Whatever future Demorest dreamed for the place, I assume he would have been staggered to know that 250 years later, an amazon would walk out of those selfsame swamps, cross the fastness of the Atlantic, alighting finally in the East, where she will take her first step into the warrior’s ring this Saturday at the Shuangjing Showdown.
Becky “Berserker” Lane, whip-crafter, horse tamer and beer bitch, is no stranger to pain, bloodying her tender young hands on the axe handles of her rural Canadian lumberjack childhood.
On April 18, at Beijing’s very own daylight boxing and Muay Thai fair, Becky will represent The Legend Muay Thai and BActive Fitness against New Zealand’s Josie “Fiery” O’Reily in a tooth-and-nail battle for the honor of her house.
Round 1: FIGHT!
SmBj: Wait, you two are fighting for the honor of your houses, right? Your families are locked in an ancient feud?
Josie: No ancient feud. I think she's a cool chick. Looking forward to sharing a beer together after the fight.
SmBj: So it’s not personal?
Becky: Uh… it’s personal in that people are involved? I’m honestly not really sure why fighting appeals to me: I might be a masochist. I started thinking about fighting [in a match] after training Muay Thai for fun. It seemed pretty badass and I realized I was scared to do it, so I figured that was a good enough reason to try. I’m also 30 this year and I wanted to start the decade off memorably; I guess I want to be able to look back and be proud of myself for doing things that were personally challenging.
Josie’s the only other girl in my weight class, so I guess in that sense violence was destined.
Violence ordained by the long arm of fate: MY FAVORITE KIND.
Survival is the ONLY Rule
SmBj: So, is survival the ONLY rule?
James Oliver [one leg of the Showdown’s Tekken Zaibatsu alongside Plan B Bar & Grill’s Trevor Metz and Ian Syer]: Actually, there’s kind of a lot of rules.
All the fights on our card consist of three 2-minute rounds. Fighters will take a one-minute rest between rounds to [recuperate] and receive instructions their coaches. All fighters will be wearing mouth guards and protective headgear, which is really more helpful for preventing cuts than it is for blunt trauma. Muay Thai fighters will be wearing leg guards as per amateur rules.
Survival is one rule amongst many, many sensible rules, but is most definitely the coolest-sounding rule.
Warriors from the Netherrealm: The Contenders
James says the series of death matches will call on fighters from a cross-section of Beijing gyms, with participants back-flipping into the mix from The Legend Muay Thai, B Active, Fight Republic, Glee Gym, Black Tiger and Tiger King.
You’re looking at a lineup that includes 10-time brawler Mario “El Dino” Saudino, a former street hoodlum turned stockbroker from Mexico whose fists are guided by the spirit of his grandfather. El Dino is taking the ring against a mystery fighter flying in from Shandong to compete, who will presumably be waylaid by foul play, dramatically kicking the doors down and cartwheeling into the splits only moments before a default forfeit.
Then there’s Sacramento California’s indomitable Stacy “The Boss” Tomasello, representing Fight Republic and going toe-to-toe with former wrestler and New Yorker Matty “Angel Feet” Terry, representing Tiger King gym.
Stacy "The Boss" Tomasello: Stacey is a girl’s name, and I grew up with more than the occasional fight. I was the captain of my college [boxing] team, but the week of the tournament qualification competitions, I got the flu, a concussion, a broken nose. I watched the opportunity to become the national champion pass me by, and I’ve carried [the anger and disappointment] with me for 2 years now. I’ll leave it all in the ring come fight night.
But Matty doesn’t plan to let that shit slide.
Matty “Angel Feet” Terry: Stacy has a lot more experience under his belt, but I have quite a bit of size, power, and speed. He's clearly the better boxer but I think I’m the better athlete, so it’ll be a good matchup.
Xin Jiang punisher Zhai “Taxman” Tianwen is coming to collect from Canada’s Kristian Li, and is also among the day’s debut fights.
Zhai “Taxman” Tianwen: Training isn’t like a real fight; the punching bag doesn't move. When I apply my skills to a real opponent, maybe I’ll find that everything I’ve learned was in vain. But I intend to enjoy the experience, though it’ll be tough and there’ll be plenty of pain. Why? I fight for fun, I fight to win, and I fight to get girls. …Kidding, kidding.
Soviet striker, former wushu practitioner and CCTV host Vadim “The Commissar” Grinikh is fighting for hearth and home against Arizona’s Michael “Sweet Baby Boy” Garcia, who’s rumoured to have gained superhuman resilience from a venomous spider bite and has plans to “charge in like a raging bull and turn his ribs into dust with body shots.”
Vadim “The Commissar” Grinikh: I don’t know [him], so it’s nothing personal,” says Vadim, asked about any possible unsatisfied blood debts. “He’s just a guy I need to walk through.
This isn’t some black-tie-and-bikinis showy Vegas brawl, this is a festivus of blood, an event of the people, and it runs on the people’s time. Gates open at 11:00am on Saturday at Pingguo Beiqu (Pingod North Art Street), with free-flow beer for the duration, and fights start at 1:00pm. You’re looking at 200rmb and your war face for pre-sale tickets, 250rmb on arrival.
You may also be required to bare a birthmark proving that you come from a long line of warrior monks.
The Shuangjing Showdown starts at 1pm this Saturday, April 18 on PingGuo BeiQu Art Street, Shuangjing. Your ticket includes all-you-can-drink beer, and Plan B will be supplying the BBQ. Contact the organizers for advance tickets here. 250rmb at the gate. More info at the event page right here.