Sometimes the veil of ignorance that separates us knowledgeable fight fans from the general public is a comical one. Take for instance this little gem from Massachusetts, which is a warning by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association:
In an effort to ensure the safety of our students, we wanted to pass along some critical information regarding a person trying to contact local athletes on Facebook. The person goes by “Manny Whelan” on Facebook, and he is offering local student-athletes money to “compete” in an “underground wrestling club” that is held in local hotels. It has come to our attention that this person has been contacting local male student-athletes for at least two years. This may not be exclusive to wrestling, so please inform ALL of your coaches, parents, and students.
Obviously, this Manny Whelan cat is running an unsanctioned smoker ring in an effort to give aspiring fighters in the Bay State some much-needed experience in MMA competition, which will better prepare them for the regulated and above-the-board fight leagues found in New England and beyond.
Do you know how many times Joe Lauzon and Kenny Florian had to fight in local hotels before they were polished enough to even be considered by the UFC? A lot, probably. Now look where they are and what they’ve accomplished.
If he’s been at it for at least two years, then this Whelan definitely seems committed tot he cause. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the public, this could only be something nefarious, something that necessitates a warning.
And that’s a shame.