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What goes 'round comes 'round

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Even if it takes a few centuries or so. They were the gladiators, those whom you have seen on the silver screen with the help of Spartacus (Kirk Douglas), Barabbas (Anthony Quinn), Gladiator (Russell Crowe), Demetrius and the Gladiators (Victor Mature) and many others. They were not as glamorous or heroic as depicted. To the contrary, they were usually recruited from criminals, slaves (captured fugitives) and other categories that were tossed on the dung heaps of their various societies. They were the unwanted, prepared to die or gain some glory by killing others, repute and acclaim that might lead to their freedom.


Russell Crowe as the Gladiator.
In fact, they fought for Nero in 63 AD but it was all truly initiated in 310 BCE by the Campanians' military success over the Samnites...when they were aided by the Romans. The Romans seized upon this to create the first Roman gladiatorial games in 246 BCE.

It was not the brainchild of the UFC, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, nor the MMA, Mixed Martial Arts. Hardly. And the arenas where men fought to the death before Roman emperors and zealous crowds with nothing better to do, were slightly larger than the cages and rings where the "gladiators" of today find themselves on a weekly basis. The crowds are the same, having changed only from togas to jeans. And, there are no thumbs down, only middle digits pointing skyward at any disagreement with another fan or the combatants themselves.

As far as referring to any of this as "martial arts," that is the same as calling applicants for American Idol and America's Got Talent the next Streisand, Whitney Houston of Celine Dion. Not even an Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel or Neil Diamond hiding in the folds of the next curtain before it goes up. Some rare exceptions with talent? Of course, but there is no Maximus Decimus Meridias, the real life character portrayed by Crowe, waiting in the dressing room. No Emperor Commodus for "The Spaniard" to slay.

These men are street bullies in presumably great shape, and with nothing else to do but bludgeon one another into submission to the utter delight of the same people that fill theaters to see every version of "Friday, The 13th" and think that Jason will soon show up to enter the cage. They would love that, saw and all. Not about to happen but don't bet against it.

What aspects of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan does one see when rushing off to Vegas or, if that is not affordable, to the tube to watch two men, and now two women on more than an occasional instance, beat the hell out of each other in any way that they can, absent swords or tigers let loose while they fight?

Welcome to the latest version of civilization.

You cannot possibly call this entertainment. It would be like watching a pyromaniac set fire to a home or forest and enjoy it. If it pleases you then Shirley MacLaine was right and you did live at another time, likely during the Spanish Inquisition.

It is not boxing, not wrestling, certainly not any sort of combative art form and derides the notion that it is actually within the definition of martial arts. What you see is hand to hand combat that is evident on any street corner of a neighborhood where gangs are attempting to determine alleged territorial rights. Winner take all and loser to the emergency ward of the nearest hospital.

Mixed Martial Arts?!?! It is mixed alright. It is mixed with mayhem and a complete disregard for anything other than maiming your opponent and doing all that you can to pound him, or her, into the canvas and onto a stretcher. Rules? What rules? No guns, knives, hand grenades or brass knuckles. The way they fight, you not only need iron-clad protection of the nether regions to compete, you need it to keep from losing your manhood after one swift kick or grab that does not have "love" and hope for a dinner date accompanying it.

OK, you are a fan. Congratulations. Do not tell me, however, that this is classic combat when it is "kill or be killed." It is alien meets predator, and no holds barred. No redeeming value need apply. Gladiators of the Roman Empire they are not. Russell Crowe a/k/a Maximus Decimus ("The Spaniard") they are not.

No doubt there are fans out there that will take umbrage with my view of what they call "sport." However, sport it is not!! And, it makes street fighting, without guns, look like a minor disagreement.

Gladiators, as we think of them, thanks to the movies we have seen and absent personal Colosseum "box seats" knowledge? Nope. If this is the best you can do for pleasure, an evening out with the better half or, perish the thought, the kids or a few hours on pay per view to while away the time, you gotta be kidding!