a lot of tea so it's nice to drink that after a fight also. I'm not indulging too much as my next fight will be on Enfusion’s reality show victory The Vixen in September and to win you have to have four fights in the space of about 5 days so I'll have a few days off and get back into training for that; sixteen women and only one winner. It's going be one of the hardest things I’ll go through but that will make it even more rewarding when I win.

JS: Best of luck with your fights in September and thank you very much for your time Iman, is there anything else you wish to say, anyone to thank?

JB: Yes, I'd like to first thank my family for always being a great support system and for helping me follow my dreams, all of Enfusion family, Vinny Shoreman and my sponsors Gold standard nutrition, Fairtex UK, Booost oxygen, Dirty 3rd Clothing and thank you to everyone for their continued support and messages, they always means a lot.

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Melvin Manhoef Pre-GLORY Last Man Standing Interview

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(C) Esther Linn/MMAFighting.com

They call him “No Mercy” and that is exactly what you will get in the ring.  Melvin Manhoef, a man whose professional career has spanned nearly two decades takes the stage at Glory’s inaugural PPV event, The Last Man Standing on Saturday, June 21, 2014 at The Forum.  Since 1995, Melvin Manhoef has delivered brutal blows in both MMA and kickboxing also showing the world that he is dangerous in nearly every weight class.  Who has he fought? A better question probably would be who hasn’t he fought?  In the kickboxing ring he has faced the likes of Spong, Bonjasky, Leko, Karaev and Slowinksi.  Although in all of these match-ups he has not been the victor, one thing is certain, a match involving Melvin promises to bring heavy hits and hardcore action.  It is well and widely known that Manhoef is a knockout artist and does it very well.  For those who know Melvin Manhoef, they are well aware that he is dangerous from all angles, having brutalized his opponents with left hooks, right hooks and knees.  He is legend.  In anticipation of his debut with Glory I had the opportunity to talk to Melvin about his past, present and his vision for the future. 

SW: Melvin, you made it here to Glory and this very exciting event.  How do you feel?

MM: I think I am ready.  I had very good training and I am prepared.

SW: Is there anyone in particular that you would like to fight?

MM: No, I’m a fighter and I will fight whoever they put in front of me.  All of the guys are dangerous in the tournament but I feel prepared to fight any of them. 

SW: You are known for having a very aggressive style and have had some brutal knockouts in kickboxing and MMA. Do you have any prediction about how your fight with Verlindin will end?

MM: I like the knock out, but we will just see, but of course I like the knockout!  My goal is to be the champion. 

SW: For your training, you were training at Mike’s Gym or somewhere else?

MM: Well I train at Mike’s Gym sometimes but I also have my own gym.

SW: Many fighters have their own gym is this your eventual plan to do as maybe you move away from fighting in the ring, spending more time as a coach?

MM: Well I do that now in my gym and I won’t be fighting until the point that I can’t see.  Right now, I feel good and don’t think it’s any problem for me to fight. No injuries right now, so I’m ready. 

SW: Kickboxing or MMA, which do you prefer?

MM: I have a lot of experience in both.  With kickboxing, it’s very fast and there’s a lot of action.  I like MMA too, it’s just a different style of fighting.

SW: Glory is doing some very exciting things, revitalizing kickboxing in America. 

MM: Yes, and I am happy to be a part of this.  I thank Glory for having me at this event, it is very big.  June 21st will be very good for the fans.

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Talking With Al Wichgers Glory Referee

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Safety, fairness and entertainment are the primary goals of Glory referee, Al Wichgers. A thirty-seven year veteran this is a man who has seen nearly everything and made the calls that people sometimes love to hate. In anticipation of Glory 17 and The Last Man Standing event, I had the pleasure of talking to Al about his career as well as about kickboxing in the United States. Currently a referee at Glory, Al has also, over the course of his career, been the man in the middle for K-1 the UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator. His knowledge of combat sports is not unfounded as he also has spent time facing off against other fighters as a boxer as well as being a practitioner of martial arts. When asked what is the key to being a good referee he cites his mantra of striving to ensure safety for the fighters as well as making sure the fight is fair and at the same time entertaining. Al also cites that knowing the fighters is a critical element in determining when a fight should be stopped. It’s a much more difficult situation being the referee with fighters you don’t know. Knowing the fighter’s limits and how they react to a punch makes the difference between ending it early or letting the fight continue. When asked about his favorite fight, he cites a K-1 bout between Hong Man Choi and Sylvester Terkay as particularly amusing if for no other reason than the sheer amazement at the size of Choi (2.18m) and the possible dilemma of how he would go about stopping such a large fighter.

His response to the inevitable criticism that comes from fans and the fight community when it comes to fight stoppages, is that it’s all about perspective. Being inside the ring and understanding the figher’s body language is what often makes the difference. It is a completely different experience viewing the fight in the arena or on television. Those vantage points don’t allow an observer to pick up on many of the cues that indicate when a fighter has had enough. Thirty-seven years of experience doesn’t hurt either. On maintaining professionalism in the ring, Al states that it’s his job and that’s the way he handles it, he also emphasizes the importance of being objective. Surprisingly enough with the amount of adrenaline pump during fights Al states that his relationships with the fighters all over the world have been relatively peaceful with some fighters even thanking him afterward for stopping the fight.

Having experience with boxing, kickboxing and MMA, Al expresses a particular love for kickboxing with its fast pace and non-stop action. Finally we spoke about whether Glory will succeed in their mission to repopularize kickboxing in the United States. On this subject he reveals optimism, having been around since the heyday of K-1, but acknowledges that efforts to interest the public in anything new is often a hard sell. Al, however appears to be in it for the long haul and the combat sports community should feel grateful to have him in their ranks.  

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For Joe Schilling Last Man Standing is About His Legacy

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This weekend at GLORY Last Man Standing Joe Schilling has a date with a second GLORY tournament. The first one was a victory for Schilling at GLORY 10, putting him atop of the heap of GLORY’s stacked Middleweight division. At least for that night. We can easily say that GLORY 10 was a great night for Schilling, but GLORY 12 was not a great night for Schilling, although he’ll be the first one to tell you that it wasn’t his best night.

Heading into GLORY’s Last Man Standing tournament Joe is faced with three past opponents in Wayne Barrett, Artem Levin and Simon Marcus, each of which are involved in the tournament in different parts of the bracket, with there being a chance of him meeting each one on Saturday if things turn out that way. Revenge doesn’t seem to be on the mind of Schilling this time, though, nor does calling out a round for a knockout. Instead, he seems refocused.

At Last Man Standing Joe Schilling’s night starts off with not only a rematch, but a third meeting with an old adversary in Simon Marcus, but that is the furthest thing from his mind right now; “You know, everyone is asking me about rematches, they are all really excited about that. I guess there is more of an emotional connection to the previous fights than even I do. Rematch with Simon, rematch with Barrett, rematch with Levin, and I’m not thinking about that at all. It doesn’t even cross my mind, I’m a different fighter and I don’t expect them to be the same fighter. I’m really just focused on winning the tournament.

“Gotta go through Simon Marcus first, then I gotta go through Barrett, but if it’s Barrett I’ll beat Barrett, if it’s Stoica then I’ll be Stoica. Who even knows who comes through that other bracket. It’s crazy. I’m really focused I’m being the best Joe Schilling that I can be that night. I’ve made some changes in my game, in my lifestyle and the mental side of it. I feel like I’ll really be able to express what I’m capable of on the 21st. I’m really excited to show everybody what I’m capable of, but also show myself what I’m capable of. The rematches, though? They really mean nothing to me. At the end of the night, when I’m holding my belt, I’ll probably be laughing like, ‘Oh I knocked out Simon,’ but it’s not what I’m focused on right now.”

GLORY 12 was a tough night for Joe, but it wasn’t the first time that he’s had to face a loss in his career. “Yeah, when I lose a fight I really get very internal; why I lost the fight, what I was thinking, what I was doing. There are a lot of mistakes that I’ve been making for a long time in my career, stylistically, and we’ve really been focused on changing those things. The sparring has worked out really well and I’m really excited about it. After the Eddie Walker knockout I came back stronger, after I lost to Simon the second time I had to go to Thailand to fight Karapet on short notice, so I really look at my losses as big chunks of experience.

“I mean, look at the records of some of these other guys in the tournament. Sure, I have a much bigger record than Wayne Barrett, but for the most part I have less than everybody else in the tournament. Any and all experience that I can get I gotta take advantage of, but these losses are big for me, they are learning experiences. I’m humbled by my losses and it forces me to take a good look at me and it’s a good thing for my career.”

This brought about the topic of pressure and what kind of pressure that Joe feels going into this tournament. If you remember going into GLORY 10 Joe felt that he had to win the tournament to make a statement about Americans in Kickboxing, but now he sees more and more fighters from America stepping up and this is more about himself and his legacy. Joe is looking for not only a win, but a legacy like that of some of Kickboxing’s legends with back-to-back tournament wins.

“I’ve always put so much pressure on myself that I don’t really see other people’s pressure. I hold myself to a very high standard. In the past I’ve said stuff like, ‘well I’m gonna knock him out in this round’ and put even more pressure on myself, but for me there’s a ton of pressure on this fight for myself. I want to prove and really cement my legacy in Kickboxing. It means the world to me that I was the first American to win a global combat sports tournament like this and it’s really important for me to do it twice in a row. I want to go down in history with like Peter Aerts and Semmy Schilt, that’s the pressure that I feel. I don’t want to be in the back shaking my head and apologizing like I was after the Barrett fight and I have 100% myself to blame for that. I took him too lightly and I just,” Joe paused for a few seconds, searching for the right words. “I screwed up. I didn’t fight my fight, that wasn’t the best Joe Schilling.

“That won’t happen again,” he added, in regards to his frustrations in the fight with Barrett. “I was in there and I was frustrated, not even with Wayne, but I was frustrated with myself. Things picked up in the third round but even then it was sloppy, it was careless, it wasn’t me. So there is a ton of pressure for me not to do that again in this fight, but I feel like with the changes we’ve made there’s no chance of that happening again. There’s a lot less pressure knowing that I’m fighting the best fighters in the world. No one has ever watched a K-1 World Grand Prix and thought, ‘well that guy sucks.’ Everybody in there belongs in there, seven of us, the best Middleweights in the world, are gonna lose on Saturday. It’s gonna be a tough night, I’m not gonna be dancing afterwards. I have the utmost respect for all of the guys in the tournament, but it’s gonna be my night. It’s in my home city in front of my family and my friends, it’s gonna be epic.”

It’s also interesting to note that Schilling does have the homefield advantage going into this tournament, something that he had for the GLORY 10 Middleweight tournament as well. It was something that he was missing at GLORY 12 when he fought Wayne Barrett in New York, though; “Yeah, you know, I walked out and was getting booed. It’s happened twice in my career and both times it’s taken me out of my game. Actually, both times it was on the East coast, maybe I need to not fight on the East coast anymore?” He joked. “But for sure, I’m a lot more comfortable when I fight at home. No one wants to lose in front of their friends.”

So for Joe Schilling at GLORY Last Man Standing there isn’t revenge on his mind, instead it’s his legacy and taking his place as one of the greats in Kickboxing by winning consecutive tournaments. It is without a doubt a tall order considering the talent involved, but Schilling seems just as excited to watch the fights at Last Man Standing and GLORY 17 as he is to compete. He’s a kickboxing fan first and a fighter second and it’s very clear that this Joe Schilling is humbled and mentally prepared for what is before him.

Will it be his night again? Tune in on Saturday night at 10pm Eastern time on PPV for GLORY Last Man Standing, immediately following GLORY 17 on Spike TV at 8pm Eastern time. For more information, head to http://www.gloryppv.com

 

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Joseph Valtellini Talks Career Growth and Learning From Losses

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Over the past few weeks I’ve been noticing a trend, this trend is that while GLORY’s fighters are popular and all have their own followings, there has been one fighter that has seemed to move a bit beyond just the Kickboxing fan bubble, that fighter is Joseph Valtellini. His last fight was in December in the GLORY 13 Welterweight Tournament where he fought an amazing fight against Nieky Holzken, a fight that was almost across the board voted as the fight of the year for last year. So it should be considered surprising that he hasn’t fought in six months now yet I’m seeing his name everywhere. 

Then again, it’s not that surprising, considering the man himself. Valtellini comes from humble beginnings, there were no high hopes of a nation pinned upon his shoulders, he wasn’t being trained by world renowned Dutch trainers and when he made his GLORY debut at GLORY 6 he was well-buried in the undercard. He was just a kid from Canada who had built up a decent following for himself in New York, then he stopped the warhorse that is Murat Direkci, which wasn’t something that many saw coming. 

It’s been two years since that happened, with the Kickboxing world taking notice of Valtellini and while he has done his best to keep his life “normal,” it’s clear that things are trending upwards. “It’s been crazy. Well, I still have my full-time job teaching, then I come home quickly, then I have 4-5 to kind of make my dinner, pack for training, head for training at 5.Tonight I actually have one of the local newspapers is coming to my training at 5, then I have a local TV network that I have to head to, I’m getting on the local news tonight at 8, then tomorrow I’ll have to do it all over again. It’s crazy, you know?”

Valtellini is at the point in his career where things are taking off for him, but he thrives on being busy sometimes and wouldn’t know what to do without it. Over the past few months he’s been getting more and more attention after his fight with Holzken, including being flown down to Miami to appear as a guest trainer on the reality television series Combates America. Joe is in demand.

With the biggest fight of his career upon him, though, Joe knows that his popularity and fanbase helps him to get to where he is; “I’m very thankful to the people on social media because when that Marc de Bonte/Karapetyan fight was going on people were tweeting that, you know, I was the one that deserved that spot and so forth. I really have to thank people for being educated on the sport and for believing that I’m worthy of that title.

“It is absolutely where I belong, though,” he is quick to add. “Whether or not Holzken is in the equation, that is a fight that we’ll see again I’m sure and I’ve learned so much since that fight and from that fight, but no matter it being Holzken or De Bonte with that title, this is where I belong right now and I’m going to win that title.”

The Holzken fight has done a lot for Joe’s career, as he can probably attest to for being so busy, even though it was a loss. “Even though it was a loss everyone saw that I was willing to put it all on the line and that my drive and will to win is number one. Also, if you put on an exciting fight, it’s a sport that I love so much that I feel that I want that sport to grow -- especially in North America -- the more GLORY grows the more that I grow. I want for people when they turn the TV on instead of seeing Mixed Martial Arts there to be Kickboxing and GLORY on TV. So yeah, I’m very motivated, this is an exciting time in my career and for Kickboxing. 

“Spike TV has been huge for us Kickboxers across the world because it’s given us the opportunity to be seen. Now there is PPV on top of Spike TV, things are growing and people are jumping on board,” he laughs. “I’m very active on my social media, I like to interact with my fans and supporters so they back me, support me and it fuels me. On June 21st that will be part of what pushes me to the title.”

His last fight may have been in December, but he’s spent the entire time between then and now building himself up and learning more; “I was in the gym the next week after the Holzken fight, doing strength and conditioning, I’ve actually started Boxing a little bit more and working with other Boxers from Canada. I’ve been adding different dimensions to my game. I’ve been looking at my career as a journey, because as a Martial Artist your journey never ends and no matter where I am I will want to learn. No matter what I want to keep improving, keep learning and always be the best. I think that people are going to see a more complete fighter that came out of that fight learning a lot.”

As for if the downtime will affect him; “Nah, it was the right amount of time. I had a very active 2013. It was nice to go to the gym when you don’t have to worry about fighting or weight cutting. That’s the time when you actually do your homework, your studying. It’s like preparing, sharpening yourself. Putting your bag work in, sparring, always learning, adapting and trying new things. I think that time off has put me in a great place and this weight cut has been the best that I’ve ever had. This time off has been great for me, letting me heal, learn, prepare smarter. I’m ready.” 

On June 21st Joe Valtellini will get his shot at greatness at GLORY Last Man Standing on PPV where he’ll fight Marc de Bonte for the GLORY Welterweight Championship. For more information on GLORY Last Man Standing check http://www.gloryppv.com

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Nine Questions with Remy Bonjasky

  • Published in Interviews

He is known as "The Flying Gentleman". With a career spanning nearly twenty years, this three time K-1 champion is one of the most well known fighters in the world.. Having recently retired, I caught up with Remy in Istanbul to talk about his past, present and future. In many ways, March 08, 2014, marked the end of an era as Remy announced his final fight would be at Glory 14 in Croatia against Mirko"Cro Cop" Filipovic. True to his reputation as a gentleman and a great sportsman, Remy's exit from the ring was as graceful as his entrance when he defeated the elder Overeem brother, Valentijn in 1995.

SW: Now that "The Flying Gentleman" has landed what are your plans?

RB: Well I have several projects I'm working on, including opening up my second gym. I also am working with several fighters training and there's also doing seminars and other projects. It's not really like a retirement. I will still be very busy.

SW: I know you have your own gym, Bonjasky Academy. Who are you currently working with?

RB: Well, right now, probably my most notable student is Danyo Ilunga. There are some others I am training but Danyo is probably the most well known at this time.

SW: If you weren't training or hadn't become a kickboxer, what other profession do you think you would have pursued?

RB: I probably would have continued my career in banking.

SW: I find it exciting that Glory has revitalized interest in kickboxing in the United States. What are you thoughts on the future of kickboxing, in the States and abroad?

RB: I am very pleased with the organization, its very professional, good shows. I think more interest is definitely showing. It's going to get bigger and bigger. The fights are exciting with lots of knock outs. It's growing.

SW: This is not the first time you have stepped away from kickboxing, I know at one time you were having a problem with one of your eyes. What was the nature of your injury?

RB: It was because I had a detached retina.

SW: After you defeated Mirko in Croatia, there was a weird response in the crowd, what was your take on that?

RB: I don't know. It was a very emotional event, not just for me. It's something that never happened in my career before, but I don't believe they were really booing me, it was about the result. I love the people of Zagreb and they have always shown me a lot of love. I don't know what can you say. I am still very happy that I was able to show my skill and win.

SW: I have always wondered what you were really thinking after your incident with Badr Hari at the 2008 K-1 finals.

RB: *shrugs* Badr. You know he did what he did and as a result the fight had that outcome.

SW: I'm sure you're weren't mad about the prize.

RB: Not at all.

SW: What is something about you, perhaps a little known fact, that your fans might find surprising?

RB: I'm afraid of spiders.

So, it would seem that retirement won't exactly be sipping Pina Coladas on the Riviera for Remy. He already has great plans for the future, including, but not limited to continuing to grow the sport as a trainer and mentor to today's rising stars. We wish Remy the best of luck and look forward to seeing him ringside.

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Jarrell Miller on Cro Cop: "I'm Gonna Knock His Head Off"

  • Published in Interviews

The biggest bummer in Kickboxing over the past few years was when Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller stopped fighting in Kickboxing after the controversial loss to Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic in 2013. There was no big announcement, no big farewell, Jarrell just went back to focusing on what he does best; Boxing. Jarrell is big, he’s fast and he hits hard, which is incredibly valuable in the Boxing ring, but he also has that one extra thing that will make him a star; Jarrell Miller can talk.

So when I saw a message earlier today from Jarrell asking if I could talk for a bit, I knew what I was in for. We ran a series of interviews with Jarrell leading up to his K-1 debut in 2012 and ran a few more around the time of his fight with Cro Cop and there is one thing that we know for certain; Jarrell is a firecracker. Much in the way that Joe Schilling always talks and people listen, Jarrell has the same gift. When we were talking I found myself smiling or laughing more often than not. Why? Because everything that comes out of Jarrell’s mouth is honest, it’s real and it’s all gold.

In fact, I’ve bugged Jarrell a few times over the past year to feel him out if he’d think about returning to Kickboxing. It was always the same thing; if the timing and the money are right. So when he was heading into his last fight on May 15th against Joshua Harris there was already an offer on the table for Jarrell to return to Kickboxing to fight Cro Cop. “The motivation just hasn’t been there to fight Kickboxing again,” he explained. The Cro Cop fight was his biggest fight to date and for many they believed that he won, only for the Croatian judges to come out and talk about them enforcing their own rules about “holding” while ignoring Cro Cop’s headbutts.

Nobody can blame Jarrell for not being excited about Kickboxing anymore, not with his Boxing career taking off. We can’t tell you what kind of stuff that he’s been working on in Boxing, but it’s potentially huge for him. If you’ve heard him talk and seen him fight you know that this guy could be a star, what’s worse for those holding the money is that he knows it. So when Jarrell found himself sitting in the club after his round two TKO win over Harriss, it dawned on him, “Man, I gotta fight Cro Cop. This has to happen.”

That’s when the talks got serious and when Jarrell realized that this was going to happen again. “If there was going to be one thing to motivate me to come back to Kickboxing, it was going to be Cro Cop,” he stated. “Now I’ve got the chance to do that, and you know what? Main event on Spike TV. The timing is right, the money is right, the deal was right. The timing couldn’t be any more perfect. I’m at 89% right now already, after a few more weeks of training? Ha!” 

The motivation to Kickbox might not have been there for him over the past few years, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been watching. In fact, he’s acutely aware of what to expect from Mirko Cro Cop on June 21st. “Are you kidding? He’s throwing what, like 40 punches a round and like five kicks? C’mon, man. I’m over here in training throwing 200 strikes a round and kicks? Forget about it, I’m going to kick him and he’s not going to know what hit him! I’m going to knock his head off! He’s slow.”

Although, he is willing to give Cro Cop his due. “You know, I thought that he beat Bonjasky. With Bonjasky, I saw that fight with Braddock Silva and he was getting beaten up, so then GLORY gives him a big sendoff, but they did it in the wrong place against the wrong guy. I thought that Cro Cop won that fight, you know? That’s why I can’t let it go to the judges again.”

For now Jarrell is just committed to this one fight with GLORY, but he seems open to the idea of more if the timing and money are right. One would have to think that it all depends on how this fight with Mirko goes, but it’s clear that GLORY sees him as a valuable name to bring in on short notice like this. 

 

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The Humanity Behind the Gods of War

  • Published in Interviews

He sat alone, inconspicuous to the fans around him and to the action inside of the ring, just off to the side of the stage. It was the first seat in the first row right behind the barrier next to the stage. Those were the seats that intentionally weren’t filled and had played host to a revolving-door of fighters and entourages throughout the night. This was the place where the winners and losers found themselves after their night had ended just to watch the show, this was where Ben Edwards found himself moments after Errol Zimmerman had put him down and out in the first round of their fight.

Edwards was sporting a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt, looking calm, collected, not tired at all or like he had just been involved in a fight of any kind. He may have been knocked out, but his face lacked the markings of someone who had just taken a series of punches to it. A fan or two in the crowd might have yelled out his name, but he was incognito, almost removed from the event entirely. I watched as he shook his head at the sight of Pat Barry going down for a second time, getting his brains scrambled. Edwards distinctly understood the disappointment that Barry was going through at that moment.

Sometimes it is difficult to humanize the guys that train their hearts out for our entertainment, difficult to understand their sacrifices that they make and how after the bell has rung, they are just as human as you or I are. Today I rolled out of bed facing a ten-year old car that decided not to start, just one month shy now of a wedding that is costing a lot more than we had initially projected. It’s just another cost and another inconvenience among many of late for me. Yesterday was also a day where a job that owes me seven months of pay sent me one month and asked if I’d start working again. I hate saying no, in just about any situation, but I barely have time to collect my thoughts right now, never mind work for a promise while the bills stack up.

It’s safe to say that some days I understand what Ben Edwards was thinking about as he sat there at GLORY 16 in Broomfield, Colorado quite well. I introduced myself to him as he sat there, alone, taking in the atmosphere. He looked relaxed, calm, a bit embarrassed to be found out in his seat. We stood about the same height, similar build, but one of us was just a God of War who was now adjusting to life as a mortal again. That guy was having a rough night. Ben was quick to apologize, to say that he made a mistake, that he got sloppy, but I assured him that it was no big deal and that he’s come so far in the past few years. He knows that I’ve been following his career and knows that I’m quick to talk up his technical evolution over the past few years. We talked about his technical breakdown of Catalin Morosanu from a few months prior before I left him to stew in his thoughts, knowing that having a rough night means that conversation can be laborious -- especially moments after being humanized.

Raymond Daniels, who fought on the undercard, was walking around the floor of the arena where fans were shouting out his name and stopping to take photos with him while Ben Edwards sat watching Errol Zimmerman walking to the ring again. I won’t even pretend to understand his thought process at the moment, although I could make some educated guesses. I myself found the surreal in seeing Edwards sitting there, watching Zimmerman walk to the ring, Daniels being mobbed, while Josh Jauncey and his brother Jay walked by with Andy Souwer in tow and everyone seemed completely unaware of the gravity and sheer madness of the situation.

All I could think is that Edwards was seconds away from being that guy walking to the ring. Edwards was raining down punishment on Zimmerman, but got caught, so here he is, in the stands, watching the world turn without him, a mortal like the rest of us. On that night he was far from home and all of the countries that he’d been to, all of the big shows that he’s fought on, all of the accolades that he had gained throughout his career didn’t matter, he was just another guy who had a rough night on the job. He was just another observer. There was a strong disconnect from victory and defeat.

We talk about these fighters from a distance, we weigh their perceived value and potential matchups. We place them in numbered lists and assign them value based on the last time that we saw them, but sometimes forget to humanize them and relate them to our own day-to-day struggles. Today I woke up thinking about all of the work that I had waiting for me, quickly dismissing messages on my phone asking when I’d have an article up or if I saw their last message. Sometimes I consider changing professions, pulling away from the sliver of the public eye that I have and the abuse that I open myself to daily. I know that I’m not alone in thinking that, either.

The other day Ben Edwards posted on his Facebook that he was available to dog-sit for anyone in his town that needed it. There was a hint of playfulness in it, just like changing his occupation to “Dog Sitter,” but Ben is already back at work training for an upcoming fight. Just like I continue on, Ben Edwards continues on, re-assimilating himself into the image that the world knows him in. The world keeps turning and Ben Edwards is making sure that he’s not just along for the ride, but for one night he was a human being whose hopes and dreams were as fragile and elusive as our own all are. That night I saw Ben Edwards be larger-than-life in the ring, fighting as one of the best Heavyweight in the world against one of the best Heavyweights in the world, then saw him as a vulnerable guy who was much more than the public’s image of him, the promotion’s image of him, my image of him or his own image of himself.

He’s the amalgamation of those images and he’s not them at all, just like we all are.

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Nicky Hemmers On Dynasty and Pressures

  • Published in Interviews

Nicky Hemmers

In Shakespeare's Henry IV part II, the king muses, "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown." In saying this, the king is referencing how he himself or any other person who is a leader can be consumed with worries due to a sometimes overwhelming amount of responsibility and tough decisions. A crown, however, is not always tangible, it can be analogous to something such as one's surname. One's name in this life can come with certain expectations for achievement.

Within the kickboxing community, the name Hemmers rings loudly and proudly as one of the most prestigious families to be associated with the sport. Beginning with the patriarch, Cor Hemmers, this legacy for greatness in the sport has been passed down now to his son Nick, who is now creating a legacy of his own .

Beginning his own training at age eleven, Nicky has lived on both sides of the combat sports coin as both as fighter and a trainer. Having fought professionally from age 16 until 2 years ago, now he has now found his niche as a trainer in Breda at Hemmers Gym where he helps to shape and mold the careers of many of the best and brightest of today's kickboxing community. If you want to know who, think Errol Zimmerman, Jamal Ben Saddik, Filip Verlinden, Robin van Roosmalen, Marc de Bonte and countless others who are making their way up the ranks in Glory and other organizations.

Coming from such a prestigious and well known family one would think the pressure to perform and/or make a mark in this world would be immense, and perhaps it is, but Nicky plays his role with style, grace as well as with a touch of humor. In our talk prior to Glory 16 in Denver, he touched upon that very issue, stating that he does feel pressure to perform but also, that he feels he has a down to earth style that allows him to not only explore innovative ways of training fighters but also to seek and accept constructive criticism about performance. He names his father as a key figure and stated that he frequently asks for feedback on his performance.

With a maturity that exceeds his actual years of experience, Nicky also seems to have developed rather keen insight on the multi-dimensional role he plays in the life of a fighter. Having been there himself, Nicky is not afraid to counsel his trainees on the importance of having a back up plan to sustain them once their days in the ring have come to an end. Nicky also expresses a clear understanding of his role in letting a fighter know when enough is enough, stating, "Sure, he can do what he wants, just not under my name."

With many impressive wins at Glory 14, 15 and 16, 2014 promises to be a very big year for Nicky and his team. Admittedly, he has faced adversity and change during the last 18 months but still he smiles, remarking that it has been these changes that continue to help him to grow and make him a better person. As Glory 17 approaches, we can only wish him the best of luck as he and the men from Hemmers Gym continue to make their mark in this often unpredictable world of combat sports.

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GLORY 16's Zack Mwekassa on Redemption and New Beginnings

  • Published in Interviews

GLORY

"Nothing beats faith and hope in life", Zack Mwekassa said.

Powerful words from a man who has obviously had to live at times on the strength of the meaning of those very words. In a bout that is sure to be explosive, the Glory family welcomes Zack Mwekassa, who is set to face kickboxing's returning son, Pat Barry, at Glory 16 in Denver.

Entering the Glory ring, with a 10-1-9, record, this Congolese fighter is ready to show the world what he's all about. Born the youngest of eight children, Mwekassa's life began as somewhat of a miacle. His mother, he stated, had years previously been told that she would bear no more children, only years later to have become pregnant with Zack and to have had his name revealed to her in a dream.

The son of a chemist, Mwekassa describes a life of happiness with his family but also of conflict between he and one of his older brothers. Conflict that set him on the path to a career in combat sports. The relationship which he characterizes as antagonistic, one day led his father to ask "Why don't you two behave normally? Why don't you get involved in sports, football, basketball, boxing, something!" Ah yes, boxing, through the power of that single suggestion, Mwekassa was on his way.

Although he admits that he initially wanted to be a pilot, Mwekassa began training at age 13. After a while he mused that he was no longer bullied by his brother, he had begun to develop skills that would physically give him the upper hand. From that time Mwekassa embarked on a road to success in the boxing ring that saw him doing whatever honest job, no matter how big or small, to support himself. By this time, Mwekassa states, he was living in South Africa following an arrest in 2004. In this early part of his career, Mwekassa, describes a period of intense struggle before he began to experience success in the ring. He recalls working as a sort of valet, guarding people's cars and at times not being paid for hours of work. Still he perservered, continuing to hone his skills as a fighter and eventually success did come with Mwekassa eventually earning UBC and WBF titles. There, however, often a dark side to success.

It's an often told story in the history of professional sports, many athletes experience a shift in the balance between training and enjoying the fruits of their labour. Id versus ego. He readily admits that for a time partying became more important than training. But as with us all, life has a way of delivering us a smack down that ultimately reorients us to reality, if we are smart. Mwekassa too, had such a rude awakening that caused him to reevaluate his priorities and return to his roots as a God a fearing, disciplined and focused man with his eyes on the prize. Today that prize is success in the ring with Glory and it begins Saturday, May 3rd with the match up against former kickboxing champ and UFC veteran, Pat Barry. Although he admits that prior to the bout being scheduled he had not heard of Barry.

Today Mwekassa presents feeling that he has done his homework and is prepared for the final exam. While he is excited and contemplates a long and bright future with Glory, he is today fully focused on Saturday's event. "No I don't want to call anyone out", he smiled and stated when asked if there were other opponents he would be interested in fighting. Win or lose Saturday night Mwekassa presents as a man is here to go the distance and if his past is in any way predictive of his future he will.

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Fighters are Human, Too, and We Need to Treat Them That Way

  • Published in Interviews

(C) GLORY

“These are the gladiators,” my father is fond of saying, “The people who agree to damage each other for our entertainment and money, and by god we’ll gladly pay them to do this until they are too beat up and brain damaged to do it anymore.” My dad is a fight fan. His favorite fighter is Fedor Emelianenko. He says this not to be crass, but to make a point: who accepts moral culpability for the violence entailed in combat sports? There’s three positions you can take: 1) You unequivocally reject combat sports because you reject violence. 2) You take the position of the opening quote, that the contract signed between the “gladiators” absolves everybody (including the fans who watch) of any moral responsibility for the outcomes and consequences of the fight, or 3) You acknowledge the violence but also appreciate and accept the moral consequences. I hope that if you’re a combat sports fan (and especially if you’re a fighter) that you take the third position.

To begin with, I don’t think that people who sincerely make statements like those above actually believe them. Serious acute or chronic injury, or worse, fatality, is not a permissible contingency held by many, and I would question the motives of those for whom it is. There may be those who genuinely believe in the idea that we shouldn’t feel bad about fighters getting seriously hurt, but I would argue that upholding this belief in even the most extreme circumstances is really testing its limits and challenging the scope and expectations that many fighters have about their own careers. No fighter wants to suffer a career ending injury, or worse, die.

Fighters are human beings. We get to see them get hurt, but we seldom see them suffer--physically, emotionally, and financially. They routinely suffer the types of injuries that most people would occasionally if ever experience and they experience more head trauma on a regular basis than most people ever would in a lifetime. We don’t get to experience and understand the personal sacrifices that they make to pursue their passion: career choices, time spent apart from loved ones, medical expenses, debt. Our insight is limited to a promoter’s media package and information publicized through outlets like this one. Fighters desire a quality of life just like anyone else. They have similar desires to make a living and provide for loved ones, even if this is very hard to do in their line of work. Their choice of profession is driven by a passion that any individual should aspire to find in their own careers.

Thus, to fans who believe that fighters have nothing to feel bad about when they hurt their opponent, why deny them their compassion? Why deny yourself compassion? The martial arts is for many practitioners a form of human expression, and while it is the practice of hand-to-hand combat, its prevalence as a component of the healthy lifestyles of many caring and compassionate individuals demonstrates that it doesn’t have to dehumanize; the countless moments of comradery throughout the span of kickboxing illustrate that. A quasi-Cobra Kai-like philosophy of violence without limits or control is malignant and destructive--and is thankfully not shared by many. Those who truly lack compassion in their hearts or who have a desire to inflict suffering when they step into the ring warrant our concern, not praise. It’s ok to care for the well-being of other people no matter what their chosen profession is.

This is the mentality that was reflected in the actions of Gokhan Saki at Glory 15 and articulated by other fighters in the aftermath of the event--there’s something to be said when professional fighters come forward, express their compassion, and demand the same from the fans. It should be the norm for anyone, fan or fighter. We should maintain the humanity to uplift people and celebrate their value, and we should also denounce voices who would seek to dehumanize, demean, reduce, or commoditize the people who we as fans have given our time, money, and appreciation. It’s the human thing to do.

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