Pretty interesting article about his start into the MMA scene. I am imbressed...(haha...never gets old.)
A new, undisputed UFC welterweight champion will be crowned on Saturday, Nov. 17 at the Bell Centre when Montreal’s Georges St-Pierre takes on Carlos Condit in the main event of the UFC 154 card.
If you can’t get – or can’t afford – tickets to the Bell Centre, UFC 154 will also be available live at five select Guzzo movie theatres across Quebec as well as on pay-per-view. For a complete list of theatre locations and prices, click here. For more information on UFC 154, click here.
A couple of TV specials on St-Pierre are slated to air on Tuesday, Nov. 13. TVA Sports will have a Georges St-Pierre special at 7 p.m., while Sportsnet will air a UFC Special: GSP – The Comeback, at 8 p.m., looking at St-Pierre’s return to the octagon after being sidelined by a knee injury for almost a year.
Many Gazette readers were first introduced to St-Pierre back in 2006 when Allison Lampert wrote a feature profile on the fighter. You can read that story below:
(Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
PUBLISHED IN THE GAZETTE ON MARCH 6, 2006
Georges (Rush) St. Pierre is considered a top competitor, with expected earnings of $200,000 U.S. this year, in a combat sport that rarely makes local headlines – extreme fighting, also known as mixed martial arts.
That’s not bad for a former skinny kid from the South Shore who began karate lessons at age 7 to defend himself against schoolyard bullies. Once, in Grade 3, he had his head slammed into a table because he wouldn’t hand over $5.
Now, in Las Vegas, strangers follow the muscular welterweight and ask for autographs while husbands throw their squealing wives into his arms so they can snap pictures.
Last month, an event like the one being staged tonight at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino drew more than 10,000 fans and generated $3.8 million in ticket sales, according to the Nevada athletic commission.
That marked a new high for a sport that once depended on support from an online group of die-hard fans. It’s now emerging from fringe status in the United States, with mainstream celebrities like Paris Hilton and Cindy Crawford among the spectators.
Inroads slowly are being made in Quebec, too, thanks to high-profile fighters like St. Pierre, 24, and Montrealer David (The Crow) Loiseau, 26, who’s also on tonight’s card.
Champs sports bar on St. Laurent Blvd. is screening the event live on pay-per-view. “It’s going to be packed on both floors,” predicted Carlos Moleirinho, one of the owners.
Yet, St. Pierre laments it’s been a decade since his sport made the front page of Quebec newspapers – and that was only because a bout deemed too violent by New York State was moved to Kahnawake instead.
“They talk about the guy who’s ranked 100th in bowling,” St. Pierre says. “But they never talk about us.”
Unlike boxers, extreme fighters compete using a variety of combat styles – grappling, karate and kickboxing, for example.
That’s why they always have at least two advisers in their corner – one for when they fight standing, and one for when the bout goes to the ground.
In the U.S., the fights take place not in a boxing ring but in an octagon-shaped cage, giving added ammunition to critics who call the sport savage.
Since late December, St. Pierre has been training twice a day, six days a week, to hone his skills in various fighting styles and achieve a level of fitness that will allow him to get through three grueling rounds of five minutes each.
St. Pierre’s training regime is as varied as a university student’s class schedule – wrestling on Thursdays and Sundays, boxing on Wednesdays, weight-training on Mondays. On Tuesdays, he takes private kickboxing lessons at Tristar, a popular martial arts gym on Ferrier St.
One of his cornermen, Tristar instructor Victor Vargotsky, is a former kickboxing champ from Ukraine. He’s also an ex-Soviet Union special forces sniper who served in Afghanistan during the 1980s.
“Georges, stab it in! Punch up like you’re stabbing someone in the intestines!” is a typical Vargotsky command from ringside.
Tonight, for the first time, St. Pierre will square off against B.J. (The Prodigy) Penn, one of the toughest competitors in extreme fighting. Last May, the baby-faced Hawaiian grappler was charged with assaulting a police officer outside a Waikiki night club.
Near the end of a recent training session at Tristar, Vargotsky ordered an aching, sweat-drenched St. Pierre to keep throwing uppercuts – even after the bell signalled the end of the round.
“Let’s go, speed!” he barked over the reggae music blaring from the gym stereo, as red leather gloves hit Vargotsky’s focus pads.
“Never give up!” he commanded. “That’s how you win the fight – when he’s exhausted and you’re working double!”
And yet, when St. Pierre expresses concern about the coming fight, Vargotsky is remarkably gentle.
“I tell him: ‘I’ve been to places in the world where people are afraid to leave their homes in the morning. Go out there and have fun.’ “
- – -
St. Pierre learned about extreme fighting as a child growing up in St. Isidore, a farming community of 2,500 near the Kahnawake Mohawk reserve.
Pioneered in Brazil by a family of martial artists, the sport was first promoted successfully in North America by the U.S-based Ultimate Fighting Championship. The fledgling sport’s goal was to compare the efficacy of different fighting styles.
As a young teenager, St. Pierre and some friends rented a video of the UFC’s first mixed martial arts tournament from 1993 – and he got hooked.
At the time, competitors didn’t use gloves, and headbutting – illegal in boxing – was common. There were no weight classes, and rounds had no time limits.
But whereas his pals were impressed by the violence, St. Pierre was drawn by the skill of a lanky fighter from Brazil named Royce Gracie, who was able to defeat his larger, more muscular opponents.
Watching the smaller man prevail made an impression on the boy who’d get picked on by older students at school because of the way he walked on the balls of his feet – a condition caused by high arches that was later corrected with orthotics.
Roland St. Pierre, a former karate instructor, had no problems with his son’s new-found interest. The mother, though, was another story.
In 1996, Paulyne St. Pierre refused to let then 14-year-old Georges attend an extreme fight promoted by Penthouse magazine that had been moved to
Kahnawake after it was banned by the New York State Athletic Commission.
Citing Mohawk sovereignty, the Kahnawake band council allowed the fight to go on despite the objections of the Parti Quebecois government, which deemed the event illegal.
Two years later, though, Quebec became the first province to legalize extreme fighting after striking a deal with the Mohawks to regulate a second match at Kahnawake.
This time, no headbutting was allowed, and fighters had to compete with opponents of the same weight in three or five rounds lasting five minutes each.
“We came out with all kinds of rules to make it a sport,” said Mario Latraverse, director of the combat sports division of Quebec’s Regie des alcools, des courses et des jeux.
Today, extreme fighting is also legal in Alberta, British Columbia and 20 U.S. states.
The most popular league in Canada is the Quebec-based franchise TKO, which held its last fight in January at the Colisee de Laval – an arena that usually hosts semi-professional hockey games.
The audience at the January fight – not unlike those at Colisee hockey games – reserved the biggest cheers for competitors who most resembled barroom brawlers.
Extreme fighting “is exciting at a high level,” noted Tristar owner Alexandre Choko. “When it’s not at a high level, it can be very disgusting.”
St. Pierre got to see the second fight at Kahnawake, despite his mother’s continued reservations.
“I felt guilty,” recalled Paulyne St. Pierre, who works an overnight shift at a Chateauguay nursing home caring for elderly patients.
“Why did he need to be a part of so much violence? What did I do wrong?”
- – -
Before they can make it big in the U.S. or Japan, Quebec mixed martial artists start out in leagues like TKO, where even champion fighters earn only about $15,000 a year.
As a 21-year-old TKO champion, St. Pierre trained full time, took college courses and worked at a carpet store to pay the bills. At the time, his poor English skills made it hard to attract sponsors.
He was once so broke he had to borrow $2,000 from his mother, while finishing his kinesiology studies at College Edouard Montpetit in Longueuil. He has since paid back every penny, and after finishing college moved back to live with his parents.
Now, Paulyne St. Pierre better understands the sport and is comfortable with her son’s choice of career. She washes his gym clothes and lets him dry his old karate uniforms on the clothesline in the basement.
“He loves what he does and he’s happy,” she said. “For him it’s a sport, it’s not violence.”
In fact, extreme fighters argue their sport is safer than boxing because the mixed martial approach means you can win without enduring repeated blows to the head.
In extreme fighting, you can win by knockout, by scoring more points or by “submission” – when you put your opponent in a chokehold, for example. The referee may also stop a bout if he deems a fighter is no longer able to defend himself.
After 12 professional bouts, St. Pierre has yet to break his nose. His pale, chiseled face has rarely been cut in the octagon. Two scars at the front of his closely cropped head were caused at school, not in the ring. Extreme fighting, he insists, is not as dangerous as some make it out to be, if it’s done well.
For him, the most difficult part is making weight. This week, he stopped eating carbohydrates and spent hours in the sauna to cut 15 pounds off his 185-pound, 5-foot-10-inch frame.
After yesterday’s weigh-in, he has 24 hours to hydrate and eat his fill before the big event.
Tonight’s bout is being billed as a showdown between nine U.S. and Canadian fighters, four of whom train in Quebec. Fewer than 1,000 of the arena’s 10,000 seats are still available.
During a recent promotional photo shoot in Los Angeles, St. Pierre was asked to comment on the honour of fighting for Team Canada. A separatist with a fleur-de-lis tattooed on his right calf, he refused to play the script.
“I fight for myself,” he said.
PS: Bonus article. Funny as hell! I should get reps from
all the UK peeps on here.
I am Eric Idle. I am not lazy. I am not dead. My Dick is available today. AMA.
"I have a blog, I’m on twitter, I was once on Monty Python, now I’m on steroids, I live in California and my dog is for sale. Only kidding. It’s not my dog. It’s my daughters. She’s not for sale either. I have one son, and a wife of 35 years. Ask Me Anything!"