The sport of boxing as it exists today came to be in the 1860s in England with the adoption of a set of rules known as the Marquess of Queensbury Rules. Three decades later, the same Marquess of Queensbury who lent his name to boxing's rules added another chapter to his biography when he publicly labeled author/poet/bon vivant Oscar Wilde a "somdomite" (a misspelling of sodomite).
The Marquess was angry at Wilde for getting wild with the Marquess' son. The insult triggered a chain of events that landed Wilde in jail for "gross indecency with other male persons." Prison destroyed Wilde's health and he died in 1900. Adding insult to fatal injury, Wilde is buried in the same Paris cemetery as that pig Jim Morrison.
What does any of that have to do with entertainment and nightlife in Atlanta? Almost nothing. It's just a roundabout way of telling you that I went to Friday Night Fights last, er, Friday night at EarthLink Live.
The event is a bill of multiple fighting matches put together every few months by local fight promoter Undisputed Productions. FNF events feature different styles of fighting (boxing, Muay Thai, mixed martial arts) paced for maximum excitement. It has become one of the most popular tickets in town. Last week, it wasn't just sold out, but there were dozens of people milling around the front of the venue vocally disappointed that they couldn't get in.
Who goes to fights? Mostly guys. Fighting audiences skew toward manly men with money - the kind who like cigars and high-fives. You certainly don't have to be that kind of guy to enjoy fighting, though. I like warm baths and Joni Mitchell and I still thought it was fantastic.
My favorite fights of the evening were fights three and four. Fight No. 3 was a three-round Muay Thai bout between Atlantans Mike Maniaci and Eric Hager. The pummeling that those two inflicted on one another in rounds two and three was amazing. I don't know how they managed to stay conscious, let alone hug after the match and walk away.
Fight No. 4 was a mixed martial arts bout. It was a first-rounder, but it was still thrilling, largely because of the crazed look on 265-pound Nate Horsely's face as he literally crushed his opponent, James Bennett, in the first round. Flustered by Horsely's intensity, Bennett made the mistake of turning his body away from his opponent. In an instant, Horsely took Bennett down and jumped on him until judges stopped the match. Horsely was so intense, so charged up, that I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd started ripping apart his opponent and eating him. After the match, though, he had a soft, almost remorseful look on his face, as though he was embarrassed by how easily he'd won.
The strangest part of the evening came just before the headline bout. Immediately after devoutly Christian local lightweight contender Ebo Elder explained to the audience that he's gonna beat up WBA lightweight champ Juan Diaz on Christ's behalf, the evening's emcee, 96 Rock's Southside Steve, brought a local singer on stage to perform the national anthem. Possibly intoxicated and holding a drink in his hand, the singer couldn't remember any of the words after "gleaming." He stopped, started again, and failed again, prompting the audience to shower the ring with cups and plastic bottles. Southside Steve yanked the singer's mic and skillfully calmed the crowd down by immediately asking everyone to applaud the U.S. soldiers overseas. Good man.
Comfort food: I've had a lousy couple of weeks. Among other things, my first vacation since forever recently got postponed, and a tree limb smashed my car. Last week, I needed the event equivalent of comfort food, so I spent a lot of extra time in my favorite neighborhood, East Atlanta. Last Thursday night, I stopped by the Earl's long-lasting sixth anniversary celebration to catch a performance by Nikki Sudden. Sudden (whose brother performed under the equally great pseudonym, Epic Soundtracks) first popped up in geeks' record collections in the late 1970s as part of experimental post-punks the Swell Maps. He's since transformed into a boozy, dandy new classic rock guy. Imagine a hybrid of the Rolling Stones and the Velvet Underground, sung by a slightly less froggy-sounding Bob Dylan. A wee bit on the mellow side, but great show.
On Saturday night, I met a friend at Mary's for some karaoke. Unbeknownst to me, it was the birthday of Mary's venerable karaoke-jockey, CJ. CJ demanded one birthday indulgence: that nobody sing "I Will Survive."
Abasha!: Last Saturday, the Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America held a national soccer tournament at the Georgia Dome. The event also served as an Ethiopian cultural festival, with the parking on the south side of the Dome transformed into a giant Ethiopian restaurant serving huge helpings of Ethiopian delights like yemsir wat, yekik alitcha, beef tibs, and, er, hot wings and fries onto the Ethiopian bread called injera.My favorite part of the festival were all the T-shirts. I nearly bought myself a confusing but evocative T-shirt depicting Emperor Haile Selassie on a $100 bill surrounded by the text "Abasha Hustle. You gotta respect it." Instead, I bought my girlfriend a tank-T bearing the equally evocative and confusing "Everyone Loves Ethiopian Girl." I figure it's either a grammatical error, or an East African superhero I've never heard of.
For more about Andisheh's weekend events, visit Scene & Herd at andy2000.org
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