The Olympic Trials is probably one of the most saddest times that many will experience in life, well at least at that point in their lives.

What you must understand is this.

In that arena full of people. Only a handful of folks, family members and competitors will LEAVE happy. Others will leave in a state of shock, disappointment and disbelief.  They will leave as statistical losers and will have to find a way in life to use the experience to live as winners. They will all go through a massive state of depression which requires requires treatment but there is none available.

Could you imagine what it would be like to go through medical school and fail your board exam or law school and fail the bar exam, WITH NO OPTION OF TAKING IT AGAIN UNLESS YOU WENT TO SCHOOL AGAIN!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Well, THAT is what the pressure of the Olympic Trials is akin to.

And THAT is what I try to tell people who try to make a comparison to Ronda Rousey in MMA with the other women who do it.  They have not INVESTED as much as she has. Nor do they understand the finality of a loss because for them, there’s always another match or another organization. Ronda has competed where she understand that a loss will alter her life and she cannot replay this match again. See, Tate lost to Ronda and got to fight her again and another fight, although not marketable, is still a possibility.

As I digress……

I arrived in Vegas where the Olympic Trials were with my wife Traci and my son Rufus.  I had to immediately drop them off at the hotel and attend to the wrestling clients that I had at the time and the Judo clients (Taraje and Brian).  I had to make sure all the paperwork was done and that everybody was registered and the all persons made weight.

Things were great and on schedule.

On Saturday the trials would begin and at the end of the day, I expected to have 4 Olympians in the stable.

Here’s how the day went….


On the day of the Olympic Trials, Brian Picklo, a former wrestler and nationally ranked judo player was on fire.

He never really cracked the top echelon of the judo elite in the United States. Never won a National Championship and never had the success that he was used to in the sport of wrestling. But on this day, as the last seed in the Olympic Trials, my man ran through everybody like a hot knife through butter.

He beat EVERY Olympian, every Pan Am Medalist, every previous nationally ranked number one player and every player that was ranked ahead of him that lined up against him.

He SMOKED everybody and did it with ease.  He was no longer fighting people. He was no longer going on the mat and doing things randomly and playing by “feel.”

He had an ordered game plan that was constructed for him to follow and he studied it, trained it, and implemented  it like a true champion.  I could see the discipline and focus that he used to bring to the mat as an elite level NCAA wrestler coming out more and more through the matches. It seemed like as the day got longer and he got more fatigued that he started to love it more.  He appreciated the grind. I could clearly see why this guy was an All-American at Michigan State. And I kept hearing him say, the thing that he said in my house weeks before, “You’ve unlocked my wrestling. This gripping stuff has literally opened up a new game for me. None of these guys can beat me.”

And not only did he say it. He BELIEVED IT.


And he ended up winning the Olympic Trials tournament and is the only player in USA Judo history to come from a number 8 seed and win the Olympic Trials tournament.

Now after winning the tournament, he had to fight the number one seed later on in the day in a best of 3.

As fate would have it. He won a match. And Adler Volmar won a match.  And then the deciding match would determine who made the Olympic Team.

It was here that I learned a very harsh and real lesson about sports.  I learned that there are agendas that exist off the mat and that people will cheat and they have no problem taking your life’s work and shitting on it.

I saw a match end that absolutely defied the laws of physics and I saw a decision get made that was so unilaterally appalling and disgusting that it almost made me leave the sport.

I would love to get into a discussion about how the digital video somehow got MAGICALLY erased when some people came to question the call.

I would also love to talk about how the video, only shows one side of a 360 degree view that is necessary to make such a decision and the referee that CLEARLY had the best view to make the right call, made it and was overturned by a committee that could not see.

I would love to tell you the depth and breadth of relationships that are so deeply embedded in my beloved organization that sometimes they rather sink with the ship and die than float to shore.

I would love to tell you about the sh*t-storm that fell into USA Judo’s lap after making this bad decision and a few others that came back to cost them in press and bad exposure.

I would also love to tell you how a representative from the IJF sat and watch the match and could NOT believe what he say. He literally said and I quote, “I have just seen the refs here deny the laws of physics. I’ve never seen such a thing.”

I would love to tell you all of that. But what I will do is I will just SHOW YOU THE VIDEO.

Just remember, you NEED YOUR FEET to be on the ground in order to transfer force through your torso.  You can’t hit a baseball or swing a golf club without your feet being planted on the ground.


And after you watch, we will discuss part 4 of this series tomorrow!!!