Archive | January, 2008

Hands Of Steel In Thailand

23 Jan

by FTX (2008-01-23)

UFC veteran, Scott “Hands Of Steel” Smith, is in Thailand preparing for his February 16th fight against fellow Fairtex athlete Kyle Noke.The two will meet in Miami as part of the Elite XC “Street Certified” event.
Scott, a long time student of Ganyao Fairtex, traveled to Fairtex in Thailand to begin his training camp.Scott has been working hard, and is ready for what he knows will be a very tough and exciting fight.His trainers have been very happy with his progress, and conditioning through camp.Scott is confident that it will be his night to shine in Miami.
Fairtex wishes both of our friends, Scott and Kyle, the best of luck.We’re all looking forward to a great fight from both athletes on February 16th.
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Episode 1 – Trevor Goes Home

23 Jan

by FTX (2008-01-23)

The Contender Asia finally premiered yesterday and like all Muay Thai fans, I was part of the overplayed hype and glued myself to AXN even before 9pm. The premiere, however, wasn’t quite the 10/10 I was expecting (and I guess this is partly because I went to see some of the live matches).
Personally, the disappointment came from two main areas. One was the editing of the fight. Muay Thai fans love watching full length fight videos. Edited fights, somehow, seem incomplete, therefore not quite as fulfilling as a full length one. The first fight was edited quite a bit, cutting angles and missing turns. It was as if the camera man was in the way. The plus point, however, was that there were some great shots on knees and elbows. The impact and execution of techniques were visible. The sound effect, almost like working a heavy bag, of course, was a bonus. The other disappointment was the lack of training videos. We didn’t get to see much of the Contenders working the pads or even shadow boxing. Then again, it’s only the first show. I am keeping my hopes up for the next!
The show began at a rather slow pace, with the introduction of the Contenders and splitting them into two groups – the red Tiger Kings and the blue Wild Boars. John Wayne Parr was the selected leader of the red Tiger Kings and picked two-time world champion Yodsaenklai, Soren, Zach, Trevor, Pitu, Dzhabar and James and leader of the blue Wild Boars, Rafik, picked Naruepol, Zidov, Bruce, David, Alain, Yukay and Sean was the last to be picked. The living quarters and facilities, I must say, is probably the best Singapore has ever seen.
The Tiger Kings lost in their first challenge (We must be proud of Zach. He kept his head up after his bad fall and wasn’t the slightest bit intimidated even though he knew he might be picked to fight), leaving the Wild Boars with victory and had to have one of their team members picked to fight the Wild Boars. Naruepol from the Blue team volunteered and by common consensus, picked Trevor from the Red team.
The first fight was a pretty fast-paced one. Trevor threw in quick punches, focusing mainly on the 1-2s and low kicks. One cannot deny that Trevor has some great technique and aggression. Naruepol, on the other hand, appeared unfazed, absorbing the low kicks and playing defense on the punches. One strong hook could have gotten Naruepol down, however, the Thai’s experience is evident as he quickly anticipates Trevor’s moves and teases his opponent with jabs, throwing knees and high kicks, not giving up in an almost possible knock out match.
The match remained pretty much that. The climax came after the 4th Round when the Thai corner said, “Don’t use your elbows to knock him out. Pity him.” (All these said in Thai, of course) Don’t we all feel bad for Trevor! The poor guy flew halfway across the world, left his wife whom he just married for 24hrs, and gets sent home on the first day. All these and it wasn’t even his choice. An unfortunate victim of circumstances. The fight ended and we’re all impressed by Trevor for his fighting spirit, and Naruepol is undoubtedly, one of the best Thai fighters.
(Contender Asia Fans gave an excellent play-by-play commentary on the fight. To view the commentary, sign up or log in to Contender Asia Fans.)
Overall, the premiere of Contender Asia has left us Muay Thai fans in greater anticipation and the explosive-ness of the show will inspire those outside the circle of us common Muay Thai practitioners. Low-budget series or not, this show has set the ground work for the growing sport in the region, especially in Singapore where Muay Thai still remains a less than popular sport.
The next fight is on 23rd January 2008, Wednesday, 9pm, AXN. Keep watching!

Muay Thai Contender Must Do Sport Justice

22 Jan

by Julian Turner for Bangkok Post – Thailand (2008-01-22)

I’ll be watching the premiere of the Muay Thai version of boxing reality show The Contender tonight with real trepidation.
The show is called The Contender Asia and will be aired on TrueVisions’ AXN channel (D25, A19) at 10pm.
It features the same format as the boxing version, with 16 Muay Thai fighters living together and then battling it out to win the overall title.
The series was filmed in Singapore and there are two Thais on the show, as well as Europeans and Australians.
Looking at the line-up, Lumpini Stadium and WBC champion Yodsaenklai Fairtex is my bet to win the title and 7.4 million baht prize money.
Team challenges will play a part in the show and plenty of air-time will be devoted to the fighters’ personalities.
This is one aspect which I fear could exploit the competitors, especially the Thais on the programme.
While some of the American boxers on the The Contender were quick to shoot off their mouths and generally make fools of themselves, this is thankfully not a part of Muay Thai culture in this country.
The vast majority of Muay Thai fighters are quiet, considered individuals with a great respect for the history of the sport.
They may be ferocious fighters inside the ring but they are also gentlemen outside the ropes.
Trash-talking is unheard of between fighters in Thailand and the wish to avoid unnecessary confrontation is paramount.
I wonder whether the producers of The Contender Asia will have been prepared to accept this cultural difference while filming the show.
I hope they haven’t tried to spice things up for the sake of it while dragging Muay Thai down into the gutter in the process.
The American boxing version of The Contender often makes for sickly viewing with the pugilists filmed in staged meetings with their families while they make sentimental statements about what they are fighting for.
Do we really need to hear every boxer say that they are doing it for their family and the future?
I’m sure you would get the same statement from most people who work, whether they beat people up or flip burgers to get a salary.
However, my biggest gripe with The Contender has always been that the actual fights at the end of the show are edited into a movie-like montage peppered with replays and enhanced sound effects.
Seemingly, the producers felt viewers were incapable of watching and appreciating a fight in its entirety after building up the matches throughout the show.
This practice totally devalues the fights, as though they aren’t good enough without being changed into some grotesque homage to a Rocky film.
It is impossible to know if the scoring rings true without being able to see every second of the action.
It is also easy for the producers to create a false impression if they show the same punch landing over and over from different angles accompanied with loud sound effects.
This is one reason why I hope The Contender Asia is modelled more on the mixed martial arts reality show called The Ultimate Fighter (which is also shown on AXN).
The Ultimate Fighter screens the full fights at the end of each episode, no matter what happens in them.
Some of the matches are exciting while some are tedious but we need to see the whole thing to make an informed judgement on what is going on.
The Contender Asia has the potential to be a great international platform to boost the popularity of Muay Thai.
But it needs to hit the right balance between entertainment and respect for the sport.
If it doesn’t come up to scratch then you might be better off at Lumpini or Ratchadamnoen stadium watching the real thing.
Article taken from

Oxbow’s Eugene Robinson Chokes Rowdy Concertgoers

21 Jan

by Mary Spicuzza for SF Weekly (2008-01-21)

A large man nicknamed Big Chris approached the stage where Eugene S. Robinson and the rest of his band, Oxbow, were performing. Robinson had just had a bottle launched at his head. Big Chris opened his shirt to reveal a ballpoint-penned imitation of Robinson’s snake tattoo on his stomach while waving his hands in a “threatening manner.”
This particular night Oxbow was playing at the 1 in 12, an anarchist club in Bradford, England — not the type of place with an active security staff. That’s when Robinson, a six-foot-one, 235-pound competitive fighter who is also a former bodybuilder and bouncer, decided to act as his own security — or, as he describes it, give himself over to the “violence and blood and fear” in the air. He dragged Big Chris into a martial arts move known as the “rear naked choke,” wrapping his right arm under the guy’s chin and bracing the back of his head with his left forearm. Robinson leaned back and, seconds later, Big Chris slumped sideways, unconscious. Rather than looking angry, the singer appeared downright joyous through the entire choke-out — a scene captured in the 2003 documentary Music For Adults: A Film About a Band Called Oxbow.

Those familiar with the experimental art-rock band know there will never be a shortage of stories about Robinson’s onstage antics. Typical details include tattoo-covered muscles dripping with sweat, ears covered in duct tape, the singer stripped to his underwear, and plenty of pelvic thrusts.

But the most legendary stories about Oxbow shows involve the 45-year-old Robinson’s proclivity for asskickage. There are the cautionary tales involving those best described as “hecklers gone bad,” such as one man who approached Robinson and confessed to interrupting three live performances by whistling and throwing lit cigarettes and ice chips. He eventually suffered a couple of knockouts at Robinson’s hands when he started causing trouble at a fourth Oxbow show. There was a drunken Red Sox fan who, angry after his team suffered a defeat, confronted Robinson outside a club and ended up on the concrete. And there are the stories about overzealous audience members who’ve ended up being choked, knocked out, or coming close to meeting the business end of a knife.

Robinson admits that the Internet is rife with stories about him being a “prick and a degenerate and a bully.” Many actually focus on his clothes-shedding or his sheer ability to intimidate. One reviewer for Decibel, an extreme-metal magazine, described him as a “singer who harbors a fondness — make that compulsion — for getting his dick out onstage.” One Pitchfork review cites the “fearsome presence” Robinson strikes, while another calls him a “terrifying hulk of a man.”

Still, Robinson insists he has never been obnoxious or violent toward anyone who didn’t deserve it. He’s a proponent of the theory that disrespect begets disrespect. “In every instance I’ve gotten into a fight in public, I was attacked first,” he says.

But those who know Robinson realize he has passions beyond brawling — and that his brain is ultimately far scarier than his brawn. He’s quite the Renaissance man: a Stanford alumnus who majored in communications, a computer geek, an editor, a host with Combat Music Radio, a sex columnist, and now an author. That’s right: The San Francisco vocalist you don’t want to piss off is on tour again — this time with his new book, FIGHT: everything you ever wanted to know about ass-kicking but were afraid you’d get your ass kicked for asking.

“It started for me with another not-so-simple, simple question: ‘What the fuck are you looking at?'” Robinson writes of the roots of his passion in FIGHT.

But he also traces his desire to fight to a deeper aspect of himself that he believes is in his DNA as much as the color of his hair or eyes. “It’s in my blood … the desire to — for want of anything but this colloquialism — the desire to go to the post,” he explained at a recent book reading.

Robinson prides himself on being a “pretty straight fuckin’ shooter,” and argues that fighting is an incredibly honest form of expression. “There’s no real equivocation in an elbow to the jaw, no pussyfooting about the gray shadings of meaning inherent in civilized and power-shielded discourse,” he writes. “It’s a potent tie to our immediate and ever-present animal.”

FIGHT, which resembles a dude-friendly coffee-table book with big color pictures and punching illustrations, is what Robinson calls a “kind-of philosophical monograph on the interpersonal nature of conflict.” In it, the self-proclaimed “fightaholic” unleashes an homage to all sorts of bloody combat and takes on a slew of professional fighters. He hangs out with notorious Irish mobster-turned-author Kevin Weeks (who allegedly helped Leonardo DiCaprio prepare for his role in The Departed), suffers a ruptured quadriceps tendon against fleet-footed fighter Cung Le, and tracks down ex-cons in an attempt to find out whether a fight style known as “jailhouse rock” is fact or fiction. With its descriptions of cage fighters, soccer hooligans, and professional pugilists, the chapters of FIGHT unfold with the pace and rhythm of a good sparring match. “There’s the spastic flurry of hands and the smell that always ends up smelling like chicken soup gone bad (fear),” Robinson writes. “There’s the mumble and the groan and eventually the slip into recognized roles (doer and done to). And finally, if everything works right, there’s the reminder that we are far worse/better than the animals we own as pets and unsophisticated chattel.

“What we are though, is this: we are fighters.”

The origins of the book lie in a discussion Robinson had a few years ago with LA Weekly editor Joe Donnelly, an acquaintance, about redesigning that paper’s music section. But after Donnelly recounted a recent bar fracas, their conversations shifted to fighting. The result — a September 29, 2005 piece titled “Anytime, Anywhere: Hardcore provocateur Eugene Robinson searches for the almost-perfect punch” — serves as the basis of FIGHT.

The piece quickly caught the attention of HarperCollins, which invited Robinson to New York to discuss publishing a book devoted to fighting. Robinson wrote one as a tribute, a how-to guide, and a non-apologia for the fight. Or, as he calls it, “Zen and the Art of Kick-Assertainment.”

FIGHT has gotten plenty of glowing reviews, with some comparing Robinson to James Joyce and Norman Mailer. But it has had a critic or two as well. James F. Sweeney at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland wrote that “Robinson is such a fan of fighting that he offers no real consideration of why violence is so popular or of its role in society.”

Certainly some in the peace-and-love community will come away from the book wondering whether people can simply talk through their differences.

When asked about philosophical arguments against fighting, Robinson seems unconvinced. “These guys who don’t support the idea of fighting are full of shit,” he says late one night at the gym, sometime after riding the stationary bike and lifting shoulder weights but before his midnight run. He mentions Hitler and others who’ve refused to “recognize reasonable boundaries,” over the years: “There are people who need to be stopped. And there is no amount of talk and negotiation out if it, there is no way out of it.”

Robinson says he feels he has little to prove to anybody these days. While he dedicated FIGHT to his enemies — “Every single one of them. Without you, none of this would have ever been possible” — he doesn’t seem worried about his critics. Although, when asked about those enemies, he says he wishes they all had one neck and his “hands were on it.”

Embracing this love of the fight is by no means following the advice Robinson got while he was growing up in Brooklyn. His mom, Irma Norman, says she had long intellectual talks with her son about fighting and alternatives to violence dating back to when he was 4 or 5 years old. She told him that “people who fight are angry people,” and that it would be better to discuss problems.

Robinson remembers the talks, but was never persuaded by her approach to conflict resolution. His response: “Aw, mom, I don’t want to run away. If I run away I’ll just be tired when they’re beating me up. I want karate lessons!”

He ended up sneaking over to a local church for Shotokan karate classes. Still, Robinson and his mom agree he was a “gentle kid” who didn’t fight much. He was more likely to be found sitting on the stoop with friends, having intense discussions about comic books and superheroes. And if they didn’t agree, “Gene would debate and debate and debate until he would win,” Norman says with a laugh. “He would wear his opponents down.” She remembers one friend who never won an argument, and generally knew their discussions were over when she’d hear her son say, ‘Ha! I got you!'”

While Robinson excelled at verbal combat, his entry into the word of competitive fighting started badly. “There was the first one where I got my ass kicked badly by a judo guy when I was 9 years old, which was wonderfully humiliating because I never even got to throw a punch,” he says. “Because every time I stood up, the guy threw me down.” Those gathered to watch were “laughing uproariously” throughout the spectacle. And there was his second fight, which he won with a sole punch. “And I was like, ‘Oh, yes! Now this makes sense to me!'”

Growing up in New York City also taught Robinson the importance of choosing his battles. He remembers hearing about a man who chased down a purse-snatcher in Coney Island, only to be fatally stabbed with a sharpened screwdriver by the thief. “And the punch line for me was that the old lady had 84 cents in her purse,” he says. “Now, old ladies should be able to go hither and yon without being molested, but at the same time I don’t want to get knifed in the chest for 84 fuckin’ cents.”

Knowing when not to fight served Robinson well as a teenager — such as when, at age 13, he upset the girlfriend of a member of the Jolly Stompers gang as school was ending for the day. He describes the scene that ensued as straight out of the gang movie The Warriors. “And what is the expression about the greater part of valor? I hid in the bathroom!” he laughs. “Until at such time I thought it was appropriate to get the fuck out of there.”

Calling that a “completely defensible action,” he offers this survival tip: Next time you are in a building surrounded by people who want to kill you, you hide, too.

Robinson, however, was no thug. He worked in Manhattan as a disco dance instructor, specializing in the Latin Hustle. On other nights he’d head to CBGB and other clubs to see punk shows. After graduating from high school, Robinson moved across the country to attend Stanford University. Norman says she discouraged her son from trying out for the football team because she was worried about him getting hurt — he joined the rugby team instead. “He’s always enjoyed the rough and tumble,” she says with a sigh.

During his time at Stanford, Robinson began playing with the punk band Whipping Boy. Although he started out as a biology major, he switched to communications and worked as a journalist for the Stanford Daily newspaper. He also published a magazine named The Birth of Tragedy.

Robinson struggled with college debt and was at one point so broke that he says a friend talked him into eating grass (or, more specifically, seed) from the backyard. “It tasted grassy, you know, like you would expect grass to taste,” he says. “It wasn’t very filling, though.” After that, he opted to pursue a career in corporate media. He suspects his job hunting was helped by the fact that this was largely the pre-Internet era, before potential employers were easily able to find details about his punk rock alter ego.

Robinson also dipped into acting. He appeared in the notoriously bad 1987 Bill Cosby superhero movie Leonard Part 6, playing a thuggish guard to the villainous Medusa Johnson (Gloria Foster), a vegetarian activist out to take over the world with the help of attack frogs and man-eating rabbits. From playing a tattooed dude in a Miller beer commercial (directed by Gus Van Sant) to a bank robber in an industrial video as well as an international arms dealer in the campy Las Apassionadas, a short film about mercenary soldiers who start fighting for art’s sake, Robinson was cast, not surprisingly, as a tough bad guy.

Still, he hated the “touchy-feely” and fake aspects of acting, and contends that actors aren’t real artists. Music, however, was a different story — as he insists, “Punk rock saved my life!” Robinson may have been surrounded by Young Republicans at Stanford, but “in the 1980s we had the hardcore explosion, and it was a good time to be in California. That’s the only reason I stayed.”

That decision resulted in a cult following for the nearly-two-decade-old Oxbow, which was named the greatest art-rock band in the world by Vice magazine. Robinson says he originally designed the band to be a solo project — or, more accurately, “a well-crafted suicide note” — but teamed up with Niko Wenner and the band. “There’s so much to [Robinson] and Oxbow,” says Mark Thompson of Hydra Head Records, which released the band’s recent album, The Narcotic Story. “They’ve done lots of living, and I love that. That’s what drew me further and further into them — they’ve got so much history.”

Robinson’s friend and former co-worker at EQ magazine, Matt Harper, says those roots in the punk scene may have contributed to Robinson’s desire to defend himself. He suspects some of the rich white kids have a “look at the big black guy onstage” fascination with the singer.

While Robinson may not have been making much money during his early punk- rock and Birth of Tragedy days, it did give him the opportunity to publish work, and his magazine released a record featuring Lydia Lunch and Henry Rollins. (It was called The Birth of Tragedy Magazine’s Fear Power God Spoken Word/Graven Image.) Through Lunch, Robinson met and befriended Dean Kuipers, now deputy editor for The Guide in the Los Angeles Times.

Kuipers immediately noticed Robinson’s gift for what he calls “incredible dramatic effect.” Not long after they met, Robinson picked Kuipers up in a 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu (which he’d roller-painted black) and the pair drove out to a shooting range. Kuipers rented a gun and joined a row of 10 or so men, who he says looked like “upstanding white guys,” and started firing. The relatively quiet, steady stream of gunfire from the other shooters was suddenly interrupted by an enormous explosion. Everyone looked over at Robinson, who had just fired six shots and was “laughing his head off.”

“There he is with this long-barrel .44 Magnum,” Kuipers recalls. “Totally Dirty Harry.” He describes his friend as the worst nightmare of the other men, who also seemed disconcerted by the way Robinson wrote names on the targets with a Sharpie before firing at them. However, on the way home Robinson was as cheerful and smiling as ever and cooked the pair a huge pot of hamburger and peas for dinner. “Great day, yeah, great day at the range,” Kuipers says with a laugh.

Yet Kuipers worries that Robinson’s love of fighting may ultimately prove to be his downfall. “I’m trying not to encourage that side of Eugene; I think it has limited potential,” he says. “How can that end well? Somebody is going to karate-chop his arm off … or he’s going to kill someone.”

For every story Robinson’s friends have about his abilities as a fighter, they have multiple (often more interesting) ones about the less obvious aspects of his life. They seem a bit bored by the stereotypical tales of asskickage. As Scott Kelly of Combat Music Radio — who met Robinson and Oxbow through his own band, Neurosis, nearly two decades ago — puts it: “He’s the real deal, no doubt. But I’ve seen him fight viciously with his intellect. … His physicality is incidental, really.”

And Robinson’s day job emphasizes his brains over his brawn. He is a senior editor at MacLife magazine, a rather peaceful aspect of his existence. In the Editors’ Blogs section of the tech magazine’s Web site, there’s a photograph of a mild-mannered-looking Robinson gazing out under the headline, “A Neat Hard Drive Is A Happy Hard Drive.” This particular entry details the steps Robinson used to organize the data on his laptop, citing another entry in which he learned a difficult but important lesson: Back up early and often. “They were all gone Johnson but it was not my fault,” Robinson writes of the experience of losing all his files. “Like a hurricane or an earthquake or a record by Kelly Osbourne.”

On a recent weekday, Robinson emerges from the elevator into the sterile South San Francisco office-building lobby where he works. It would be a stretch to say he looks at home amid the corporate office parks, but with his big smile and bear hugs — his muscles and tattoos covered by the professional attire (often a sports jacket or button-up shirt over black jeans or dark pants) he wears to his day job — it’s hard to imagine why words like “dangerous” and “crazy” are so often used to describe him onstage.

In addition to editing, writing, and hosting a podcast for Combat Music Radio, Robinson also writes the “Ask Vinnie” sex column for — the most recent contribution to the sex-advice column genre. A virtual cultural ambassador of sex columns, Robinson has written “Guy Spy” for Mode magazine and “Avi Baby” for a Jewish newsletter in New York.

As open as he is about sex and violence — topics that inspire discomfort in most people — Robinson is fiercely protective of his personal life. When asked about his private life, he declined to discuss it.

When Robinson does get going, it’s his ability to hop to and from so many different subjects that has helped to earn him the billing of Renaissance Man. “Funny, well read, an excellent writer, very loyal,” Salvatore Russo says when asked to describe his friend. The pair met about four years ago at a basement fight club, the same night Robinson was knocked out by professional fighter Chris Sanford.

“It was like the Fourth of July,” Robinson writes in FIGHT. “There was a silvery burst of light and then ease. And quiet. And tremendous ease. The mat was cool against my face, and as unseen hands lifted me upright I hear myself murmur. Almost whisper, even, ‘I’m okay. I slipped. I tripped.'”

For Robinson, much of his life has been about fighting — which probably explains the nervousness at his recent reading at the SF Camerawork art gallery on Mission Street when an older man confronted him about his book. In the wake of several schoolyard stabbings in Britain, Robinson mentioned that he told HarperCollins that it could pull a section from the book about knife fighting, titled “While My Knife Gently Weeps.” The guy in the audience, who said he was a hypnotist who trained fighters, seemed intent on grilling Robinson about the goal of the book, what he was trying to teach people, and what he was trying to say about fighting. He criticized the experienced competitive fighter for “going for the dollars” rather than being “a good example of the warrior spirit.”

Tension filled the room. What would Robinson — who has studied arts like boxing, karate, Muay Thai, and Brazilian jujitsu — do? Would he choke the guy? Deliver a right cross with a grin?

Robinson began by defending his position — verbally. The two pages on knife fighting, he explained, were added only at the request of one of his publishers. “So, your question is, given an opportunity now to have a fight with British Parliament, wouldn’t I take this fight, gladly engage in the spirit of combat to make a point?” he told his antagonist. “I don’t know what the point of that is.”

No one ended up dead after the confrontation. Robinson never raised a fist. In fact, he never even raised his voice.

Robinson may passionately defend his art, whether it be his music or his writing, but he proudly says he’ll “sell out in a fucking second.” Yet he, like Oxbow, has already been winning plenty of fans with his approach to music and success. While the band’s members have joked about playing shows in front of a handful of people, their new album, The Narcotic Story, has been widely praised. The album’s producer is nominated for a Grammy. And Robinson recently appeared at the London Jazz Festival at the invitation of Barry Adamson, where he read from his book and sang Tom Waits’ “Romeo is Bleeding” to an enthusiastic crowd.

This month, Robinson begins a cross-country tour of clubs, bookstores, and fight clubs to perform and promote FIGHT. He had to take a break from fighting before the tour because of persistent thumb and finger injuries, but agreed to go up against a fighter on his first tour stop in Washington state last weekend. It was with a guy he beat in a fight club years ago and, Robinson says, “he’s been chasing me ever since.” But alas, the other man “begged off.”

While Robinson seems unlikely to slow down anytime soon, there was something a bit different about Oxbow’s most recent show at Great American Music Hall opening for Jesu in November. The sound was definitely Oxbow, and the music was played with a distinct level of sophistication and class. Yet while Robinson took off his jacket and shirt, he remained otherwise clothed throughout the set.

Could it be that Robinson was taking this selling-out approach seriously? Was San Francisco’s most dangerous singer mellowing out or feeling self-conscious?

When asked if he was feeling shy that night, he bursts out laughing. “Me?” he asked. “Shy?” More laughter. “It was cold in there!”

The Russian Crusher Wins!

21 Jan

by FTX (2008-01-21)

Alex Serdyukov returned with an impressive win over Mike Gates.Here is the summary from
“Moscow, Russia welterweight Alex Serdyukov (6-4) won by technical knockout over Hamilton, MT’s Mike Gates (4-2-1) at 2:05 of the second round.
After an action packed first round, Serdyukov landed a vicious knee to the body, which dropped Gates and then Serdyukov followed up with a barrage of punches and knees to the body.
The fight eventually came back to the feet, but Gates was obviously hurt and was taken down and then mounted where the fight ended.” – Jeremy Luchau for
From everyone at Fairtex, congratulations Alex!Make t a great 2008!

Contender Asia – Trevor Smandych is sent home

20 Jan

by Contender Asia (2008-01-20)

Welcome to The Contender Asia where 16 of the world’s best fighters representing 12 different countries come together in Singapore to compete to become The Contender. The form of martial art chosen? Muay Thai Boxing, an 8-point contact fight that tests the mind, body, heart and spirit. Muay Thai, otherwise known as the art of the 8 limbs originates from Thailand where it also represents Thailand’s national sport. We caught our first glimpse of all 16 contenders through the introductory montage of the show, all 16 who are winners and champions in their own right, so who will send the pretenders to the throne packing to become the ultimate Contender?

In the introduction we first met John Wayne, an Australian with a reputation as big as his size. He said it did not matter whether he was white and believes that given the time and effort he has put in, he will be able to win. Next we meet Trevor the newlywed from Canada who exclaims that he is a force to be reckoned with. Another Australian Bruce believes that this is a test of his own self through this competition.
In the face of this tough competition and colourful characters, who will be The Contender?

Meeting the contenders

We are first introduced to their trainer, Stephen Fox, one of the world’s leading trainers and former Muay Thai World Champion. He owns and runs the world famous Muay Thai gym in Koh Samui and is the Vice President of the World MuayThai Council. He has, together with his team of trainers, handpicked the contenders from all over the world. Stephen meets Jaymee Ong, the host for the show at the main arena in which the contenders will be fighting. Together they introduce the fighters in the show. As they were being introduced, the fighters walked into the arena and lined up in front of the ring.

In the first batch of introductions we met Joakim Karlsson from Sweden, Naruepol Fairtex from Thailand, Jose Pitu Sans from Spain, Zidov Dominik from Switzerland, David Pacquette from the United Kingdom, Dzhabar Askerov from the United Arab Emirates and Yodsaenklai, our second Thai competitor. In his interview, Yodsaenklai, boldly stated, “…I am a world champion famous in Thailand and the world. I’m not afraid of fighting against western fighters.” Homegrown Zach from Singapore came next saying in his interview that he definitely was the underdog in the competition with the least amount of fighting experince. He goes into it with nothing to lose! John Wayne Parr who we met earlier on came next. Following him was Rafik Bakkouri from France who explained in his interview,”I’m a fighter in life and I’m a fighter in the ring.” The second Australian fighter Bruce Macfie came next. Subsequently we met Alain Sylvestre from Canada, Sean Wright from Scotland and Trevor Smandych from Canada, who just got married twenty-four hours before he reached Singapore for The Contender Asia. Next we met, James Martinez from United States of America and finally, the third Aussie in the competition, Soren Mongkontong.

Stephen then explained to all 16 contenders that the arena they were in was where they would be fighting for the right to stay in the competition. Jaymee continued on to explain that each week two men will fight with the loser sent home and the winner staying on course to become Asia’s first contender. The winner would not only have the right to call himselfthe Ultimate Muay Thai fighter but will also walk away with USD$150,000 worth of prize money.
The contenders then started to mingle with each other around the room. Being trained in this traditional Thai form of martial arts, they placed their hands together and bowed in a traditional Thai custom, while they sized up the competition. Sean mentioned in his interview that looking at Stephen, the world class trainer as well as the competition, the reality hit him that this indeed was the ultimate competition and that there was no turning back.

The loft and training area

We were then taken into the loft, home for the fighters for the duration of the Contender Asia where they will be staying as well as training. There were plenty of bedrooms for the fighters, a chic living room area plus a full sized boxing ring surrounded by multitude of punching bags and excellent training equipment. The men looked around at the room in excitement and happiness occasionally testing out the equipment. Stephen explained that the room contained all the state of the art equipment that they could possibly desire, and also this was where they would be training for their fights.

Sean explained that the house was great and it had the best equipment. This was when we first saw the excitement onthe faces of the fighters in their new home. Sean and Rafik stood in the ring and exclaimed, “we are here!” right above ‘The Contender’ sign.Rafik exclaimed that he had never seen grounds like this ever in his life. The men got a feel around the room and started to socialize with each other. They goofed around as they tried out the punching the bags and experimented with some of the equipment. They walked around the kitchen, which was stocked up with all the possible food that a fighter would need; huge bottles of juice, bananas, bread and a whole lot of other types of food items. They peeked around the cupboards to see what else was in store for them.

Zidov continued to joke around with the other housemates and the atmosphere around the room became very light and jovial. The fighters relaxed around their new living room while David explained that in Thailand they usually stayed in shacks and it was nice to be in a comfortable environment for a change. The moment of rest was broken when Stephen and Jaymee entered the room to summon the fighters to the training area.

There, Stephen told them that throughout the competition there will be a series of challenges for them to compete in. The winning team in each challenge will have the right to pick the competitors in the next fight. They will get to pick one person from their own team as well as the opponent from the losing team.
A ‘school yard pick’ was conducted to decide how the fighters will be separated into their individual teams. Stephen had decided the team captains based on the contenders previous records and character. John Wayne Parr was called up first. (Screenshot 9) In the interview he said, “…It was such an honour as there were so many other great fighters… it’s a privilege… I want to be a good role model.” Rafik was then chosen as the other team captain and he said that he was chosen because “he is strong in his mind and in his body.” Jaymee then tossed a coin to determine who will start picking their teammates first. Wayne picked tails and tails it was. He got the first pick.

First up, he chose the Thai world champion, Yodsaenklai because, he said, he is the strongest and also due to the fact that he is Thai. Rafik picked the next Thai boxer, Naruepol. It seemed to be some sort of strategy for the team captains to pick the two Thai boxers first and this was confirmed by David when he said in his interview that if he were captain he would have picked the two Thai boxers as well as they would be best in their own sport.

John Wayne said that felt the pressure at this point and chose his fellow countrymen next, Soren. At this juncture, the camera panned at the third Aussie in the competition, Bruce who rolled his eyes at Wayne’s decision. He said in his interview that he was a better fighter that Soren, hands down and is looked obviously unhappy that he was not chosen next. However, Rafik chose him as his second pick. He then exclaimed that he wanted to be on the opposing team from John Wayne as he had “a score to settle” from the past. Pitu was chosen next by Wayne, followed by Rafik picking David. In his interview, Trevor said that he is a short guy and obviously when picking a team they would naturally go for the one with with the physical attributes. However, he just didn’t want to be picked last.

Tension was rising and prickling in the air as the captains continued to pick their teammates. Wayne picked Dzhabar next. Rafik injected a little humour in his picking style to lighten the mood, and picked Alain. In his interview, Wayne said that Alain might have been a strong asset to his team if only he could have had him. Moving on, he said that he will pick the only Singaporean on the team, Zach! A rather relieved looking Zach joined Wayne. Rafik picked Karlsson next. Wayne picked James. Rafik picked Zidov. Rafik said that Zidov was not afraid of strong guys but liked him cause “he’s mad.”

Wayne then picked Trevor next leaving Sean left as the last pick who automatically joined Rafik’s team. In his interview Trevor said he really did not want to be picked last and that he wanted to be on Wayne’s team. He explained that he had been looking up to him throughout his career and thus it was a great honor for him.A rather sour Sean was picked last by Rafik and he said he felt very pissed off and did not believe that he was the weakest person in the competition. Furthermore, he continued on to say that if people were going to underestimate him then he would use it in his favor.

Stephen then explains to the fighters the meaning of the name of their teams. Wayne’s team was the red team called the Tiger Kings, a name derived from one of the strongest fighters in Muay Thai history, a man of strength. Rafik’s team was the blue team called the Wild Boars, a modern legendary figure in Muay Thai who never once lost in his career. The fighters were given their team shirts and were asked to settle into their bedrooms with their newly formed teams.

Settling in

The men continue to bond with their teammates in their respective rooms. In the Wild Boars room, the men were settling into beds. They displayed photos of loved ones and shared it with their fellow teammates. Many of them also brought along their medals and trophies from their past competitions to perhaps use as a psychological edge over their competitors. David told Bruce about his fiancé Nikki and his proposal to her on New Year’s Eve.

In the Tiger Kings’ room, the men continued to settle in. James shared with Trevor pictures of his family back home in the USA. In return Trevor showed James pictures of his new wife and messages from his loved ones which were given to him for his trip to Singapore. He explained that his wife is very supportive, despite of some people’s distaste with him for leaving her right after their marriage for the competition. Karlsson then showed Dzhabar a picture of his son and explained that though he misses him, he was here to fight for his son. Yodsaenklai showed Wayne his belt from the competition in Australia where he had beaten Wayneen route to becoming champion. The team laughed good-naturedly and remained in good spirits.

Time for training

They met Stephen in the training area and he explained to them that although they were in teams, they might have to fight against each other in the not too distant future. Also, they had to train hard so as to be able to win challenges which were of utmost importance in deciding the fights as mentioned earlier on. They started with some sprints and stretches before working with their Thai trainers. As they were training, the fighters began sizing each

Stephen explained that to fight at the level of the contender, they had to train twice a day, with a minimum of 2 hours in each session, 6 times a week. We then saw the contenders sprinting and warming up as they prepared for their work out session. Some went right to work on their punching bags while others practiced with their trainers. There are 8 weapons, Stephen said, the kicks, the knees, the elbows and the punches which all scored points for the fighter during the fights. Their training session was tough as the men were pushed to their limits; they were made to kick higher and harder with each and every kick that followed. The men, however took it all in their stride and looked very determined to press even harder.

Bruce said it was an honour to be there training as he has a lot of respect for Stephen as he is a great ambassador for the sport. Right then, Wayne said it was a good time to check out the competition by analyzing the other team’s weaknesses as well as the strengths of his own team. Wayne then started analysing the fighters. First, he commented that David from the Wild Boars seemed to be in the best physical shape and technically sound and thus was the man to look out for. He commented that Yodsaenklai was a serious competition because he was very strong and had great boxing skills. He added that he lost to him once in Australia and that if he could beat him in this competition he would be a “superstar”. He continued on to say that Soren was a great fighter and that he had fought with him once and was someone to look out for.He said that although the westerners were very good, the Thais were the ones to beat.

Rafik commented that although Wayne was very popular in the Muay Thai scene with his plethora of titles, he felt that he was putting on weight or as he put it “he’s fat!” Laughing, he said that he believed that it would be really easy to win against Wayne now due to this weakness. Alain commented that Zidov was putting on weight as well and it would be easy to beat him. As the fighters continued to size each other up, they released more powerful kicks and punches.

The Challenge

As the men were brought out for their first challenge, they seemed serious about winning. Wayne commented that it was important to win to be able to determine the fighters for the first match. Jaymee explained that in the challenge they would be running ‘sprints in a relay’ against each other. They had to run, tag a member on the opposite side and only then can the next members start running. The race would end when all members finished their run. The catch, Stephen added, was that instead of running singularly, they would be running in pairs, attached by a rope and a relay. Stephen explained that this would test not only their stamina but also their teamwork. He exclaimed, “there is no ‘I’ in team.” They partner up and start joining each other through the rope and relay. David derived a strategy for the Wild Boars to speed up or slow down according to their partners.

The race began once everyone was finally tied to their partners and were at their starting positions. Jaymee blew the horn and off they ran! Bruce and Alain for the Wild Boars and Dzhabar and Trevor for the Tiger Kings. The Tiger Kings were in the lead but the Wild Boars managed to catch up with them towards the end as they tagged their next pair of teammates.At this point, the Boars pushed ahead into the lead. Zach and Soren ran for the Tiger Kings and tried to make up some ground but however in doing so, they lost their rhythm and Zach tripped over Soren’s foot and hence sent both of them crumbling to the ground along with the Tiger Kings hopes of winning the challenge.

The Wild Boars went on to win the race with ease after the Tiger Kings mishap. In a good show of unity and teamwork, the Tiger Kings rushed to Zach’s aide. He had injured his shoulder as a result of the fall onto the tarred surface. During this time, the Wild Boars howled in the happiness of winning. Stephen told Zach to bounce back from the injury as Zach looked on obviously unhappy, as he had caused his team, the Tiger Kings to lose. Jaymee announced that the Wild Boars won the challenge and they duly released a cheer. The Wild Boars now got to decide the fighters for the first fight of The Contender Asia. Bruce, from the victorious Wild Boars team then jokingly asked, “Who wants to go home?”
The Decision-Making

The Wild Boars headed back into the training area to make their decision. With no one really eager to fight first, there was a long silence in the room before Naruepol finally volunteered to fight first. He said in his interview that he wanted to be the first one to enter the ring. Naruepol said he wanted to fight against Trevor and the team joke that they should send him back to his new wife. Bruce felt that Wayne should be sent out in a strategic move to get rid of the best. He said that they thought he was the strongest; he had a problem with his weight and would be easy to eliminate. David agreed with Bruce’s strategy. Rafik commented jokingly that if Wayne did not lose weight he would die in the ring. David also brought up Zach who being injured would be easy to eliminate. They all seemed to agree that they should take advantage of the situation with Zach.

Back with the Tiger Kings who has retired to the loft, Wayne tried to boost morale by saying, “it doesn’t matter what happened in the race, what was going to happen in the ring was much more important.” In his interview he explained that in the loft, it was very nerve wrecking due to having to wait for the decision. Wayne joked, in an attempt to lighten the mood that perhaps he should have been nicer to Rafik. He believed that they were going to choose him to fight due to his weight problem. Zach added that it would be horrible if they chose him right now, due to his injury. In his interview, Soren took the blame for tripping Zach and felt very bad about it and he was hoping that the Boars would not choose Zach. Trevor thought that they might pick one of their less experienced men in the Tiger King’s team.
In the Wild Boar’s room, due to the language barrier with Naruepol, the team went to the wall with the pictures of all the contenders where Naruepol pointed out the contender he wanted to fight against. He believed that the opponent he chose was not so strong and hence it would be an easy win. The entire team agreed with his decision, which had not been revealed to the audience as yet.

The Decision

The two teams met Stephen and Jaymee in the training area where the decision was to be announced. Naruepol stepped out as the representative of the Wild Boars and pointed at his opponent, Trevor from the Tiger Kings. In his interview, Naruepol said that he was not worried about Trevor because he was not better than him in Muay Thai. Trevor comments that he feels good about his decision but it will be one of his greatest challenges as his opponent was Thai and that the reality was that they were known to be the best. However he also adds that, ‘they’re human.’ Sean comically comments that it would be good if Trevor loses so that he could go back to his honeymoon and everyone will be happy.

The Confrontation with the Blues

In the Wild Boar’s room Rafik started to reveal his true colours as the group settled down around the room. He starts of by telling Sean that Yodsaenklai had explicitly told him that he wanted to fight with the “Scottish guy”. As this has been brought out of the blue, raised eyebrows were exchanged around the room. Bruce questioned him, “Are you sure he said that?” Rafik continued to stick by his story, by saying, “If it wasn’t true, I wouldn’t bring it up.”

When Rafik left the room, everyone exclaimed that Rafik’s story seemed to have been boiled out of thin air. Bruce commented that Rafik might be playing some sort of psychological game and not to trust him till what Yodsaenklai said actually came true. David believed that Rafik was attempting to manipulate. Bruce believed it was perhaps his strategy to get one of his teammates take out the stronger fighter first so that Rafik would not have to deal with it. Sean, confused with this sudden twist of events, decided not to take Rafik’s words to heart. There seemed to be a lack of trust among the Wild Boar’s with regards to their leader.

Dinner Time

For dinner before the fight, both teams had their meals together. Naruepol attempted to analyze Trevor at the dinner table. However he commented that though he saw no fear in Trevor, he had to have some fear as he was competing against a Thai boxer. Trevor on the other hand, said in his interview that he did not like to waste any mental energy before the fight though he was a little worried by Naruepol.

Trevor had a chat with Wayne to gain some advice from the experience that he has had. Wayne suggested, “…to move around and use the space… deliver shots and get out.” Wayne then promised to be in Trevor’s corner during the match. Trevor was elated that Wayne had agreed to help due to his experience in Muay Thai and also due to the fact that Wayne was one of his role models. They shared a hug, before getting ready for the fight.

30 minutes to fight

We first saw Trevor preparing in his room with Wayne. He said he wanted to win this fight because he did not want to return home empty handed to his new wife. Stephen gave him some last words of encouragement before placing the mongkok on his head.

In the Wild Boar’s room, Naruepol explained that he was fighting for his mother who had been so hardworking all her life. He said that if he lost he would be ashamed and would not dare face anyone for a long time. Stephen told him to win it for Thailand and wished him good luck while he placed the mongkok on his head. “I must complete my duty,” he said.

The Fight

Trevor entered the arena to a cheering audience first before Naruepol came out flanked by his teammates. In the ring, they performed the Wai Khru; an ancient Thai dance that was performed before warriors entered the field of battle. Today, the Wai Khru as Stephen put it was a very grood way to warm up before a fight. Both fighters said a short prayer in their corners before the match start. At the sound of the bell, the punches started to fly thick and fast.

1st Round

Trevor threw in the first few punches as Naruepol went right to work with his flying kicks. At the end of the round, it seemed as tho Trevor had managed to throw in more than Naruepol had and this sent the Tiger Kings into ecstacy over Trevor’s early gain in the fight. An upset on the cards perhaps?

2nd Round

Wayne continued to encourage Trevor by telling him he was doing a good job and reminded him to watch his opponent’s hands. When the match starts, within seconds, Naruepol threw Trevor to the floor. This affected Trevor, as he lost his momentum from the first round. Right then, Naruepol threw a high kick aimed for Trevor’s face, which Trevor just managed to partially block. They get stuck in a huddle and Naruepol managed to throw in more elbows into Trevor’s torso. Trevor kicked, missed and fell to the ground. At the end of this round, Naruepol had managed to take the lead by gaining more points with a host of punches to Trevor’s face and body. As Trevor began to look resigned, Wayne continued to encourage him by telling him to further “pressure” his opponent. At the same time Naruepol was told to concentrate on his kicks, by his trainer.

3rd Round

Naruepol was able to get a few early kicks in and we heard Wayne shouting, “Pressure! Pressure! Pressure!” from the outside. Naruepol managed to throw him to the ground yet again. Getting stuck in another huddle, Naruepol almost topples Trevor once again. Soon after, he does successfully do so towards the end of the round. At this point in time, though Trevor put on a brave fight, he seemed frustrated at his inability to match Naruepol’s vigour. By this point, even Naruepol’s trainer tells him that he should “feel sorry for him (Trevor),” as he has already more or less won the match.

4th round,

As we moved into the 4th and final round, it was rather obvious that Naruepol had taken an obvious edge over Trevor, despite Trevor’s efforts in the first round. Wayne tells Trevor to not let himself fall into Naruepol’s game and to instead focus on his own. James, from the audience, shouted out to Trevor to “kill him in this round.”As the round progressed, the competitors got stuck in even fiercer huddles as the crowd cheered enthusiastically. Naruepol tried to topple Trevor again and once almost threw Trevor into the audience. Things continued to remain bleak for Trevor as Wayne shouted “Pressure!” from the audience. He threw wild punches but missed by some margin. Towards the end of the match, Trevor began to look well and truly resigned as Naruepol threw in several kicks as Trevor backed away with no fight left in him.

The match ends with the audience cheering on for Naruepol, who knew that he had won the match. Finally, it was announced, “The winner of the match is from the blue corner…” Cheers ensue for Naruepol, as Trevor quietly backed into his corner.

In the interviews, Naruepol exclaimed that he was extremely happy that he was the first to win in this competition. He felt sorry for Trevor although he commended his spirit in putting up a strong fight against him.

A well and truly beaten Trevor explained that he tried his best but his biggest mistake was “playing Naruepol’s game.” However he was happy that he had Wayne in his corner. Although he really wanted to win for him, he said he did not have any regrets.

In a very sentimental moment, he hung his mongkok on the wall of his changing room and left. Before he left, he took one last look at the ring, longingly. He’s parting words were, “I am disappointed I didn’t mange to achieve what I wanted to.”

Vrede KO1 Shocks Rosario

20 Jan

by (2008-01-20)

The young Dutch Muaythai sensation Ginty Vrede exploded onto the WBC MUAYTHAI titles scene with a stunning first round KO of world champion Shane “Rocky” Del Rosario at the Las Vegas Hilton Casino Hotel.
It was Rocky’s first defense of his prestigious WBC heavyweight title after his second round KO win over reigning International Champion Ricardo Van de Bos in Los Angeles last September.
Vrede is trained by Colin Oyama who has produced many European world champion fighters in both Muaythai and MMA.
Rocky Rosario had energized the heavyweight division with his youth and devastating power in both his punches and kicks. But he had little time to get started before Vrede landed a superb head high kick to his head.
Vrede has made a habit of knocking out all comers and boasts a 100% rate. He is now being compared to the K1 superstar Remy Bojansky.
Although Vrede barely raised a sweat before delivering his head high KO he is known for his lightening low kicks delivered with immaculate timing and precision. He also has a reputation for his hard right hand punches and powerful knee strikes.
While Rocky started firm favourite in front of his fans in Las Vegas, Vrede showed no signs of any travel fatigue and went about his ring biz in a thoroughly professional manner – and left his opponent tasting the canvas.


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