November 16, 2012

His name is Bo Svenson and he’s reportedly Quentin Tarantino’s favorite actor. He’s been in The Great Waldo Pepper, Kill Bill, Vol. 2, and Inglourious Basterds. He made his name in Walking Tall, and tall he is. When we met in the lineup to go in for the match I thought it was a joke. He’s 6’6” and looked to be about 220 pounds. I’m 5’8” and 185 pounds. He is also six years younger. Bo was friendly and told me that he hadn’t weighed in. The volunteer lady responsible for registering him was so awestruck at meeting a movie star, she apparently forgot all about it.

Once on the mat Bo felt much stronger than me but I had two secret weapons. One is NYU professor Mark Brennan, the other his student, Brian Pereira. They’d coached me for eight weeks of pre-fight training—brutally at times—but for once I was ready to go the full distance. Two days before I had gone all out with Mark for three-and-a-half minutes, which is the longest a match can last in my age group.

Thirty seconds into the match while we were feeling each other out, Bo threw me with an expert move—he’s been practicing judo since 1960—gaining a yuko, but once on the ground I managed to stay off my back and get him into a headlock. “Get your leg out,” yelled Brian from my corner, and that order sealed Bo’s fate. I held onto his head for dear life, trying to squeeze it out of him. The rules say one has to hold down an opponent for 20 seconds. I held Bo down for 27, which could have been an honest mistake by the timer since Bo is, after all, a movie star. But he could not have been more gracious in defeat, except for a remark later on to Brian that he could have hurt me but didn’t because I was a nice man. I guess that’s Hollywood for you.

Image of Miami Beach courtesy of Shutterstock


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