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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 08:49 PM
Number of posts: 63,850

Journal Archives

Amendment 1

Perhaps it is too obvious, and thus easily overlooked: the reason the "Founding Fathers" added the Bill of Rights to the U.S, Constitution was to insure that citizens would enjoy specific rights that "government" -- meaning individual and group interests of those in power -- might otherwise seek to deny them.

The most important of these rights, in my opinion, are those found in Amendment 1. These rights are not always popular when exercised. More, there have long been limitations on some of them. For example, citizens do have the right to gather in public to air their disagreements with government policy. But, as the landmark case, decided by the US Supreme Court regarding Martin Luther King, Jr., in Birmingham, that right is not absolute.

In recent history, beginning with the Kennedy administration during the final preparations for the foolish Bay of Pigs invasion, there has been tension between the executive branch and the press. Such tensions have also been found in the legislative and the judicial branch, in relations with the press. But, by their very natures, it has always been and will always be the executive branch that has the greater agenda to "control" the media -- either by creating a cozy relationship, or by way of seeking to restrict a free press.

Anyone old enough to have lived through the Nixon era, with its "enemies list" that included several journalists, should know this. And anyone born later, who cares about the Bill of Rights, should invest the time to learn about that toxic time.

The media is not the same today, as it was 40 or 50 years ago. Clearly, there is a corporate media today, that tends to spoonfeed some accurate information, along with heaping amounts of misinformation and disinformation, to an often unsuspecting public. Still, the media of yesteryear was not often as cutting edge as many recall it as being. The truth about Woodward and Bertsein, for example, was far different than the quasi-mythological "All the President's Men."

There were wonderful "underground" newspapers then, and some outrageously good radio shows. "Laugh-In" was often more on target than the 6 o'clock news. But today, we have the internet, something the hippies and YIPPIES! couldn't have dreamed of.
A free press can only be as good -- and free -- as citizens make it. And that includes the realatively minor internet discussion sites, such as the Democratic Underground, as well as blogs by hundreds of grass roots activists.

A big part of making the media -- both corporate and social -- of value, and to infuse the power that Amendment 1 intends, is to always question each and every government infringement on the press. It is easy for the people here to be angered by a Nixon or a Cheney when they attempt to control or restrict the media -- as it well should be. But we do have a responsibility to question those democratic administrations -- even if we really like a President Clinton or a President Obama -- when their administrations engage in actions that could threaten any part of that Bill of Rights.

Too often, if the rabid republicans, who are the lowest life form on earth, are for something, good and sincere Democrats are automatically against it; or, if those rabid republicans are against something, good and sincere Democrats are for it. This type of reaction can, at times, keep us from thinking for ourselves. And the truth is that while both Clinton and Obama are good men, and certainly far better presidents than Bush et al, they are not perfect. Indeed, the very office they hold requires that U.S. Presidents advocate for corporate interests, which includes that military-industrial complex.

If our nation is ever to regain its status as a Constitutional Democracy (and those who will argue that we were never a democracy, but rather a republic can only argue, because they are too misinformed to speak rationally), it will only be because citizens exercise the muscles found in that Bill of Rights -- and I'm definitely not including old #2.

Always question the government. Anyone who fails to do so not only betrays themselves, they betray everyone else.

Peace,
H2O Man

To Have or To Be

"It's no exaggeration to say that the foundations of today's Europe were forged in the events of the late Ice Age, between about forty-five thousand and twelve thousand years ago."
-- Brian Fagan; Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans; Bloomberyy; 2010; page 3.


I'm sitting on a balcony, overlooking the beach and ocean while on a rare vacation in Virginia Beach. My old bones are aching, so while my wife & daughters are out being tourists, I am in the hotel room ....reading Fagan's book, The Essential Fromm (Continuum; 1993), and attempting to finish my latest book on the environment. Spiral notebooks, newspaper clippings, EPA reports, and the transcripts of two federal court cases I participated in are scattered on the table beside me. My youngest daughter left her computer in this suite, to allow me internet access while she is touristing.

"Cro-Magnon" is perhaps an outdated term: these people were fully "modern humans." The author makes interesting, though speculative, theories on how these people may have interacted with the other human group in Europe, the Neanderthal. He believes that there was sporadic, though relatively limited, contact between the two. And he bases his theories on the interpretations of the latest scientific discoveries -- at least from three years ago, though new technologies are always adding to what we know.

I find one of his basic concepts fascinating: while Cro-Magnon peoples had friendly relationships with others of their own type, including "strangers" they had not encountered before, they likely viewed the Neanderthals as "others" -- of lesser status than themselves. And he may, to a large degree, be correct. That dynamic is certainly common throughout modern human history.

Last week, I went out "arrowhead hunting." There were two people that I didn't recognize in the fields where I went. I attempted to strike up a casual conversation with them, but they were not interested in communicating with me. Although there were three large fields plowed -- more than enough ground for each of us to cover -- they left a short time later.

That evening, I went to a grocery store. I saw a young couple; the female had on a sweatshirt with the infamous image of Charlie Manson, from the cover of LIFE magazine, on its back. Yikes! I found myself wondering: What message is she attempting to send to others with this? And what might it say about the manner in which she views herself?

The Fromm book is, like all of his writings, outstanding. Erich Fromm is, in my opinion, the most important "thinker" of our modern era. His writings are surely as important today, as when he authored them decades ago. "To Have or To Be" remains the question of our times. It involves the way in which we view others -- from those inhabiting a very different cultural reality than our own, to a young person wearing a strange sweatshirt. It determines if we seek to live our life as a product for sale on the competitive market (and perhaps the seller, if we are lucky), or do we seek to experience life in a very different way -- one that is increasing difficult in the current socio-economic conditions?

Fromm addresses issues such as why the majority of people accept being victims of a structure that robs them of their humanity? Why they morph into willing participants of a destructive life-style that threatens not only their health and well-being, but that of their children, of all children, and of all future generations? Included in this is an examination of why these same people often resent those who attempt to make meaningful changes in that system.

There is, obviously, the internal conflict for me: to write a book on the damage that toxic industrial waste dumps has done to a population, and then to connect it to hydrofracking -- a process that injects many of these same toxins into the ground -- comes natural for me. Yet I must try to make it a product that the publisher believes will sell. Yikes!

Peace,
H2O Man

Jodi Arias Verdict Reached

The jury has reached a verdict in the Jodi Arias trial. She is accused of first degree murder. Arias admitted killing her ex-boyfriend during the trial -- her third story -- but testified that it was done in "self-defense."

Frequently, high-profile legal cases are more of a distraction than not. They provide entertainment to the general viewing public. Obviously, they are neither distractions nor entertainment for victims (including family and friends).

I think this case, however, included numerous important issues. Perhaps the most important is the nature of domestic violence -- though Arias did not live with her victim, domestic abuse was central to both the prosecutor and defense attorneys.

Also, things such as trials being televised; the "star" quality of a murder suspect; "expert" witnesses who prostitute their professions; and even the difference in perception of "attractive" versus "unattractive" defendants all are worthy topics for consideration.

The verdict will be announced at 4:30 pm/est.

Four Dead in Ohio

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.
-- Neil Young

I will always remember this day.

Mayweather vs Guerrero

May 4
At Las Vegas (Showtime PPV): Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Robert Guerrero, 12 rounds, for Mayweather's WBC welterweight title.


There are a number of good fights scheduled today, but only one that is of major significance. Whenever Floyd Mayweather, Jr., fights, it overshadows all other boxing matches -- including today’s heavyweight title fight. Floyd is boxing’s “pound-for-pound” best today; ranks high among the Great Sport’s all-time best; and is, like Jack Johnson and Muhammad Ali, a hero/anti-hero who transcends sports.

Again like Johnson and Ali, there has been a search to find a challenger capable of defeating the champion inside the ring. All three displayed uncanny defensive skills in the ring, which adds to the frustration when the top opposition is unable to do any serious damage of the type that could humble them. Indeed, when these three champions enter the ring, they attract an audience larger than the boxing community, or even the general sports fans. Floyd’s “pay-per-view” sales in a single fight provide him with more income than most great fighters earned in a career.

Tonight’s opponent may actually have the best chance -- at least on paper -- of defeating Mayweather, since his first title fight in April of 1998, when he challenged Genero Hernandez. Robert Guerrero is 31-1-1-2, with 18 knockout victories. He has won three titles in tow weight classes (featherweight and super-featherweight). He moved up in weight with a goal of challenging Mayweather.

Guerrero has been impressive at welterweight. Last July, he beat Jelcuk Aydin (23-0) by 12-round decision. In November, he dropped Andre Berto twice on his way to winning another 12-round decision. In that fight-- considered an elimination bout to determine Floyd’s next challenger -- Berto unexpectedly attempted to copy Floyd’s unique defensive style, and paid a heavy price.

Robert has had some difficulties in the ring. In 2005, Gamaliel Diaz decisioned him the twelve rounds, when Guerrero attempted to outbox him. (Six months later, Robert avenged that loss with a knockout.) And in 2010, he won a close decision over former champion Joel Casamayor, who was far beyond his prime.

Perhaps most significantly was Guerrero’s second “no contest.” In him March ‘09 bout against Daud Civo Yordan, an accidental clash of heads opened a cut over Robert’s eye. The referee believed Guerrero could continue in what was becoming a surprisingly tough fight, but Robert told the ringside doctor he couldn’t see well enough to continue. On one hand, it was a safe move on his part; on the other hand, it separated Guerrero from the great champions who never submit in the second round because of a little blood.

Physically, the two match up well. Both are 5’ 8” tall; Floyd’s 72” reach gives him a two-inch advantage. At 30, Guerrero is six years younger, and he has been more active in recent years. Floyd turned pro in 1996, Robert in 2001.

Mayweather is 43-0, with 26 knockouts. In title fights, he is 20-0, with 10 knockouts. In bouts against opponents who have held titles, he is 18-0, with 7 knockouts. Floyd has won seven titles, from super featherweight to junior middleweight. He has only lost a few of the 315 rounds he has fought as a professional boxer.

When the fight was made, my son felt that it would be an easy win for Floyd. I thought it would be a difficult fight. Floyd is getting older; his last fight (Miguel Cotto) saw him get hit more than he had been in his last five bouts, and Floyd’s connect percentage was the lowest on record; and it could be difficult for him to get up for Guerrero. Add to that, Robert is a very good fighter. He’s definitely coming into the ring at his very best tonight.

However, as part of the pre-fight build-up, Guerrero has done some curious things. The most obnoxious was appearing on the “700 Club,” and saying that God wants him to “humble” Floyd Mayweather. Since then, he has had press conferences featuring his minister, who also states that God is favoring Guerrero. I think that type of thing is enough to get Floyd’s attention, and motivate him in preparing for tonight’s fight.

I still think it will be a competitive, highly entertaining bout. Guerrero will attempt to overwhelm Mayweather. Robert is always in top shape, and can throw a high volume of punches for twelve rounds. He has good punching-power. And he is a “dirty” fighter, which will make the choice of referee important. (Of course, Victor Ortiz found out how Floyd responds to blatant fouls.)

I expect Floyd will win a decision. But it will be a tough fight, and as always, anything can happen in the ring.

Enjoy the fight!

Boxing (4-27)

April 27
At Buenos Aires, Argentina (HBO): Sergio Martinez vs. Martin Murray, 12 rounds, for Martinez's lineal/WBC middleweight title

At Ontario, Calif. (HBO): Cristobal Arreola vs. Bermane Stiverne, 12 rounds, WBC heavyweight eliminator

At Brooklyn, N.Y. (Showtime): Danny Garcia vs. Zab Judah, 12 rounds, for Garcia's WBC/WBA junior welterweight title; Peter Quillin vs. Fernando Guerrero, 12 rounds, for Quillin's WBO middleweight title; Daniel Jacobs vs. Keenan Collins, 10 rounds, middleweights

At Sheffield, England (Showtime, same-day tape): Amir Khan vs. Julio Diaz, 12 rounds, welterweights


There are five good fights on television on Saturday, and -- time permitting -- coverage of a sixth bout that is of interest in the boxing community.

Rather than post one long preview of all the boxing matches, I thought that I'd attach a post on each for this thread, after beginning with the schedule here, in the OP.

2013 has gotten off to an outstanding start in the Great Sport. I expect that Saturday's bouts will continue the high-quality fights that we've been seeing.

Pond Vibrations

Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
And another
Inferior
Is finally
And permanently
Discredited
And abandoned -
Everywhere is war -
Me say war.

That until there no longer
First class and second class citizens of any nation
Until the color of a man's skin
Is of no more significance than the color of his eyes -
Me say war.

That until the basic human rights
Are equally guaranteed to all,
Without regard to race -
Dis a war.

That until that day
The dream of lasting peace,
World citizenship
Rule of international morality
Will remain in but a fleeting illusion to be pursued,
But never attained -
Now everywhere is war - war.
-- Bob Marley; War


This is a strange time. Maybe it’s always that way. In a sense, every action results in an opposite reaction. Still, it seems to me that on several levels, the negatives are gaining momentum, and at a pace that the positives haven’t caught up to.

There are exceptions, of course. The outpouring of positive vibrations in Boston is the obvious example. I continue to see where people question what motivated two young men to strike out in such a vicious manner. The answer is obvious: hatred. In the United States, And, on one hand, this country has not had much experience with the dynamic of this type of gross violence in its city streets.

On the other hand, in the past fifty years, there has been domestic terrorism aimed at specific groups of people. There were bombings of churches; the Weathermen; Tim McVeigh; the bombing of clinic that provide women with healthcare; and murderous attacks on people targeted for ethnic, religious, and sexual identity. So many people have the experience of being terrorized for simply being human beings.

I read about Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s comments regarding Israel and Iran today. Obviously, I do not know Chuck Hagel, but my impression is that he’s not a hateful person. Yet, his level of being is that of an agent of violence. James Carroll’s classic 2006 book “House of War” documents how being a cog of the pentagon changes even those who enter it with hopes of instituting change.

So long as people think they can defeat hatred with violence -- and I am not denying that human beings have the right to self-defense -- then hatred and violence will continue, with no end in sight. Yet, as overwhelming as the problems we face today seem, we all have the ability to stop participating in the hateful and violent ways that threaten (and often terrorize) the people around the earth.

Being non-violent and refusing to hate doesn’t equal a silent acceptance of victimhood. It isn’t that there is not a need for law and order, if there is to be social justice. Common sense gun laws are a good example. If the young man in Boston lives, he has the right to a fair trial; if he is found guilty, he should face the consequences.

Likewise, I believe that if there was real law and order, justice would demand that the Dick Cheneyites must face consequences. For it is that type of person who initiates violence and warfare on the global scale. And they rarely face consequences: they send ignorant young adults -- sometimes in large, uniformed (thus, depersonalized) groups, sometimes as individuals -- to carry vicious attacks upon groups no different than the good people of Boston who were watching the marathon.

These are some of the things I think about, while sitting out near my pond on a bright spring day. I’m enjoying watching both the fish and birds consume the food that I’ve brought out for them. I’m doing some writing, too (mostly on the book, but also this essay that I may post on DU.) And I have some dry firewood between the pond and cabin, and I’ll start a fire soon. Tonight, I’ll listen to the beautiful song of the peeper-frogs.

Tomorrow, I will be relaxed and rested, and return to the struggle for social justice.

Peace,
H2O Man

Ride a Lama

“Man sometimes thinks he’s been elevated to be the controller, the ruler. But he’s not. He’s only part of the whole. Man’s job is not to exploit, but to oversee, to be a steward. Man has responsibilities, not power. …

“One of the Natural Laws is that you’ve got to keep things pure. Especially the water. Keeping water pure is one of the first laws of life. If you destroy water, you destroy life.”
-- Onondaga Chief Oren Lyons


My friend was surprised when I knocked on his door. We’ve been friends since grade school, but had not seen one another for over a decade. He had introduced me to the Super Fund Site in Sidney Center in 1980, and now I was handing him the health survey that is part of the epidemiological study of the village of Sidney. Though time is a straight line, life is a series of circles.

He said that three years ago, my name had come up in a discussion he had among friends. One of them told him that I had died a few years back. I told him that he was the third person who has told me that, but that I was convinced it was merely a false rumor. He laughed and said that after hearing it, he had contacted my sister, to say how sorry he was. She said that I hadn’t died, which seems to confirm my suspicions about the nature of this particular rumor.

My friend resides in one of the nicer neighborhoods, at least by appearances’ sake. Attractive middle class houses with well-kept lawns and gardens on quiet village streets. But there were numerous people who invited me into their homes, to discuss the reality of living on the edge of a toxic industrial waste dump site. Some told me stories about a family member fighting cancer; others told me that they were fighting it now.

One was an old acquaintance from decades past. He recognized me, but could not place me in context from our previous interactions. As we talked, I could see that he had difficulty with his mind. Fighting cancer does that sometimes. We spoke for about half an hour, until he became too tired. He wanted me to stay, though, and so I said that I’d come back to visit him sometime soon, when I’m not going door-to-door.

As I approached a house on the next block, I could hear a man listing some chores to a teenaged boy. Although it was finally a warm spring day in upstate New York, the man’s tone struck me as grumpy. He asked me what I wanted, in a less than chipper tone. When I told him, he responded, “Well, you better hurry the fuck up, before everyone is dead.”

At first, he thought that I was working for the town. I explained that I wasn’t, and that I doubted that I was likely to win an outstanding citizen award from those “community leaders” that he did not trust. But the more I told him about the study, the friendlier he became. Eventually, he invited me into his house, explaining that he wanted to introduce me to his wife.

She was on a cot in their living room, watching television. She has been fighting cancer, and is nearing the end. Although she was too weak to talk, as her husband told her who I was and what I am doing, she raised her head slightly and smiled. The fellow asked me to sit down, and if I wanted anything to drink or eat? I said that I should get back to my duties, and he followed me back outside. He asked me if I could assist people who wanted to sue the industry that poisoned their homes and properties? He said it wasn’t about money, so much as being able to move to a safe environment. I told him that I would stop back with some information, including legal contacts, for him and others he knew.

In the last week of February, two of my friends died of cancer. Both had worked at the industry that polluted in Sidney. The brother of one, who I’ve been close friends with for many years, is fighting the same type of cancer. Add in two siblings, and a couple of extended family members, and it seems like cancer is everywhere I look.

I try not to let one issue saturate my mind. I stay busy with school board responsibilities, especially now that it is “budget time.” Also, a citizens group from another town in another county has asked me to assist them in planning a law suit against the state; I did some research, and provided them with two good legal firms. They contacted both, and both firms expressed interest in their case.

Still, I found my mind getting as tired as my old and aching bones. I needed a vacation. For me, a “good” vacation -- in which I can relax and rest -- is more often in time than in distance. So I decided to take some time and walk in an area rich in human history. It’s an area where Mohawk leader Joseph Brant had a camp site during the Revolutionary War.

Among other things, I found a Madison point -- a triangular flint arrowhead, dating to about 1,500 ad. Then a Lamoka javelin point, which had been made some 4,000 + years ago. But mainly, I found things like pottery shards, knives, and scrappers, which would have been used by women. Also, a unique stone bowl, with sections ground into the underside for one’s fingers, to hold it securely. My afternoon vacation had taken me to another place in time.

Upon returning home, I decided to check my e-mail -- sure evidence that I had arrived at the present of modern society. One message was from a professor of environmental studies at a Ivy League school in another northeastern state. She wants to interview me, as part of a project to “energize” the grass roots. I am honored that this lady, who I’ve never met (or heard of before) thinks I’m worth talking to.

Another message came from Onondaga, through a couple of Clan Mothers.I’ve got to call to schedule a meeting there in the near future, to discuss grass roots environmental advocacy. We need to add a “new” concept (actually, to update an old one) in the struggle to keep the water supply as pure as possible.

Time moves in a straight line; life goes in cycles.

Peace,
H2O Man

Boxing: April 13

April 13
At New York (HBO): Nonito Donaire vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux, 12 rounds, WBO/WBA junior featherweight title unification.

If you get a chance, tune in to tonight’s “big fight” on HBO at 11 pm/est. It features two of the most outstanding boxers of this era, and is definitely the best possible match that could be made in the lighter divisions.

Donaire is 30 years old; stands 5’ 5.5”; and has a 68” reach. He turned pro in 2001, and besides losing a decision in his second bout, has been unbeaten. He won the NABF super flyweight title in 2006, but remained largely unknown until he challenged tough Vic Darchinyan in July of ‘07. In an early title defense, Vic had brutally knocked out Donaire’s older brother, and few experts thought Nonito would fare any better. But he won the title with an devastating hook that left the champion unconscious; in an interview in the ring after the bout, Vic couldn’t grasp the fight had ended -- he wanted to keep going!

Donaire has had 13 wins since then, winning 9 by KO. He was the 2012 Fighter of the Year, having defended his title four times. In the first, however, he was held to winning a split-decision over challenger Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr.

His record is 31-1, with 20 knockouts. Donaire is widely recognized as one of the top five “pound-for-pound” champions today.

Rigondeaux is considered one of the greatest amateur stars in boxing history. The Cuban native won Olympic gold in 2000 and 2004, among numerous other titles. His exact record is disputed; however, he won between 250 and 400 bouts, while losing from 3 to 6. Teddy Atlas has called him the best amateur he ever saw, and Freddie Roach considers him the greatest Cuban fighter.

After coming to the USA, Rigondeaux won a world title in his seventh fight. He has had four defenses since then, winning 3 by KO. He is widely recognized as the best body-puncher in the sport today, winning several outstanding bouts with a single, well-placed punch.

The two are both best at counter-punching. Hence, in the early rounds, the fight may be similar to the 11-30-79 fight between welterweight champion Wilfred Benitez and challenger Ray Leonard: both men were cautious, waiting to see who made the first error.

The difference tonight is that both men have “one-punch knockout power.” And while it took Ray 15 rounds to catch up to Benitez (who had only trained for a few days, because he viewed Leonard as an inferior talent), both men will eventually initiate exchanges. It is likely that the first man to make a mistake will be the first one hurt, and possibly knocked out. However, once either is hurt, the other has to be very careful not to run into a counter-punch that ends the fight.

What could be better? This is the type of fight I love!

Enjoy the bout!

Boxing

I’m getting ready to pick up a friend, then head to the boxing/mma gym where my son trains. After his work-out, we’ll go to his apartment, to watch the ESPN Friday Night Fights. They come on at 10 pm/est, and I’d recommend tonight’s main event to DU sports fans, as it should be an action-packed bout.

In the past, we’ve had trouble getting sparring for my boy. He’s a bit over 6’ tall, and can compete anywhere from 195 to 215 lbs. Not big for today’s heavyweights; but unless it was a 6’ 6”, 250-lb opponent, he can fight in that division. (Amateurs have a “super heavyweight” division, but the professionals do not.) And the cruiserweight division is an option, too.

Since he’s getting sparring, we’re looking for him to debut in the pros in May. We’ll be traveling to next week’s ESPN FNFs, in part to see the undercard for potential victims.

Since January, when he started sparring, 80% of the sparring partners have quit after one round. I’m only having my boy go at about 50% with them, and they are using the 16-ounce gloves and headgear. But this kid punches very, very hard: this spring will mark the 50th anniversary of my first amateur bout, and in all of these years, I’ve never seen a local or regional fighter that has such punching power. (I have seen guys like Joe Frazier and Ernie Shavers live, and so I have seen some top fighters with unbelievable power! I’m not comparing my boy’s to theirs’ ….but there are similarities: an unconscious opponent is unconscious.)

On good nights, we line up four good guys, and have them rotate round by round, so my boy does 12 to 16 straight rounds. The other guys get an extended rest period between the rounds they are in the ring. I’m working on his delivery of punches, because it doesn’t matter how hard you punch, if you are connecting.

He’s pleased to find that the more he improves, the more I can teach him. Young lions tend to be impatient, and want to learn every trick of the trade NOW. But it doesn’t work that way. Still, in the past month, a lot of his rounds of sparring end early. Tough guys find themselves bleeding, flat on their back, or with the wind knocked out of them. And these are bigger, more experienced fighters than him.

I’ll try to remember to get some good photos to post here soon.
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