Wednesday, September 25, 2013

No Holds Barred: John Perretti on Ethics, Combat Sports, Injuries, and Weightlifting

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with the ex-pugilist, lifelong martial artist, former UFC and Battlecade Extreme Fighting matchmaker, TV commentator, and our senior correspondent, John Perretti.

Following up on our previous episode of No Holds Barred with Stephan Kesting of Grapplearts, on MMA, brain damage, concussions, and CTE, we continued to explore these issues. We began with the ethical considerations about participating in and supporting combat sports with striking, where head injuries and brain trauma are necessary results of way those sports are conducted.

We spoke with John Perretti by phone Monday.

"I can keep it short and simple: If you get hit, you get hurt," he said. "And that's not a belief. That's not something that is just beloved of me. That's a fact."

He stated, as he has said before, that he is no longer interested in watching fighters "getting battered," even though he was one of the founders of modern MMA, came up with the basic framework of rounds, gloves, and weight classes used today, and even was using the term "mixed martial arts" as far back as the 1970s.

While he does watch some boxing and other dangerous sports like American football at times, he has lost interest in MMA.

"I just do not care to watch that anymore," he said. MMA, he added, with the growing emphasis on striking both standing and on the ground, has become "a lot more dangerous than it was" when many of us had argued that MMA was safer than boxing. And the main appeal of MMA these days, especially in the U.S., he said, is to those who are "attracted to the violence." It is turning more into a cult or even a "religion," he added.

In fact, partially due to his influence, his two teenage sons, Lucca and Enzo Perretti, no longer train in martial arts or play football, but instead focus on Olympic weightlifting. Both are among the top-ranked weightlifters in the U.S. in their age groups and weight classes.

Although weightlifting is widely practiced and respected, the Olympic weightlifting program is far from reaching its potential as a popular sport.

"Olympic weightlifting is really something that has been neglected," he said. While other sports are plagued with injuries about which we are understanding more and more each day, he said that according to medical studies, Olympic weightlifting has "the lowest injury rate of any sport in the United States of America."

Besides discussing the future of Olympic weightlifting in the U.S. and what it needs to do to popularize itself (hint: look at wrestling's continued failures), we discussed the potential for various styles of grappling and wrestling to grow, what the future holds for combat sports where there is head trauma, why he does not like to watch martial arts films, the great dangers to kids training in MMA, and much, much more.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link doesn't work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is also available on mobile phones and iPads through Stitcher.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is free to listen to and is sponsored by:

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