Battleground State: The Fight to Legalize MMA in New York (Part 5)

The Pundit

Bert Sugar is one of the world’s foremost authorities on boxing. A member of the Boxing Hall of Fame, Sugar has written over 60 books, including some on boxing; has edited The Ring, Boxing Illustrated and Fight Game magazines, and was named “The Greatest Boxing Writer of the 20th Century” by the International Veterans Boxing Association. The quick-witted and sharp-tongued Sugar, known as much for his one-liners as for his trademark fedora and cigar, has some strong opinions about MMA, but still thinks it should be legalized.

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Battleground State: The Fight to Legalize MMA in New York (Part 4)

The Politician

In Ratner’s eyes, the man holding the people of New York hostage is State Assemblyman Bob Reilly, a Democrat from Colonie. Reilly has been a steadfast opponent of legalizing MMA in New York and believes it is his responsibility to make sure MMA remains an illegal, outlaw sport. “First and foremost, it is a violent sport,” said Reilly. “It’s like pornography. Like the Supreme Court says, you know it when you see it. For example, I watched an event recently because I felt obligated to. One fellow was sitting on another’s chest and hit him in the head at least 14 times.”

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Battleground State: The Fight to Legalize MMA in New York (Part 3)

The Lobbyist

Marc Ratner spent 21 years with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, including 14 as its executive director. In the mid-1990s, when MMA was in its infancy, Ratner spoke out against it, saying that it would never be allowed in Las Vegas. In 2006, however, Ratner accepted a job with the UFC as its vice president of regulatory affairs. “I had the best regulatory job in the world,” said Ratner. “But what intrigued me about the UFC was that it was a brand new sport. I wanted to be on the ground floor, to be a pioneer and try to get it legalized. You can’t do that in basketball or boxing, since those sports have been around so long.”

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Battleground State: The Fight to Legalize MMA in New York (Part 2)

The Evolution

In many ways, the biggest knockout punch in MMA history didn’t come from Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, or any other of the sport’s biggest names, but from a United States senator. In 1996, Senator John McCain condemned the sport as “human cock-fighting” and sent letters to all 50 governors, urging them to ban MMA events in their states. McCain’s plea worked to a considerable degree as 36 states enacted bans, and the UFC nearly went out of business. However, in a 2007 interview with National Public Radio, McCain changed his tune, offering reserved praise for MMA. “They have cleaned up the sport to the point, at least in my view, where it is not human cockfighting any more. I think they’ve made significant progress. They haven’t made me a fan, but they have made progress,” said McCain.

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Battleground State: The Fight to Legalize MMA in New York (Part 1)

It’s a frigid February evening in New York City, and yet scores of fans have braved the cold weather to gather at the midtown Manhattan Hooters bar in order to watch the latest Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) pay-per-view event entitled “UFC 109: Relentless.” Indeed, it’s so cold that most of the waitresses wear long-sleeved shirts instead of their usual tank-tops.

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Do the Evolution – A Concert Review of Pearl Jam at MSG

Concert Review:

Pearl Jam

May 21, 2010

Madison Square Garden

It certainly seems as if Pearl Jam have mellowed in recent years. They’ve started making videos again. They’ve aligned themselves with the likes of Target, iTunes, and even the makers of Rock Band. Heck, I bought my ticket through Ticketmaster, the big, evil, corporate monster (that could get even bigger after their proposed merger with Live Nation) that Pearl Jam once accused of being a monopoly.

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Back to the Future – A Concert Review of U2 at MSG.

Concert Review:

U2

October 14, 2005

Madison Square Garden

It’s hard being serious all the time.

U2 realized that in 1988 after critics savaged their concert film “Rattle & Hum,” accusing the band of being pretentious and over-indulgent. It wasn’t their outspoken political views that got them in trouble. In fact one of the high points of the film was the band’s emotional performance of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” that took place hours after the Remembrance Day Bombing that killed 11 in Northern Ireland on November 8, 1987. Bono launched into an emotional rant during the middle of the song condemning the bombing and yelling “F— the revolution!”

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The Happy Land Fire – 20 Years Later

For related audio slideshow, click here.

BRONX — Every year at the end of March, Maria Romero makes her annual pilgrimage to the site of the Happy Land memorial, a vermilion marble obelisk at Southern Blvd and E. Tremont Ave in the Bronx. She uses her key to unlock the gate around the monument, and sweeps up the leaves and debris that have accumulated in the last year. She wants it to look nice for the memorial service, which takes place every year at the nearby St. Thomas Aquinas Church.

Hanging off the side of the fence is a large white sign listing the names of the 87 people who perished in the Happy Land Social Club fire on March 25, 1990. They fill four columns. The fourth name on the third column is that of Isabel Lopez, Romero’s daughter. She was 17 years old.

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There Will Be Cleavage – A Review of Rob Marshall’s “Nine”

Guido Contini is a legendary and groundbreaking Italian director who has grand plans for an epic film about his beloved homeland. The only problem is he doesn’t have a script. So, he does what any good director would do. He builds grand sets, commissions fancy costumes, runs up a huge budget, and casts big-name stars. Script? Who needs a script? The movie will write itself.

Unfortunately, in the case of Nine, the latest film from director Rob Marshall, life imitated art a little too well.

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AIDS Group Finds Alternative Means of Educating Hondurans

It’s Saturday morning, and four small children are taking free art classes inside an unmarked Bronx brownstone in Morrisania. Nine-year-old Dell Thomas is drawing a portrait of his favorite character, Sonic the Hedgehog, that is accurate down to the rings around his wrists and the spikes on his head. The other kids are in awe of Dell’s talent and start to get discouraged with their own work, but their teacher, Rene Moreira, is quick to reassure them.

“You’re all good,” Moreira says to his students. “You’re all unique and have a creative mind.” The students go back to their assignment, drawing with pencil and then coloring with pastels and crayons.

What makes this art class different from the countless other art programs in the city is who runs it, an organization whose name is splashed on a giant banner draped on the wall.

“Hondurans Against AIDS,” it says, in big blue letters with the Honduran flag juxtaposed with a red ribbon.

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Hondurans Protest in Union Square.

A crowd of more than 60 people gathered in Union Square Park on Tuesday in support of the deposed Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, whose recent reentry into the country he once led has touched off violent protests, governmental repression and international tensions.

The rally, organized by the USA Honduras Resistance Coalition in conjunction with several other human rights and Latin-American political groups, took place on a chilly evening with many protesters thankful that a candlelight vigil was on the agenda. Forming a solid wall along the plaza of the park, the protesters were at first content to stand passively, informing passersby of their purpose by holding up their signs and Honduran flags. That changed as they started marching in a large circle while shouting pro-Zelaya slogans and vowing that “the people of Honduras will continue to struggle.”

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Bike Polo: No Horses, No Rules

People often think of polo as a refined sport played by wealthy men on horseback. What happens when you replace the horses with bicycles, you throw out a lot of the rules, and you add some WWE-style showmanship? You get bike polo – a fast-paced and anarchic sport that’s gaining a cult following in the United States. Victor Li reports.

Thanks to Ellen London (Columbia J-School ’10) for the host intro.

UPDATE (3/18/10): There is a pic of me in action at the Hardcourt Bike Polo website. There’s a comment under it about me needing to get off the decaf, which I found to be pretty funny. If s/he only knew how much coffee I went through on any given day…

Doctor K is In.

BRONX, NEW YORK – It’s Saturday, October 3 and Modell’s Sporting Goods store is having its grand reopening in Bay Plaza in the Bronx. There’s a long line out the front door as scores of people are waiting to get in, but they aren’t necessarily here for the free giveaways, special promotions, and big sales. Instead, many of them have braved the pouring rain for one reason only: to meet one of their baseball heroes.

“I came to meet Doc Gooden and get this ball signed,” said Rafael Rodriguez of the Bronx. “And not only that, to thank him for all he’s done for the Yankees. He’s been a great inspiration for these young kids.”

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