A Challenge in Catch Wrestling

Curran Jacobs hoodie

by Eddie Goldman

Whilst perhaps not as magical as watching a child be born and grow, it is nonetheless quite exciting to see the rebirth and development of catch wrestling.

Just this week, when it appeared that things were slowing down a bit as the various catch wrestling organizations were shaping their 2015 schedules, a challenge was issued which lit up this nascent movement.

Curran Jacobs, the former Michigan State Spartans’ wrestling team captain, had entered the world of catch wrestling by scoring a pin over Christopher Crossan of the Snake Pit Wigan on June 7, 2014, in the main event of the Catch Wrestling Alliance International Invitational: The Rebirth, at UCLA in Los Angeles, California. Now he plans to return to action this year, and in a big way.

This week, during an interview on No Holds Barred, he issued a challenge to Travis Newaza, who was victorious at the West Coast King of Catch Wrestling Tournament held January 11, 2015, in San Diego, California.

“I would like to actually call out that gentleman who won that tournament, Travis Newaza, I believe his name is,” he said.

“He is being claimed the King of the West Coast, and I’m on the West Coast.” He added that he was unaware of the January 11 event.

He went on to criticize his performance in that event.

“He’s a good jiu-jitsu guy, but I saw no catch wrestling happening at all.” And he stated that he considered him to be holding a “fake title”.

Following this challenge, various posts on Facebook and Twitter indicated that several people, including veteran catch wrestlers and martial artists Josh Barnett and Erik Paulson, were involved in trying to arrange this match. While thus far no details of when and where this will take place, it does appear that everyone is on board with it, at least in principle.

Early last century, when catch wrestling was still to varying degrees a real sport, it was common for catch wrestlers to issue challenges through the newspapers, usually with promises to put up prize money and have side bets. Today, when the remaining newspapers are generally irrelevant to wrestling, these challenges are made online (and, I am proud to say, through media such as my podcast). But there still is not much money, if any at all, in catch wrestling, a deficit that is likely to change as the sport continues to mature and thrive. Still, it will require some type of formal structure at some point to advance to the next level, a development which will take time, professional leadership, and integrity from all involved.

But wait, there’s more!

Many of the same people who are involved in rebuilding catch wrestling as a legitimate sport are also working with an international project around the sport of combat wrestling. Originated by wrestling legend Noriaki Kiguchi in Japan in the 1990s, in recent years combat wrestling has received less attention, especially as many of its stars have gone into MMA.

Combat wrestling can basically be described as sort of catch wrestling with a point system, or sambo without the jacket (kurtka). The key person involved in this revival is Ivaylo Ivanov, who is originally from Bulgaria but is now based in Mexico.

An international federation has been set up to govern combat wrestling, called the Combat Wrestling International Federation (FICW). Their first world championships have been scheduled for August 22, 2015, in Varna, Bulgaria, with national team trials already slated for Canada, the USA, and Bulgaria, with more to come. For more information, go to http://combatwrestling.org.

So 2015 has already begun with a bang, or a suplex and a pin, if you will, for these revived styles. And we’re not even done with the first month of this new year!

An interview with Curran Jacobs about his challenge can be heard here:

An interview with Ivaylo Ivanov about combat wrestling can be heard here:

(Eddie Goldman is host and producer of the No Holds Barred podcast, at EddieGoldman.com.)

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One thought on “A Challenge in Catch Wrestling

  1. This is exciting stuff. Frank Gotch would be proud. Thanks, Eddie, for your key role in creating interest in this style of wrestling. It is indeed catching on. — Mike Chapman, Iowa

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