On January 20th and 21st the 2007 Budweiser Jiu-Jitsu World Cup is set to take place in the outskirts of Charlotte, North Carolina.
On January 20th and 21st the 2007 Budweiser Jiu-Jitsu World Cup is set to take place in the outskirts of Charlotte, North Carolina. This prestigious event has quickly become one of the marquee jiu-jitsu events in the United States since its inception in 2001. The event was created by Joe Hurst and Garrett Barger and motor sports icon Dale Earnhardt Jr. Now that we’re only a few weeks away from what should be the biggest and best Bud World Cup to date, I was fortunate enough to catch up with tournament promoter Joe Hurst to discuss this year’s event.
Bevois: Joe, you’re a Black Belt in jiu-jitsu not just promoting, and have been training jiu-jitsu since 1993, right around the time the art first got noticed in America due to Royce Gracie’s success in the UFC. Since that time, you have been noted as the first American ever invited to roll on Helio Gracie’s personal mat at his home in Brazil. Would you say that this rare opportunity to train with a master in his natural environment is comparable to my invite to go cougar hunting with Scotty-OTM at Tulio Perrone’s birthday party in Rio next summer?
Joe Hurst: I was truly honored to have been there and trained at his home. That day was very important to me. I'm just waiting for an invite from Scotty!
Bevois: Now throughout your jiu-jitsu career, you’ve had the opportunity to train with some of the best in the world, such as Helio Gracie, Saulo Ribeiro, Carlos Lemos Jr., Roberto "Gordo" Corrêa, Relson Gracie, Marcello Clemente, and Daniel Moraes. Who would you say has contributed the most to your jiu-jitsu learning curve and why?
Joe Hurst: I was really blessed to have trained with each and every one of those guys. To pick one would be impossible, as each of these guys bring an incredible angle to the sport.
Not to mention they could all kick my butt!!!
Bevois: Jiu-Jitsu and Submission Grappling have been very popular on the West Coast for years with academies located on just about every street corner. How would you say the jiu-jitsu and submission grappling scene is doing in the Southeastern part of the country, particularly in the Tar Heel State, now compared to when you first started?
Joe Hurst: What I was doing received a lot of publicity in the newspapers and on the T.V. because it was so new. Also, Dale Earnhardt Jr. really helped me get it out there to so many individuals, who had not yet heard of Jiu-Jitsu. Now you can find a good Jiu-Jitsu Academy in about every big city.
Bevois: The 2007 Budweiser Jiu-Jitsu World Cup (www.budworldcup.com), which will be taking place on the weekend of January 20th and 21st, will happen at The Cabarrus Arena & Events Center in Concord, North Carolina. This venue is over 30,000 square feet with very high ceilings. How excited are you about this venue, and more importantly, what is rumored to be the best Bud World Cup to date?
Joe Hurst: This year will be giving out the most Prize money to date. Three weight classes will pay $1,000 to each first place winner. This one looks like it definitely will be the biggest one to date with interest coming from the most skilled competitors. I am really excited about this one.
Bevois: 3x Bud Cup champion, 2x ADCC champion, and top heavyweight UFC fighter Jeff Monson, Bud Cup champion, Pan Am champion, and top L.A. Sub X competitor Rafael Lovato Jr., and European Judo champion, IJJF Jiu-Jitsu champion, and one of the original UFC forefathers Remco Pardoel have all announced that they plan on attending the 2007 Bud World Cup. Attracting that much star-power is an obvious indication at the quality of tournaments you run. Is there anyone else I forgot that is rumored to be attending?
Joe Hurst: We just spoke with Andre Olisky and other big names are calling and inquiring about the tournament, so we think that the Buzz is out about the quality of fighters coming to the event. The people who are just getting started and pros alike, seem to like our laid back tournament and the personal touch we bring to each tournament.
Bevois: Aligning yourself with Anheuser-Busch and the Budweiser brand speaks volumes about the level of major corporate sponsorship and exposure that you have given this sport. Can you explain your relationship with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his involvement in the jiu-jitsu and submission grappling arena?
Joe Hurst: Garrett, Dale Jr. and I are friends that decided to start this event and Dale really opened the doors to the corporate world. In this area, it gathered a lot of exposure.
Bevois: Speaking of Dale, NASCAR has recently installed a new format called the "Race for the Nextel Cup", which features 10 major races to determine the best driver in the world. Personally, I’d like to see jiu-jitsu and submission grappling utilize a similar system throughout the year, which would feature the same point system in 10 major jiu-jitsu and submission grappling events across America to determine who the best of the best in each weight class is. What are your thoughts on this idea and possibly spearheading this movement?
Joe Hurst: I would favor a system as long as a board headed it up. It should not be about someone controlling the system and making it better for any one area of the country or be used just to make money for one group. I would love to be on the board to represent the South for something like this.
Bevois: Now back to the topic of spearheading. Scotty-OTM is a world renowned spear hunter, when it comes to hunting cougars. Do you have any personal eyewitness accounts of "The Cougar Hunter" in action, while in his natural environment (i.e. Strip Clubs) in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina after any of your tournaments?
Joe Hurst: Scotty-OTM, I would have to say, is one of the coolest guys that I have ever met. The most fun time I ever had at a tournament was hanging out with Scotty. It is without a doubt something you should not miss.
Bevois: Your tournaments not only attract world-class jiu-jitsu competition, but have also offered everything from free chicken wings from Hooters, free game cards for arcades, bowling, and billiards at Jillians, and friendly dodge ball matches among the competitors, as well as the more adult friendly activities, such as free shuttle services and passes to strip clubs in downtown Charlotte, NC. What should we expect to see this time around on the weekend of January 20th and 21st?
Joe Hurst: I knew the only way to grow the sport was to get corporate involvement. I decided last year that I needed some experts from the corporate world to represent us and give us the guidance to go after the big corporate dollars. I hired Carolina Quest Entertainment to run all of our business operations, so I could focus on promoting and growing the sport and let them go after the corporate big wigs. We teamed up to create Global Grappling to unify ground fighting and be better prepared to grow for the future. This year, we not only Budweiser, but Bacardi, Coca-Cola, multiple local bars and restaurants, and items tied to jiu-jitsu, but we have tied into the NFL by doing demonstrations before each of the Carolina Panthers home games. We are also teaming up with professional hockey the night before the Bud World Cup to tie into that fast pace and growing sport as well. Our fighters get a discounted ticket price and we also donate half of all ticket sales to a charity. It is our chance to give back to the community, while allowing fighters traveling into our city to have a great time. We also have radio and print interviews promoting the sport and bringing awareness to our partners and sponsors. It has been very exciting watching us go from a small grass roots academy to a household name in this area. I just hope we can make it even better in the future and bring even more people into the sport.
Bevois: Finally, I’d just like to point out that you are offering all military personnel a 15% discount at the 2007 Bud World Cup (January 21-22). Is there any message you’d like to send our men and women overseas to help motivate them in the New Year?
Joe Hurst: For me personally, I have so many friends in the military and I have so much respect in what they do. I'm honored to be able to offer them a safe and fun environment in which to practice and compete in the art of Jiu-Jitsu. My biggest message for the troops over there is be safe and come home soon!