[Marxism] Too many concussions?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Nov 19 06:48:06 MST 2016

10 years ago I posted an article about this guy on Marxmail:

> In These Times April 21, 2006
> The Ultimate Fighting Anarchist
> By Gabriel Thompson
> He is, without a doubt, the toughest subscriber to In These Times. Standing
> 5’ 9” tall, weighing 240 pounds and sporting a shaved head, Jeff “The
> Snowman” Monson looks like a cartoon ready to pop, a compressed giant of
> crazy shoulders, massive biceps and meaty forearms.
> When he sneers, people shudder. When he sweats, they turn away. When he’s
> angry, your best bet is to run.
> He’s angry right now, even though his combat career in the Ultimate
> Fighting Championship (UFC)—an often-bloody tournament that combines
> martial arts disciplines like Brazilian Jujitsu and Muay Thai Kickboxing—is
> taking off. In February’s pay-per-view event, Monson easily beat his
> opponent with a chokehold in the first round. If things keep going this
> way, he could have a title shot in the heavyweight division, against the
> explosive Andrei “The Pit Bull” Arlovski. So no, it’s not his future career
> prospects that have him pissed. It’s the state of the world.
> “I’m not some sort of conspiracy theorist,” Monson says of his political
> leanings. “I’m not talking about how the government is trying to hide UFOs.
> I just want to do away with hierarchy. I’m saying that our economic system,
> capitalism, is structured so that it only benefits a small percentage of
> very wealthy people. When I was traveling in Brazil, they had us staying at
> a really posh hotel. Outside the hotel there was a mom sleeping on the
> sidewalk with her two kids. That’s when reality hits you. What did that
> woman ever do? Who did she ever hurt?”


In 10 years time, Monson became the typical putting a plus sign where 
the State Department or Nicholas Kristof puts a minus.

NY Times, Nov. 19 2016
The Aging Fighter Who May Be Russia’s Favorite American

SUKHUMI, Georgia — He is blind in one eye and has a bad hip that makes 
it painful to sit, never mind endure the kicks and punches that are an 
essential part of his job as a mixed martial arts fighter. He is also 
nearly twice the age of many of his rivals at the top of his harrowingly 
brutal profession.

Yet, as happens whenever Jeff Monson, a 45-year-old American known as 
“The Snowman,” visits a town in Russia — or, in this case, Abkhazia, one 
of the pro-Russian enclaves in the lands of the former Soviet Union — he 
was greeted with whoops of delight last month when he limped from the 
Dynamo Stadium locker room and clambered into a cage to battle a fit 
Russian in his 20s.

After just a few minutes, the referee declared the combat over and The 
Snowman, a former world champion, the loser on points.

All the same, the battered American remained the undisputed star of the 
show. As he and his victorious opponent walked back into the locker 
room, fans ignored the Russian and surged around Mr. Monson, pleading 
for selfies and autographs.

The Russian, 29-year-old Levan Persaev, apologized for winning and told 
Mr. Monson that the fight — not a full mixed martial arts bout but a 
slightly more subdued “grappling” match — should have been declared a draw.

“Jeff, I just want to say how much I respect you. We all respect you. 
You are a model for us all,” Mr. Persaev said. The referee later took 
back his initial decision and declared the fight a draw.

At a time when the United States and Russia do little but insult each 
other, Mr. Monson has become perhaps Russia’s favorite American, hugely 
admired for his tenacity, his readiness to endure pain and, not an 
insignificant factor, his outspoken belief that Russia is right about 
most things, including the United States.

His views are so in sync with those of the Kremlin that he has been 
given his own show on RT, a state-funded television channel that 
promotes Russia’s take on the world.

What makes this particular American so popular, however, is that he is 
in many ways a Russian, or at least a close approximation of the image 
that many Russians have of themselves as tough, unrelenting underdogs, 
righteous champions of the weak against the powerful and pure-hearted 
avengers of the crimes committed by the strong, notably the United States.

“In America, we think that they just drink vodka and want to take over 
the world,” Mr. Monson said in an interview before the fight in Sukhumi. 
“But it is America that wrecks countries like Iraq and then just walks 
away with total impunity.”

Born in Minnesota and raised in Washington State, he said he “grew up 
rooting for the U.S.A.” But after studying psychology at the University 
of Illinois and traveling overseas, he says, he “figured out that the 
world is a little different” from what he had believed. His view of his 
home country today is summed up by the tattoo on his leg: “Land of 
Hypocrisy,” it says over an upside-down Stars and Stripes.

Other tattoos include the hammer and sickle, several anarchist emblems, 
the faces of Marx and Lenin and, on his neck, words that pretty much 
define his political philosophy, at least with regard to the United 
States: “Destroy Authority.”

Although he has been a big name in the fighting world since the late 
1990s, Mr. Monson did not enter Russia’s pantheon of popular heroes 
until 2011, when, watched from ringside in Moscow by Vladimir V. Putin, 
then Russia’s prime minister, he got pummeled by the country’s 
best-known fighter, Fedor Emelianenko. The Russian shattered his leg and 
beat his face to a bloody pulp.

Impressed by Mr. Monson’s tenacity in the face of defeat, Mr. Putin 
telephoned him the next day and told him: “You have the Russian spirit. 
You never give up.”

After that, Mr. Monson, a father of three, started visiting Russia 
regularly from his home in Florida, traveling the country for cage 
fights, including one in St. Petersburg that was also watched by Mr. 
Putin, a martial arts enthusiast. Mr. Monson now spends much of his time 
in Russia and in other parts of the former Soviet Union, notably 
pro-Russian enclaves that crave recognition.

The president of Abkhazia, a breakaway region of Georgia that only 
Russia and three other countries recognize and that does not get many 
foreign visitors other than Russian budget tourists, appreciated Mr. 
Monson’s visit so much that he gave him a gold watch and pronounced him 
an honorary citizen of what much of the world views as a make-believe 

Mr. Monson seemed bemused. “Where is my passport?” he asked on leaving 
the Abkhaz president’s office with only the watch and a letter thanking 
him for “his great personal contribution to the protection and defense 
of the right of peoples to self-determination and independence.”

Mr. Monson later acknowledged that he did not know much about Abkhazia, 
which broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s, and was alarmed to 
learn that getting citizenship there would almost certainly make it 
difficult for him to visit Georgia. “I always wanted to visit Georgia, 
but I guess that is not on the cards anymore,” he said.

Also probably unadvisable is a visit to Chechnya, whose Kremlin-backed 
leader, Ramzan A. Kadyrov, loves mixed martial arts but brooks no lip 
from veteran fighters. Mr. Emelianenko, Mr. Monson’s old opponent and 
now a good friend, got on the wrong side of Mr. Kadyrov recently by 
criticizing a cage-fighting contest involving the Chechen leader’s three 
underage sons.

The feud, initially confined to threats on social media, took a violent 
turn last month when an unidentified assailant beat up Mr. Emelianenko’s 
teenage daughter in Moscow and put her in the hospital. Mr. Kadyrov 
denied any hand in the assault.

Mr. Monson delights in defying the caricature of cage fighters as 
muscle-bound masochists and morons. With a master’s degree in psychology 
and a former career in mental health, he is well read, highly articulate 
and, outside the fighting cage, gentle in manner. “Just because I am a 
fighter does not mean I don’t know what is going on,” he said. “I’m a 
smart guy.”

Instilled with a fierce competitive spirit by his stepfather, who was in 
the military, Mr. Monson said he “always wanted to win, win, win.” He 
took up wrestling in college, and continued as a graduate student at the 
University of Minnesota at Duluth, where he earned a master’s degree in 
psychology in 1997.

After graduation, he worked at a community health center in Seattle but, 
appalled by Republican cuts in government health spending, decided that 
America’s system was entirely broken and that he needed a new career. By 
2002, he had quit counseling to take up fighting full time.

His political views, he said, generated “lots of hate mail” but also 
reached a wide audience thanks to fighting. “It gives me a platform,” he 

Guided by the principle that the United States is usually wrong, he has 
thrown his support behind not only Abkhazia, but other causes rejected 
by the West. That would include things like the Russian Communist Party, 
of which he is an ardent supporter, and breakaway regions of eastern 
Ukraine. He visited one such region, the self-proclaimed Luhansk 
People’s Republic, in September with his second wife to accept another 
citizenship offer and promote efforts to set up a mixed martial arts 
school in the impoverished territory.

He hopes to get a Russian passport and citizenship soon so that he can 
go into Russian politics full time and even run for a seat in Parliament 
on the ticket of the Communist Party, a tame and therefore tolerated 
Russian opposition party. He said he found the party too old-fashioned 
and too docile but supports it because he views socialism as the only 
hope for Russia and the world.

He said he was “shocked” by Donald J. Trump’s election victory and 
thinks that, regardless of the outcome of elections, Americans put too 
much faith in the president to solve their own problems. Anyway, he 
added, “My calling now is in Russia.”

As for his current career, getting pummeled by opponents 20 years his 
junior is no fun, he acknowledged, but he still wins sometimes and 
thinks he has a shot at regaining a world championship he first won in 
1999 for grappling, which is less violent than full-on mixed martial arts.

After his bout in Sukhumi, he traveled to Belgorod, in southern Russia, 
for another fight against a much younger Russian. This time, he won a 
decisive victory.

He dismisses criticism that he has become a Kremlin tool who too readily 
lends his name to oddball, anti-Western causes. “Of course they are 
trying to get something out of me,” he said. “But I have an agenda, too. 
I believe in socialism.”

He said he had no illusions about the Russian authorities and was 
worried by the rising nationalist clamor promoted by Mr. Putin, now the 
president. “It is dangerous, very dangerous,” he said. All the same, he 
thinks Mr. Putin gets “bad press” and should be credited with “doing a 
lot of good things for Russia,” a view that has endeared him to the 
Kremlin and many ordinary Russians.

Unlike the United States, which he said paid no heed to what foreigners 
thought of it, “Russia wants to be accepted,” he said. “Americans have 
this idea of their own exceptionalism, but Russians want approval.”

Well past his prime as a fighter, Mr. Monson is barely known in the 
United States outside a narrow world of mixed martial arts, a macho 
milieu that tends to take a dim view of his anti-American politics. But 
“here it is crazy,” he said, as fans swarmed him while he took a walk 
along Sukhumi’s waterfront promenade.

He has resisted pleas from family and friends to stop fighting and come 
home, particularly after he got knocked out in a Christmas Day fight in 
Moscow against a young African that lasted under a minute. “It is hard 
to stop, man,” he said. “I’m a fighter. It is in my blood. This is all I 
have known for many years.”

He added that he would like to call it quits and focus on politics but 
still needed the platform offered by his fame as a cage-fighting legend. 
Otherwise, he said, “I would be just another guy mouthing off.”

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