Oleg Prudius featured in Grunge

Retired wrestlers who are completely unrecognizable today

By Jason Iannone

Once the pressure of looking larger-than-life on TV every week goes away, many pro wrestlers start looking very different. Whether they lose the muscle, change their hairstyle, stop wearing outlandish clothing, or all of the above, many wrestlers are virtually unrecognizable after they hang up their boots.

Vladimir Kozlov

From 2008 to 2012, WWE fans got to know Russian bruiser Vladimir Kozlov very well. He started as a super-stoic monster, then evolved (maybe) into a wacky, fun-loving big man, prone to dancing, having tea parties, and tooting on invisible trombones with his tag partner and BFF, the equally wacky Santino Marella.

Since leaving the ring, Kozlov has slimmed his body but jacked up his muscles. Plus, he’s grown a big, bushy beard that makes him look like a Russian Hugh Jackman. Why would he spend his retirement getting into better shape than during his day job? Because he’s looking to make it big in Hollywood as an action-movie tough. He’s making some good progress, having appeared in Fast 6 as a stunt double. (Between him and the Rock, that movie is full up with WWE refugees.) He was also in The Wire, Burn Notice, and the Chinese mega-smash Wolf Warrior II. He even founded a production company in 2014 called Quasar Entertainment, where he currently serves as vice president. Now that Hugh Jackman is done with Wolverine, maybe he’ll join up.

Read More: https://www.grunge.com/90291/retired-wrestlers-completely-unrecognizable-today/

Alexey Oleynik + ETFMG Partnership Featured in Bloomberg

Cage-Fighter Sponsored by Pot ETF Issuer in Rare Marketing Move

By Kristine Owram

The issuer of the world’s largest pot ETF is embracing celebrities’ growing interest in cannabis, sponsoring a UFC fighter nicknamed the Boa Constrictor.

In a highly unusual move for a provider of exchange-traded funds, ETF Managers Group LLC has signed on as the official training sponsor of Alexey Oleynik, the ninth-ranked heavyweight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a mixed-martial arts organization. The issuer is best known for the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF, which has about $1.1 billion invested in cannabis-related companies.

Several recent tweets from Oleynik’s Twitter account show him training — and even mowing the lawn — in T-shirts emblazoned with MJ, the pot ETF’s ticker, and the logo of ETF Managers Group. While most tweets don’t reference ETFs beyond tagging that fund and including ETFMG’s Twitter handle, one post in March described the company as an “ETF heavyweight.”

“It’s definitely not something you see as a common practice,” Tricia Vanderslice, ETFMG’s chief marketing officer, said in a phone interview. “We like to look at unique marketing that does justice to both the sector our product represents and the audience that we’re trying to hit and speak to and educate.”

MJ is one of the best-performing unleveraged U.S. ETFs of the year. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show that less than 12% of its shares are owned by institutional investors such as mutual funds. The UFC sponsorship is targeted at individual shareholders who don’t necessarily follow the financial media but may be big UFC fans, Vanderslice said.

“You hit that group of Average Joe investors that might be using E*Trade, they might be using Robinhood, and a big piece of that is brand awareness,” she said.

Read the full story on Bloomberg.

 

Lexie Brown Featured in The Athletic WNBA

‘Not going to pity myself’: The realities of players cut from WNBA rosters and what the league can do to fix it

By Tamryn Spruill

Second-year guard Lexie Brown also understands just how difficult it is to make it at this level. A self-described “girlie girl,” Brown says her Lynx teammates affectionately call her Beyoncé. But they know not to let her passion for makeup and fashion belie her ferocity on the basketball court. When we spoke on Friday, Brown was dealing with what has become a frequent occupational hazard: her toenails peeling off.

“I’ll just tape them back on,” she said nonchalantly.

While at Duke, Brown started every game she played in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons (she played her first two years at Maryland). Her senior season, Brown averaged 19.4 points for the Blue Devils, along with 4.4 assists, 4.4 rebounds and almost four steals per game.

Picked ninth overall by the Connecticut Sun in the 2018 WNBA Draft, Brown played 22 of 34 regular-season games and saw her playing time drop to 5.6 minutes per game. She averaged just 1.7 points per game. But Brown credits the effort she displayed as rookie with keeping her on the Sun roster.

“I think my work ethic is what got me on the Sun and kept me there because they didn’t necessarily need me last season,” Brown said. “So, I’m very thankful for the Connecticut Sun organization and coaching staff that they felt I brought something to the table that they didn’t have. But they very well could have been like, ‘No, I think we’re okay,’ and picked someone else.”

The bright side for those who don’t make the cut, according to Brown, is overseas opportunities where players can “make money and come back and be even better” — professional experience that could help a player returning to the U.S. finally cross the velvet rope into the exclusive sports league. And she believes players should feel proud of their accomplishments, even if they didn’t make a roster.

“The players who can’t make the team, they shouldn’t think that they did anything wrong, or that they’re not good enough,” Brown said. “It’s not their time yet.”

Brown was traded to the Lynx in April, and is thrilled to have a fresh start on a team that won a championship as recently as 2017. That Minnesota currently is retooling presents Brown with an opportunity for increased minutes and to thrive in her new role as shooting guard.

The day after we spoke, the Lynx won their season-opener against the Chicago Sky, 89-71, and Brown contributed 10 points, two steals and 2-of-2 free throws to the team’s winning effort. She played 22 minutes, a big jump up from the limited time she got with the Sun.

Wednesday night against the defending-champion Seattle Storm, Brown recorded 10 points, four assists, one steal and one offensive rebound in just under 21 minutes.

While Dillard did not get to play in a game with Brown, she made an impression on Brown during training camp.

“Cierra was probably the only player (at Buffalo) with a high basketball IQ, so you pretty much can go and do whatever you want (against opponents),” Brown said, noting that everyone at the WNBA level has a “pretty high basketball IQ.”

In the WNBA, with true centers who know how to guard and teams that know how to execute effective defensive switches to box guards out, playmaking and scoring opportunities don’t come easily, and it’s the guards who can adjust to these rigors, Brown said, who keep their roster spots.

“I think we had a very guard-heavy training camp, and I think Cierra did really well,” Brown said. “I think she held her own. But I think Coach Reeve was looking for a bigger, longer lineup outside of D-Rob (Danielle Robinson) and O (Odyssey Sims), which is what we have — a pretty long team, from top to bottom. It’s nothing that (Dillard) did wrong. I think she was super incredible at Buffalo and I think she did really well in training camp.”

In addition to Dillard’s on-court efforts in practice, Brown also was complimentary of her attitude.

“She has the best, most positive attitude I’ve ever seen,” Brown gushed. “Good vibes, always. Even when she made a mistake, she was always open to criticism and learning and that’s something in this league that’s going to benefit her in the long run. Because, as good as she was in college, she came here really humble and eager and ready to learn.”

*Note that the above is just one section of the story, to read the full-version, visit The Athletic.

Lexie Brown Shared Her Pregame Playlist With espnW

By Natalie Gingerich Mackenzie

Second-year WNBA player Lexie Brown is off to a solid start this season, with 10 points in the Minnesota Lynx’s game against the Chicago Sky on Saturday. The Duke grad, who’s the daughter of former NBA guard Dee Brown, gave us the rundown on the music that gets her going pre-game.

“Before games, when I’m getting ready, it’s chill vibes only! It helps me get locked in and focused,” Brown told us. Currently on repeat: “Losing” by H.E.R.

“But once I step on the court to shoot and stretch, its turn-up time. Anyone who knows me knows that I dance everywhere. So we gotta play something I can dance to before game time. It loosens me up and relaxes any nerves I have.”

Her current playlist:

View the story on espnW.

Chris Silva Navigates Draft Prep Process

By Andrew Ramspacher

He’s been to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in Virginia, the Professional Basketball Combine in California and to NBA practice facilities in Minneapolis and Atlanta. But on the weekend of May 10, Chris Silva put his draft prep on pause to be in Columbia, South Carolina.

“My agent made sure workouts were happening after graduation,” Silva said. “I told him I had to finish school first.”

Add a degree in interdisciplinary studies to top off Silva’s USC résumé. Seven years after arriving in America from Africa not knowing any English, Silva walked across the stage at Colonial Life Arena, diploma in hand.

“It means a great deal,” Silva said. “Just four years of work finally getting paying off.”

One life goal down. Another to go.

Silva told The State that he’s scheduled upcoming visits to the Charlotte Hornets and Sacramento Kings. This comes not long after performing at the Pro Basketball Combine and interviewing with the Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento.

The two-time All-SEC forward stays busy as the NBA draft approaches.

“I’m still going through the process,” Silva said. “The teams I’ve worked out with have given good feedback through my agent. I really improved my outside shot, my fadeaway shot. And I’m getting better in the post.”

Silva, who measured 6-foot-10 in shoes at the PBC (an inch taller than his listed height at USC), worked out for the Hawks on April 30 and for the Timberwolves on May 9. In Atlanta, he was kneed in the thigh during a defensive drill and could barely walk after the workout.

“The Atlanta workout was still good and they gave good feedback,” Silva said. “They love the way I shot the ball, my energy and the way I talk.”

He was bruised, though, and it limited his preparation for the Timberwolves.

“It was kind of difficult,” Silva said. “It was a lot of running. And knowing that I didn’t prepare that much for the workout, I was getting a little tired after a couple runs. But it wasn’t that bad. I think I shot the ball pretty well. But that’s the stuff that happens, you know?”

At the PBC, a secondary draft combine that still attracted NBA and G League personnel, Silva scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a scrimmage. He also had a max vertical leap of 37 inches and made 48 percent of his NBA range 3-point attempts.

“If there’s a guy that’s 6-10 and with a 37-inch vert, there’s incredible potential to move on,” said Jake Kelfer, the PBC’s founder and director. “The other thing I thought was pretty impressive was his shot, it’s better than I originally expected. I didn’t notice him taking too many NBA range shots this season. But he put the ball in the hole really well, he showed some things that I think will help with his translate ability to the next level.”

Kelfer, who used to work with the Los Angeles Lakers, said Silva is trending toward becoming a two-way contract candidate. Former Gamecock P.J. Dozier signed such an agreement with the Boston Celtics last August. A two-way contract means a player spends a bulk of their season in the G League and no more than 45 days with their NBA team.

“(NBA) Summer League is going to be something he’ll definitely be able to participate in,” Kelfer said. “And I think pending a good performance there, I think he’s gonna really be able to showcase that he’s one of the next best players around here. I think a two-way’s definitely in the realm of possibility for him.”

Silva said the PBC, which included fellow former Gamecock Hassani Gravett, was a chance to “make my point that I’m a good player in front of NBA scouts.”

The two-round, 60-pick draft is June 20.

“I hope this goes the way it’s supposed to go and I get drafted at the end of the process,” Silva said.

View the story on TheState.com.

NFL Alumni CEO Beasley Reece on ESPN Radio

Beasley Reece and Beyonce’s Homecoming

This week on the Rhoden Fellows Podcast, Bill, Janae and Tucker speak with the CEO of NFL Alumni, Beasley Reece about the work he’s doing to improve healthcare for retired NFL players. They also speak with Taryn Finley, editor for Huffington Post Black Voices about Beyonce’s Netflix film, “Homecoming.”

Listen here.

Chris Silva Signs with IPZ

COLUMBIA, S.C. + WARREN, N.J., April 4, 2019 – Chris Silva, two-time First Team All-SEC and All-Defensive Team selection at the University of South Carolina, has signed with IPZ, Silva and the company announced today.

The six-foot-nine forward hails from Libreville, Gabon and his journey to America has been well-chronicled. He played high school basketball in the United States for Roselle Catholic in New Jersey and won the 2013 Tournament of Champions with the Lions.

The South Carolina Gamecocks made a historic NCAA Tournament run to the Final Four in 2017, due, in large part, to Chris Silva. As a sophomore, Silva had a breakout season: he started all 37 games and averaged 10.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, and a team-high 1.4 blocks in 21.0 minutes per game. In the matchup against top-seeded Gonzaga, in South Carolina’s first ever Final Four appearance, Silva scored 13 points and secured 13 rebounds.

Silva continued to improve as an upperclassman and was crowned SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year for the 2017-18 campaign. Additionally, he was selected to the First Team All-SEC and All-Defensive Team in back-to-back seasons.

He also led the Gamecocks in multiple categories in his junior and senior years with, in his junior year, 14.3 points per game, 8.0 rebounds per game, 1.4 blocks per game, and he shot 46.7% from the field. In his senior year, Silva’s team leading figures included averaging 15.2 points/game, 7.6 rebounds/game, 1.9 blocks/game, with a field goal percentage of 50.8%, including 50% from three-point range.

Silva was recently named to the NABC All-District Second Team for his final season as a Gamecock.

“It was clear to all those who watched South Carolina’s games this season that Chris was the emotional and physical leader of the team, and one of the best players in the SEC,” said Robert Zito, Managing Partner of IPZ. “His relationship with his coach and teammates as a student, leader, and teammate was evident.”

Silva is the only player in the history of South Carolina’s program to record at least 700 rebounds and 500 free throws in his career. He earned multiple academic honors as a student-athlete and will graduate this year with a degree in IT.

“I am so appreciative of the opportunity the coaching staffs in high school and college – and all my teammates – gave me and I look forward to the road ahead with the team at IPZ,” said Silva.

“In 34 years of coaching, I don’t think I’ve had a player work as hard as Chris Silva to get better,” said Frank Martin, Head Basketball Coach at South Carolina. “He is an unbelievable young man of tremendous character who is a really really good basketball player.”

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

MMA + MJ etf

N.J.-based marijuana ETF finds unusual spokesman in MMA heavyweight

By Tom Bergeron

Apr 4, 2019

 

At first glance, a mixed martial arts star promoting an exchange-traded fund for cannabis may not seem like the most logical fit.

Especially one based in New Jersey, where proponents of legalizing recreational use of marijuana suffered another setback last week.

Sam Masucci doesn’t see it that way.

Masucci is the CEO of the Summit-based ETF Managers Group, which created MJ, the country’s first ETF dedicated to stocks in cannabis-related companies, in December 2017. He said the hiring last week of MMA heavyweight Alexey Oleynik to promote it is a perfect fit, for a number of reasons.

Starting with the fact that Masucci, a former Penn State wrestler who competed scholastically at the now-closed Bayley Ellard High School in Madison, loves the sport.

“I have been a big MMA fan for 20 years,” he said. “I’ve actually been a martial artist for 20 years. I like to watch these fighters really show the value of mixed martial arts — meaning it’s everything from punching and kicking and submissions.

“I love it, and I always hoped that there’d be an opportunity for me to somehow be involved. This is a great way to do it.”

Read the rest here: http://www.roi-nj.com/2019/04/04/finance/mma-mj-n-j-based-marijuana-etf-finds-unusual-spokesman-in-mma-heavyweight/

ETFMG teams up with UFC heavyweight

ETFMG teams up with UFC heavyweight

Summit-based ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF MJ – issued by ETF Managers Group, a group family of exchange traded funds – announced it will sponsor Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight Alexey Oleynik.

“The Boa Constrictor” Oleynik is one of the top heavyweights in the world and is a career mixed martial artist. He takes on Walt Harris in UFC Fight Night 150 on May 4, in Ottawa, Canada.

MJ is the largest cannabis exchange-traded fund in the world and the first and only U.S. listed ETF to target the global cannabis industry directly. MJ joined the “billion-dollar club” on Feb. 4, surpassing $1 billion in assets under management.

“MJ is a heavyweight in the ETF industry,” said Oleynik. “It has had a great deal of success and I look forward to watching it continue to knock out its competition. My wife and I are excited to be able to represent a world-class financial group like ETFMG and a product like MJ.”

Lou Fusz Athletic To Offer Naming Rights For Complex

ST. LOUIS, March 14, 2019 – Lou Fusz Athletic (LFA) will offer the naming rights to its complex, one of the most visited athletic facilities in the Midwest, the organization announced today.

Approximately 1.2 million people visit LFA’s facilities annually and this number is continually growing. LFA is home to hundreds of teams and thousands of camp participants, between the ages of five and 18, across multiple sports, with family members of all ages in attendance to watch. LFA also hosts numerous soccer and lacrosse tournaments throughout the year which bring nearly 100,000 families from the greater St. Louis area to its facilities.

The Lou Fusz Athletic Training Center at Rams Park, the former home of the St. Louis Rams, is a 300,000 square foot facility and acts as the hub for all LFA teams, tournaments, and camps. With its state-of-the-art indoor fields, outdoor fields, and amenities, such as strength/speed/agility training rooms, a weight room, a rehab and physical therapy room, and an auditorium for presentations, the LFA Training Center receives visitors year-round.

“As a club, this facility reminds us every day of the professional nature of our approach,” said Dan Gargan, Managing Director of LFA, and a 10-year MLS veteran. “It has been home to world class athletes who showed up every day to better their craft. We connect our core values to that approach and work every day to enhance the lives of the athletes and families we serve.”

“This facility offers one of the most attractive family environments in the country,” said Robert Zito, Managing Partner of IPZ, who will manage the marketing process. “There is a tremendous opportunity here for a local or national brand to build equity, as the continued growth of Lou Fusz Athletic and its exciting vision for the future of the club and facility will only add to its attractiveness.”

About Lou Fusz Athletic 

Lou Fusz Athletic (“LFA”) is a 501(c)3 youth sports club and the charitable arm of the Lou Fusz Automotive Network. LFA’s objective is to align you with unique touch-points of the club’s family of players and fans through various branding opportunities and events.

About IPZ

IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.