The Gladiators Conquest

June 25, 2006 Brooklyn, New York

 In The Strike-Zone



 Photos by   Felix Ozertsovski & Nikolai Komissarov

written by Terri Cotta

Well fight fans,  what can I say, this event turned out to be spectacular, with plenty of  the region's well known Muay Thai faces in the house, and some excellent Muay Thai Bouts. Strike Zone really did well on the night and tried very well to bring back to New York, Muay Thai the good old fashioned way, with hard work and dedication. Alex Yus of Strike Zone is an example of what promoters of Muay Thai events should be. Well at least in New York, but then I’m a little biased so don’t just take my word. Next time go see for yourself and support the sport. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Then again, don’t just take my word for it

A lot of work went in to promoting this event; people were working through the night on occasions, some pulling double shifts. But it looked like it came together like a fine jigsaw puzzle. My hat must be raised to the Officials of the event, the AMTJRA  (American Muay Thai Judge & Referee Association) and the USMTA. Without them the event would not have been the same. I have been told that they are a pretty tough bunch of people to play with, but  I think this is what the sport needs. A group that can function together,  a group that can’t be bribed, pushed around or intimidated. They made it look easy. But from what I hear from trainers and fighters who have worked with them before, they just make it look that way.  Well done guys, you all know who you are. Your efforts may go unnoticed by the audience and others,  but not to the fighters and to those who really know.

OK, let’s get to the venue. The Atlanica Oceana Restaurant & Club in Brooklyn New York, a venue not new for providing a facility to host Muay Thai and Boxing events.A  great big hand  must  go out to all the  sponsors of the event  KTU 103.5fm, One of my favorite radio stations,  Baltika Beer of Russia’s most  famous European beers,  RTVI Russian  television International and to Russian radio BCE 87.7fm.  We know that  there were many more,  but at the time this review was written I did not  have all the information at hand. The  sponsorship was well appreciated by fighters and audience alike.

Commentators and speakers  of the  night were Brooklyn’s  own Kru Luis Maisonet Jr.  of the famous Maisonet's Muay Thai Gym and Shihan Jonas Nunas of  the International Kickboxing Federation of New Jersey, both veterans of  previous Strike events. Entering in to the circle of  speakers for the first time was Kru Phillip Nurse of the Lugsitnarong Thai Boxing Gym.  These guys  rounded  of the  night very well as they roused the audience with bouts of education and rallying participation.
Before I go on,  all  of the  spectators who have been to Strikes events  of the  past  few years will have  noticed an amazing  change in the  young Simon  Yus, the MC of the events. Simon has really  grown up and has developed a talent for  rousing the audience right at the very beginning where  it  counts. His introduction of the fighters into the ring can be compared to the announcements made in K1 events in Japan - with great force and personality  His coaching or training is beginning to  pay off.  Just smooth off  a few of those rough edges and  he will be almost perfect….  Almost…..
Before I begin, I gotta  give the ref a  slap on the  back, Joel Bekker  did a hell of a job despite having a pinched  nerve that was  playing  havoc  with him.  I for one know all about that so I can acknowledge the effects and the discomfort.  His judgment may have been at issue  on several small or mute  points to some,  but  when speaking with him later on these points, his explanations were quite valid from his angle of view.  We all want to be the referee when we are sitting down in our seats looking  up into a ring.
Our angle  of  vision  is  definitely not the same as the referee,  and he can see what we cannot  see or would like to. A tough job when everyone wants to win.  ‘I’ll give you an  simple example’, Place a coin in the center  of the ring, and tell me which side is up,  heads or tails?  Who has a better chance to see this you, the audience sitting in seats looking into the ring or the referee standing in the  ring..?  My bet  is on the referee.
To start the night  was special  guest Mr. Ron Anthony, Those  of you  in the know , will have heard  Ron's voice on  many a sound track by sung by legendary singer  the Late great Luthor Vandross. Well Ron’s  voice was right up there next to him. Ron was one  of  Luthors  backup singers. Ron Anthony, a native of Brooklyn was at the event and gave an inspiring version of the Star Spangled Banner. Brings tears to my  eyes every time  I hear that tune.   If you want to  know more  about  Ron Anthony,  go visit his website at or  better still buy his CD.

OK Fight fans here we go…..


Bout One; first fight of the  night, standing in the Blue Corner  16 year old Konstantin Tkeshelashvili  weighing in at 117 Lb. coming out  of the Professional Club Bars  against  the Red Corner, 16 year old Valentin Ostarchov  weighing118Lb  from  Borodin’s Muay Thai Gym. All  I can say was Nice…!!!  Very  nice..!  A climactic start to the night’s bouts. These two whippets  went  at it  like  there was  no tomorrow. Punches were  flying  kicks were swinging. A great start,  but someone has to win and to the  judges Young Valentin of Borodins Gym laid  claim to that victory.


Bout Two; was to be no exception, as  both fighters looked  like  they wanted to copy bout one, as 130 lb 17 year  Old Niko Tsigaras of  Lions Club  of Brooklyn  fighting  out of the  blue corner  who went  up against the 16 year old 130lb Vlodimir Strelnikov  of  Borodin’s Gym, also for Brooklyn  New York in the red corner. This was a good  fight,  both fighters exchanging knees, and punches, with some nice  kicks thrown in  for good measure. There were several sweet take-downs, clinches  and  kicks which resulted  in another win  for Borodins  Gym.

Bout Three; was  interesting as this was the first of the ‘International Invitational’ fighters of the night who had travelled all the way from Kazakhstan,  Russia.  Fighting out of  the blue corner  21  year old Artyom Zherebnenko who weighed in at 130 Lb. from the Art Boxing  camp.  Artyom was going to pit his skills against  17 year old  138 Lb. Ildar Munnarov  from Lions Club of Brooklyn. The  fight began with  both fighters  testing each  other out.


The  unusual pant like shorts  of Ildar must  have slipped  past the officials who are pretty tight about  Thai shorts  for Muay Thai. Anyway, the fight  got a little strappy when Ildar hustled and  almost  suplexed Artyom to the  ground. This caused Artyom’s coach to begin to raise his voice a slight octave.  In Muay Thai  hip twists  and  twist take-downs are  part of the  game. After several more times  of  lying  on the canvas, a  few good  punches and well landed kicks it was Iidar who took the  point, with a  win  for the Lions Club  of  Brooklyn.
Bout Four; was one  of those fights that you had an idea was  going to be  good, but then if you  have  ever seen  young Turan Hasanov fight,  then it goes without saying. I have  been  watching Turan for  several years and have seen a remarkable  growing up in  him. Tonight  young Turan was fighting out of the  red corner against  a student  of another  great  Kru, Master K of New Jersey.  His  fighter was 119lb  Leander Igot fighting  out  of the blue corner.     Turan “The Tornado” Hasanov  of the  Strike Zone camp always  produces a nice rendition  of the  Ram Muay which draws the crowds  applause. Turan  does  not  look  like the  snapping turtle that he is, but once he steps into the ring….
Turan he  put a  pounding  on Leander, who  I feel also under estimated Turan for  his  clean  boyish  looks and slight build. Leander  got  pummeled around the  ring making the  referee Joel  Bekker work for his  pay. Leander  found  out  why Turan was  called Tornado…  Leander  fought  back gallantly with  kicks and  punches and  began to  tie up  Turan in  clinches, but  it was  to no avail, Turans flurry of  punches kept  Leander on the  turn  and  on the  ropes defending  his self  from Turnan’s  onslaught. In the end  Brooklyn's  own Tornado took the prize with an outstanding win.
Bout  Five; looked to be as exciting as the  last  bout with fighter 21 year old Ruslan Bukharin  weighing in at 155 Lb., from Art Studio  fighting  in the  Blue Corner against Strike Zones 20 year  old  Jaison Alvarado weighing in at 150 Lb. What a fight this was,  both  fighters right from the get  go really  went at it, making the audience shout for more. This pair of  tough bulldogs would not budge an inch and pummeled each other none stop. In the  last seconds of second round the  fight  got  more exciting as clashes and  tumbles to the canvas began to leave their marks.

Kicks and  punches flew all around when one landed right  above  Jaisons right eyebrow, which opened it up.  The referee rightly so, brought Jaison to the ring docs to check the cut and  on their advise the  bout was stopped.  On asking the ring doctors why the bout was stopped  he stated, “The safety  of the fighter is priority on all  USMTA sanctioned events and this  is no exception, I felt that even if Jaisons corner men may have  been able to  stop the  bleeding, but the  cut was too deep in my  opinion and another  punch would  have split the cut  deeper causing  more unnecessary damage. I take full responsibility in this judgment.”   Referee Joel Bekker declared the  bout a technical win  for Rusaln Bukharin or (Cut Stopped The Fight). Still a great fight  and no  doubt  we will see these two  bulldogs clash again in the  future.

Bout Six;  Now this was  between the big dogs in the  house with  Ultimate Gyms  Heavyweight 210lb Zadie Morris fighting  out  of the blue corner  against   Heavyweight  21 year old  Uri Posochov  also weighing in at 210 Lb from  Borodin’s Gym. The war  began as  both  tanks  came at each other not wasting  anytime. Zadie,  fresh from his  win of the USMTA  Inter-State Heavyweight championship  was not about  to discredit  his title, even if it was  not  on the line.  Both Zadie and Uri growled at each other and traded  punch for  punch,  pound  for  pound,  kick  for  kick. 
 In the second  round  Zadie  looked  like  he was  just edging ahead,  when a swift blow by  him produced a  cut  to  Uri’s  forehead.  This did not slow down the two goliaths, who still went at it only stopping to take a breath. The  Ring Medic checked out the cut and said it was good to go. Round three began with these two giants thundering and pounding each other, but Uri’s cut seemed to have a psychological effect on him, where he seemed to back up more than attack.  A move the judges must have surely  noticed. T

he end results speak for themselves, Zadie was triumphant but  I feel it could  have easily  gone the  other way just as quickly. A rematch with these two for a possible USMTA State Title could be on the  line.

A fifteen minute intermission  came  just  in time for  most  of  us ready  to  sample  the ice cold  Baltica beer and  food  and  lots of other goodies on sale at the event.  I got to give a quick mention of the  nights Disk Jockey, DJ  Johnny Versace or  DJ JV for  short,  was playing tracks that were rock on Man!   He was  pretty good with  some  novel hip and slick fighter entry themes.
 Back to the  fights….  

The  next  bouts  were supposed to  be  part  of the  Inter-State Team Championship Cup series, between New York and California, but due to several unforeseen circumstances beyond  the control  of the promoters, several scheduled fighters from  both sides were unable to make the final teams due to injuries and  other  unfortunate things. Both  California and  New York  teams will battle  it out later, maybe in August or September for the Inter-State Team Championship Cup. One bout on the nights card was to be between France and  the U.S. in the  first  of the  ladies Inter-Nations Championship belts. This bout was to be between North American Champion  Keri Taylor from California’s World Team Muay Thai and  French Fighter Alicia Sarahoui from Paris France’. This will be  placed on  hold  until a later date.

 Bout Seven; between  19 year  old  Ky Hollenbeck  weighing  in at 135 Lb.  Ky was part  of  Team Muay Thai USA, San Francisco, California in the blue corner competing against  Oleg Jerebnenko  who weighed in at 135 Lb.,  from the Art Studio of Brooklyn for Team Muay Thai - New York in the red corner.  Team Muay Thai USA  of San  Francisco, California captained  by Kru Sam Phimsoutham of  World Team Muay Thai from SF  has some  excellent  fighters and  it is always a pleasure to have  our West  coast  brethren come  visit us.

 Ky  and  Oleg put  on a great  fight bringing  many spectators to their feet cheering on the fighters. Both fighter countered  each  other  with  roundhouse kicks and  flurries  of  punches. The got to grips in some tough clinches.  This  bout  was as good as some  of the top  TV bouts  I’ve seen.  Ky began  to press on Oleg who began to struggle to regain a  foothold. Coming to round three was excellent and a strong round for Kys who’s  youth and stamina began to take a toll on Oleg.  In the end  it was the Ky Hollenbeck  of San Francisco that took the reign on a great bout.

Bout Eight; between 22 Year old and 150 Lb. Phillip Colbert  standing in the blue corner   from Sinlapa Muay Thai Camp from San Antonio,  Texas against well known fighter 25 year  old 155lb, Mark “The Hyena”  Beecher fighting in the red corner  under  Maisonet’s Muay Thai camp  banner of  New York. This fight was expected to be a great fight, and  it was. Both fighters clashed together like battling  ‘mountain rams’, you know the type, the rams that bash each other horns  together. Well when Phillip and Mark locked horns  there was no stopping them.  Both fighter produced  great  kicks great  blocking  techniques and  great clinches and  knees.
They punched and  boxed themselves around the  ring and  made the audience scream and shout their approval. It was an exciting bout, both fighters were still fresh and looking like the could go another set. Into the second round, mark began to show the advantage but Phillip held  on like a  bulldog. The third  round began to show  the Hyena’s skill and technical combinations with  sets of  kicks and  punches, that began  to  make the  Lone star State backup and  protect  himself, but  he held on. In the end the as all ways, there is a winner and the Empire State took the flag from this  great battle.  The Hyena took the field.

Bout Nine;  Another great  bout was  expected from these two fighters. In the blue Corner Vishnu Gulati 140 Lb, 20 year old from Kru Sam’s California Team USA Muay Thai who was ready to do battle against New Yorker 140lb Miguel Rivera fighting out of Maisonet’s Muay Thai camp. Let’s say that if this bout was to end like it started, then what a great bout it was going to be.  Both came out of their corners ready to battle like true warriors.  Flying fists and  feet made the audience feel like they were in Thailand.


 Just when the fight was getting into it’s stride, Vishnu put Miguel into a clinch and was about to hip twist  him to the canvas, when  they both fall onto the ropes and in true Muay Thai style, that I have  not seen  since I was last  in Bangkok Thailand.  The fighters began to topple over the  top rope. Miguel, feet in the air went over the  top rope and on to the canvas edge, then  on to  the  judges table before falling between the table and the ring.
All hands tried to stop the fall, but were unable Miguel’s right ankle slammed against the center metal support  of the ring as he  collapsed to the ground unable to grab onto anything with the  gloves on. . Miguel tried to stand  but  was unable to and had to  have a cold  pack  put on the ankle by the medic to bring the swelling down.
Angered by the topple Miguel showed  his disgust with himself, and  not with Vishnu who had quickly come over to help  his  opponent. Miguel made  it  back into the  ring by his team, and the ref, rightly so declared the bout a ‘No contest’ Vishnu assisted  Miguel  out of the  ring  in true  sportsmanship and to the applause of the  audience. We all hope to see these two fighters battle it  out one more  time just to see the what the final results would  have been.
Bout Ten. Was the  last and  most anticipated bout  of the  night  with  local boy and favorite  fighting out of the red corner 19 year old  USKBA World Champion, Dima Shirganov weighing in at 165 Lb.  from Borodin’s Gym.  His opponent  in the blue corner, 24 years old and also weighing in at 165 Lb, was Jonathan Camara all the way from Paris, France. Johnathan who trains  out  of the Fight Boxing Athismos Gym in Paris, was the first  of the ‘International  invitational’  to come and compete for a championship title.  Both Dimi and Camara were  fighting  in the  first  of the USMTA’s  Inter-Nations Championship Belts of 2006.

The anticipation hung in the air around the ring, like the smoke that was  belching from the fog machine sending up clouds  of white smoke, as the fighters entered the ring. This was one of the  most  evenly matched  bouts with each fighters build and fighting techniques balancing out  the other. Jonathan who was  slim, tall and dark and Dimi  with his fair hair, steel blue eyes and  strong build. Dimi  with his  powerful punches and  low kicks and Jonathan Camara with his long reach and strong high kicks.


Camara’s  long  legs and reach kept  Dimi at bay most  of the round, making it  difficult for  him to get  in and connect.  Where as Camara was gaining  points  using the  ring and  his  reach to his advantage. Both fighters  did get into clinches and threw strong knees at each  other. It was in the second round that Dimi felt the  power  of the  Frenchman’s  punch as  a  beautiful punch almost sent Dimi toppling to the canvas.

He managed to stop from going all the way down and the  referee seeing this allowed  him to get up and  continue. Camara, took advantage of this  and  came into pummel Dimi who  blocked well and escaped by the bell. However  the  judges had seen the point gained by the  Frenchman, and  it was struggle for  Dimi to gain back that much needed point. He fought hard and valiant. But it was to no avail,  Camara stayed  his ground  and kept up the pressure and  kept out of the way.

In the  end  the First  of the USMTA’s  Inter-Nation Champions was crowned. Paris, France had a new champion.Our hats  go off to both fighters who did an excellent job, well fought but with a sad ending for the  local crowd, who were hoping for a new champion in the neighborhood. Camara was the  perfect gentleman, as  he congratulated Dimi on a great fight.
We will see Johnathan Camara very soon as  he will have to defend the  belt  in the  near future. A re-match could  be  in the making…. All in all, this was a great event, very smooth, clean and exciting. Strike did a great job, the  AMTJRA and the USMTA  did a great job, the team were as always innovative to say the  least and exacting to state a point.

 The  ‘Midnight Crew’  who put  up the ring, and took it down!  You guys you were great, without you there would be no fights.  The  sponsors, KTU 103.5fm,  Baltika Beer,  RTVI and  radio BCE 87.7fm. What can I say, they really came through for Strike and we hope to see them sponsor again.   Congratulations  to everyone, We look forward to seeing you again in the  next Strike-Zone..     This Terri Cotta signing  off…….   Nuff said!!


Copyright © 2006  USMTA Inc.   All rights reserved. Revised: June25, 2006