The martial sport known under the acronym MMA is gaining more and more popularity in the Czech Republic. And now the first book that maps the development of this sport in the last 25 years was finally released. The best of the best came to hear wrestler Daniel Barták recount his experience. Prague's Luxor was literally full of beefcake during the launch party of the book entitled "Life in a Cage".
Legends of martial arts
The biggest names of the increasingly popular martial sport sat down at one table. One side of the podium was occupied by old bards such as Jiří Mamut Paluska, who quit his professional wrestling career five years ago. However, he is still a permanent member of the Penta gym, where he gives advice to younger successors.
Ondřej Novotný, who has been involved in martial arts for more than 25 years and is one of the owners of the largest Czech MMA organization, also appeared.
"I would like this sport to get to the forefront of popularity among the Czechs. We probably won't beat football, but I think the MMA has what it takes,"
Ondřej Novotný claimed fearlessly.
It used to be a blood sport
The authors of the book, a journalist and an amateur fighter, Libor Kalous and Daniel Barták, sat proudly in the middle. Barták is one of the legends of the sport, who remembers what MMA was like in the times when there were almost no rules and fighting was sometimes done without gloves. Back then, this sport used to be called Vale Tudo.
"I still had long hair back then, I always had to cut before a match because everything was allowed - from kicking in the crotch to pulling the opponent's hair and beard,"
Barták recalls, knowing that today, few people would volunteer for such a blood sport.
Of the active wrestlers, fans were especially looking forward to see Viktor Pešta, who is the second Czech to have worked in the most prestigious MMA organization, the UFC. Next to him sat the current UFC wrestler David Dvořák and Tomáš Kužela, who has been writing the history of MMA for fifteen years.
"I don't know if I'd be willing to participate in such a bloodbath, it would probably depend on the circumstances - with whom and for how much,"
Instead of champagne, they used winning gloves
"I'm glad that after the launch party had to be postponed due to coronavirus, it finally worked out. The book deserved it, and when I see its godparents, I'm not worried about it's success at all. I'm not a big visionary, I rather live in the here and now, but I liked the opinion of Ondra Novotný that MMA would be the number two sport in our country, that it would overtake hockey and breathe down football's neck,"
Daniel Barták commented. By the way, he chose an unconventional concept of a book launch. Someone had allegedly told him that pouring champagne on a book was gross, so the masters of their art tapped the book with gloves that had contributed to David Dvořák's victory in the UFC-led match instead.