There’s been an online defamation campaign started last week, that reaches back through the past two decades of my volunteering in Sambo as a national coach and association officer, which I wrote about in Debunking Claims of Fraud.
To further clear the air regarding their baseless and juvenile smear tactics, I was asked to share why I was awarded the Honorable Master of Sport in Sambo - the highest athletic distinction in the Russian national sport of Sambo.
Firstly, years ago I had listed in my credentials “Distinguished” rather than “Honorable.” Though there is only one word for this in Russian language - заслуженный , it has been translated in several different English terms: merited, honorable and distinguished. In English language, Honorable can often be confused with “honorary”, which carries the connotation of “awarded not earned”. Therefore, several of us used the term “Distinguished” instead.
I am not the only one to do this. Everyone from UN officers, to association partners with the very people attacking me for the usage of this term. The American Sambo Association - the recent US company partnered with a previous officer on my staff, Dayn Derose. The ASA used “Distinguished Master of Sport” in their seminar marketing, despite the fact that Dayn was awarded the same diploma as myself on the same day at the same event. Hypocrisy. Regardless, I have not used the term “distinguished” in years.
The Honorable Master of Sport (HMoS) was awarded to me by the American Sambo Federation - the official representative of Federation Internationale Amateur de Sambo (FIAS: the official governing body for the sport since 1966, recognized by FILA). The Honorable Master of Sport is awarded to “international champions who have made significant contributions to the sport.”
As I was the 1993 World University Games silver medalist (the Universiade is the Olympics for university students), and the 1995 Pan-American gold medalist, I qualified for the HMoS.
There were many grapplers more accomplished than me competitively, though I am proud to have overcome my childhood physical and learning disabilities to have successfully competed in international competition against fighters I had no genetic right defeating.
However, I am the only man to have served as the US Coach for the Junior/Childrens Team, the Womens Team, the Mens Team, and the Police Team. I was the president of the original assoc which became the “American Sombo Academy”, and drafted- as requested- the first belt ranking system for American Sombo. I co-created with Igor Yakimov, the first Combat Sambo competition regulations as the appointed Commissioner of the International Combat Sambo Commission for FIAS - the first American to hold the chair.
I served as Vice-President of the American Sambo Federation, Combat Sambo Chairman of the ASF, as well as Head Coach. I served as the American Representative for the United Federation of Russian Sambo (a confederation of Sambo organizations launched by Igor Yakimov, Canadian Sambo Federation president and world Sambo champion.) And inducted as a lifetime member of the United Combat Sambo Association personally by Grandmaster Mikhael Galperin - direct student of Ivan Vasilievich Vasilyev - one of the founders of Sambo.
And I was the first American to bring “Combat Sambo Spetsnaz” to USA, having been the first student to formally intern in Russia under General Alexander Retuinskih. This was at a time when “Combat Sombo” was actually a RECREATION by British and American experts who studied Sambo books, attending competitions and had alternative backgrounds in other martial arts. I sought to find out what actually was being taught in Russia, and was virtually black-balled as being unpatriotic for not supporting a US version as superior.
I served as US national coach for BOTH of the splinter organizations of FIAS - Federation International Amateur de Sambo - the original world governing body for the sport, established by FILA in 1966. Called FIAS-East and FIAS-West, I tried to remain apolitical and support the athletes by continuing to support both organizations. I failed, and became positioned as a target for their mutual venom. I made great mistakes trying to remain neutral. I should have just gotten out then.
I earned the rank of “international category referee” in Sambo, licensed directly by Mikhail Tikhomirov, President of FIAS. The tests for becoming an international category ref are/were exhaustive - both written, verbal and performance examinations. At the time, I believe I was the only American to have been an international champion, national coach and international category referee. Giving what the Russians called a “three-dimensional mastery” of the sport. This aided me significantly in helping bring Sambo to America. Without it, I doubt I would have been as effective or accurate.
In 1999, Dr. Leonid Polyakov, Vice-President of FIAS and President of the ASF, after I served as the coach of the FIRST USA Police Sambo Team to enter competition in Lithuania, personally awarded me the HMoS for my contributions to the sport (since I had already qualified with winning an international competition.) Another individual was awarded at the same time, Dayn Derose, the man that I appointed as Combat Sambo Chairman of the ASF, when I was elected as the Vice-President. Dayn and I received the awards in front of 39 witnesses at my seminar in Pennsylvania.
I brought Sambo to television, radio and print more than any other American (at the time - this was mostly pre-internet social networking proliferation.) I did all of these things voluntarily, with no fee. Strictly because I believe(d) in the sport. Because of my experiences with this internecine political cannibalism, I no longer believe in the sport. I only believe in my athletes and clients.
Politics are the death of sportsmanship. Defamation, libel and slander are the tools of these agents provocateurs. Of course they play innocent, they cry mere curiosity, but stating someone’s credentials “appear fake” is like printing that someone “appears to be a child molester.” The implication turns indictment. Whether these small-minded people realize it or not, their pettiness injures the sport, because of their political and personal agendas.
Ignore the politics. Long live the athletes. Now, back to your regularly scheduled station of kick ass training programs and videos.