Oleg Prudius Challenges Brock Lesnar to MMA Fight

Former WWE Tag Team Champion “The Moscow Mauler” Vladimir Kozlov was recently a guest on The Roman Show. Kozlov said that he would like to challenge current WWE Universal Champion and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar to a mixed martial arts fight.

Before signing with WWE back in 2006, Kozlov did have a fairly extensive background in various different forms of Martial Arts, including kickboxing, Russian Sambo, Judo, amateur wrestling, and Jiu-Jitsu.

Kozlov said the following on The Roman Show:

Wanting to face Brock Lesnar in an MMA fight:

“When I got signed with the WWE and when I was undefeated for a couple of years, fans wanted to see if I could fight Brock Lesnar. But at the time, I couldn’t find him because he left the WWE and he went to the UFC,” he said. “Since I left the WWE, he got back to the WWE from the UFC, so we couldn’t face each other. Right now everyone is asking me if I would challenge Brock Lesnar in an MMA fight. I am telling you if were to get this opportunity, I would like to face this animal. I would put in all my hard work. I will give up my productions. I’ll give up my movies, everything, to compete with the best athlete in the world, Brock Lesnar. He is strong, professional. I think the person who fights him deserves it because he is a legend. If I get this opportunity, I will train hard and face this animal. I spoke to Scott Coker of Bellator. At the time I was busy with productions,” he said. “I was in many projects because of traveling, but for a big fight like that, I will train and put everything on the table.”

Possibly returning to WWE in the future:

“WWE stays in my heart,” he said. “I am popular because of the WWE. When I used to wrestle, I created a fan base. Even in China, they know me because of WWE. The WWE is one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world. I didn’t think of joining the WWE because I was busy, but if the opportunity will come then we can figure it out. I have a management group who decides what we are supposed to do. Let’s see what happens.”

C.M. Punk’s MMA career:

“He is a great guy. He is a hard worker. This guy can sacrifice himself to follow his dream,” he said. “Since he left the WWE, his dream was to fight in the UFC. I think he can put on a very nice fight. I like C.M. Punk. He is a nice guy.”

View the story at Wrestling News Source.

Alexey Oleynik in Men’s Health

The UFC’s Alexey Oleynik – How the 40-Year-Old ‘Boa Constrictor’ Stays in Elite Shape

By Vinnie Mancuso

At 40, Alexey Oleynik is one of the oldest fighters competing in the UFC. But it’s a different, far more impressive number that earned Oleynik his “Boa Constrictor” nickname: 45, the record-breaking tally of submission victories the Ukrainian grappler has collected over his 20-year MMA career.

The heavyweight — who holds an overall MMA record of 55-11-2, 4-2 in the UFC — took a moment away from training for his May 12 bout against Junior Albini at UFC 224 to chat with MensHealth.com.

SO HOW EXACTLY DOES THE 4O-YEAR GET INTO FIGHTING SHAPE?

“In reality, I’m already in top shape year-round,” Oleynik said through a translator. According to the fighter, the months before entering the octagon is more of a fine tune-up than anything. “It’s like a train. It’s already moving, you just want to get on the right rail and move in the right direction.”

That direction doesn’t involve as much maxing out as you’d expect from UFC’s heaviest weight class. “It’s concentrating more on endurance of the muscle than the size of the muscle,” Oleynik said.

He added that because he’s a “submission artist,” he doesn’t want to “put on big muscles, to look like an Adonis. If I develop a very big chest and look like a bodybuilder, it would be hard for me to choke somebody out.”

The Workout

Oleynik’s training camp consists of 14 to 16 sessions a week, broken down into hour-and-twenty-minute periods. The first 30 minutes is always dedicated to cardio, with a focus on keeping up explosiveness over a long period of time.

CARDIO (30 MINUTES)

For strength training, Oleynik focuses especially on repetition over weight. “If I’m doing 6 to 8 reps with the heavy weight, I develop more size. I don’t need that,” he said. “My coaches know I need lighter weight, 15 to 20 reps.”

STRENGTH TRAINING (50 MINUTES)

The most important exercise of the day, Oleynik said, is a classic combination of both cardio and strength training: the sit-up.

“When you’re doing sit-ups your diaphragm constantly gets compressed, so it throws you off in terms of breathing,” he said. “This is what happens in a fight. So every time my training is over, I go down and have to finish at least 100 sit-ups with a twist.”

Recovery

Oleynik broke down some of the recovery routines that have kept him mostly injury-free over a decades-long career.

NUTRITION

“The most important thing when it comes to recovery, and actually the entire process of training, is nutrition,” Oleynik said. As a heavyweight, the fighter is in the unique position of technically being able to gain as much weight as he wants. But the 40-year-old has been able to compete at a high level for so long because his diet still consists mostly of lean meat, vegetables, and natural fats. “I coach my body as a working machine. Whatever you put in your body, that’s the outcome you’re going to have. Whatever gas you put in a car, that’s how fast it’s going to go.”

SLEEP

“You must, must sleep during training,” Oleynik told us, a feat easier said than done for the father of five. “That’s the tricky part. Some of my kids are young, they wake up in the night, they have to pee, or they want to eat.”

On average, he says, Oleynik sleeps 6 hours a night, but makes sure to sneak in an extra hour or two throughout the day.

RELAXATION

For Oleynik, the recovery process is as mental as it is physical, training your mind to switch gears when you leave the gym. Usually this starts with either an ice bath or quick stay in the sauna, but then it’s putting the fight out of mind until the next session.

“What I’m trying to do is, I’m trying to switch my mindset,” Oleynik told us. “I’m going with my kids to the zoo, to the movies, doing family things. You have to switch your mind from all the hard work and totally relax. Totally zoom out and concentrate on something, anything else.”

View the story on MensHealth.com.

JAMIE CHERRY JOINS THE IPZ FAMILY

UNC Tarheel Signs on as IPZ Athlete

WARREN, NJ, March 23, 2018 – Jamie Cherry, a top-scorer for the University of North Carolina Tarheels for the past three seasons, has signed with IPZ, the company announced today.

Cherry is a Cove City, North Carolina, native who ranks second in the state’s history with 3,210 career points in high school, just 15 shy of the record. After being nominated as a McDonald’s All-American in 2014, Cherry began her collegiate career at Chapel Hill.

The 5-foot-8 point guard became a mainstay in the Tarheels’ starting lineup as a sophomore and averaged 13.6 points, 3.8 assists, and 2.7 rebounds per game. She also shot 81.3 percent from the free throw line.

In the 2016-17 season, Cherry eclipsed the 1,000 point mark for UNC and posted a stat line of 14.9 ppg, 3.4 apg, 3.3 rpg, and connected on 37.7 percent of her attempts from beyond the arc.

In her senior year, Cherry recorded her best overall game as a Tarheel against rival Duke on January 21, 2018, when she posted a double-double comprised of 22 points, 13 assists, and 4 steals. As a senior, Cherry increased her per game averages across the board: 15.4 points, 4.5 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.9 steals. She also shot 82.9 percent from the stripe and ultimately finished with a career free throw percentage of 80.9 percent, which is second best in school history.

“I chose IPZ because of the family-like atmosphere,” said Cherry. “I feel that IPZ will give me personalized attention and help me reach my full-potential as a professional basketball player.”

“First and foremost, Jamie is a class-act,” said Kyrsten Van Natta, IPZ’s WNBA Agent. “Over the past four years, Jamie has given every morsel of herself to the Tarheels. There’s no question in my mind that she will do the same for every team she is a part of. She’s improved year after year. I look forward to watching her continue to grow on-and-off the court.”

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.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

DAN GARGAN SELECTS IPZ

Atlanta United Broadcaster Will Be Represented By Media + Entertainment Group

WARREN, NJ, March 22, 2018 – Dan Gargan, former professional soccer player and current Atlanta United FC broadcaster, has signed with IPZ, the company announced today.

Gargan, a Philadelphia native and graduate of Georgetown University, started his professional soccer career in Major League Soccer (MLS) after being drafted by the Colorado Rapids in 2005. During his 12-year MLS career, Gargan made over 200 appearances with Colorado, Toronto FC, Chicago Fire, San Jose Earthquakes and LA Galaxy, where he won the 2014 MLS Cup.

After retiring from professional soccer, Dan took a deeper interest in becoming a sports media personality. Gargan served as the broadcast analyst for the LA Galaxy in 2015 and 2016, before joining the Atlanta United broadcast team as a color analyst in 2017.

Gargan will continue as a member of Atlanta’s broadcast team for the 2018 season. All games are televised by FOX Sports South and FOX Sports Southeast.

“Growing up in Philadelphia, a connection and love of sports is not a choice, it’s a religion,” said Gargan. “Having traveled around the world and the U.S. playing the game I love has offered me an opportunity to see and engage with so many great sports towns and the fans that fuel them. Everyone at IPZ has been great already helping connect the dots and put me in positions to breathe in that atmosphere.”

“Dan is a natural as a broadcaster,” said Patricia Stark, managing director of IPZ’s Media + Entertainment Group. “With his deep knowledge of soccer and sports in general, Dan is engaging, funny, insightful and simultaneously possesses great energy and ease in front of the camera. Dan is such a likable commentator be it with a co-host, a panel or connecting directly with the viewer. I’m very excited to have Dan join the IPZ family and I see great things on the horizon for him in the broadcasting world.”

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.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

The Set Pieces Sits Down with Jack Elliott

From London Amateur to MLS Professional: Interview with Philadelphia Union’s Jack Elliott

By Greg Lea

The path between European football and Major League Soccer has become a well-trodden one in recent years, with Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, David Villa, Thierry Henry, Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard and Kaka among those who have crossed the Atlantic in the latter stages of their career.

It isn’t just high-profile stars in their 30s who have made the move stateside, though. Philadelphia Union centre-back Jack Elliott was born in London but has only ever played professional football in the US, having been scouted while representing an amateur team in his hometown. It’s safe to say the switch from Sunday League to MLS, via the West Virginia University team, has been a surreal one for the 22-year-old.

“It was a crazy experience playing against them,” Elliott tells The Set Pieces, referring to opponents such as David Villa, Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore, all of whom the centre-back locked horns with in his debut campaign of 2017.

“Luckily I started off easy playing my first start at home against David Villa! But it was amazing. He’s one of the toughest strikers I’ve played against. His movement and speed are still world class, making him a difficult opponent to play against.”

Trying to keep a World Cup winner quiet is a very different challenge to marking a hungover centre-forward on a mud-caked pitch in south London, but Elliott owes plenty to his experiences in the English capital’s amateur divisions.

“I played for Fulham academy for a year when I was 12, but I got released and then mainly just played Sunday league and school football. As I got older I moved into men’s football, where I was spotted by a coach [Dan Stratford] from West Virginia University – he was playing in the same game. He asked me if I wanted to go and play over there, and I had no second thoughts about it.”

It was an incredibly exciting proposition for a football-mad teenager who had long dreamt of a professional career, but the prospect of suddenly moving more than 3500 miles from home must have been daunting too. Thankfully for Elliott, he arrived in West Virginia to find a terrific setup both on and off the pitch.

“You train as a professional almost every day, working around a regular university life, and it’s surprisingly professional: the facilities are top-class, the pitches are good and you’re well looked after with gear and equipment,” the defender says of his experience in the US college system, which allows promising young athletes to combine sport and education. Does he think such an arrangement could work in Europe?

“I’m not sure it’s better in terms of producing top quality players, but it helps to catch the ones who may have slipped through the cracks of the top academies,” says Elliott, who received an academic scholarship to study Management Information Systems in the US.

“Going through the college system allows you to get a degree, which was one of the reasons I had no questions about it, but the quality of football, facilities and fans are something I might not have experienced had I stayed at home.”

The 6ft 5in stopper played 68 games for the West Virginia Mountaineers between 2013 and 2016, before being selected by Philadelphia Union in the fourth round of the 2017 SuperDraft, an annual event in which MLS clubs snap up players who have either graduated from college or been signed by the league.

“It was one of the best days of my life,” Elliott recalls. “Philadelphia was a place I’d been many times before and really enjoyed, plus it wasn’t too far from West Virginia.”

The young defender, described by Union sporting director Earnie Stewart as a “good passer who reads the game well”, was an unused substitute for early-season meetings with Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto and Orlando City, before making his MLS bow from the bench in a 2-1 loss to D.C. United. Elliott performed well despite the disappointing result, and he soon became a regular part of manager Jim Curtin’s starting XI.

“It all happened very quickly. The second game of the season I was in the 18 [matchday squad] for the first team, and then I played 45 minutes at D.C.,” he told the club’s YouTube channel.

“It allowed the coaches to see I could handle the pressure of the league. And then the next week I was starting. It all came very quickly and I’m very thankful for it.

“When I got subbed in, I had 15 minutes to think about it. It’s not a lot of time; I was just warming up. It was good that I didn’t have time to think about it. I just went out there and played the way I play.”

It can be particularly tough for young centre-backs to establish themselves in the first team, with many managers unwilling to risk inexperienced players in such a key position. Yet by the end of the 2017 season, Elliott had made 30 appearances in MLS and racked up more minutes than all but two of his Union team-mates.

The quality of his performances caught the eye even more than the quantity. The Londoner played with a maturity which belied his tender years, as the Union finished eighth in the Eastern Conference. Elliott’s displays were so consistently impressive that he was nominated for the MLS Rookie of the Year Award, which was ultimately won by Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel.

“I didn’t expect to play as much [as I did], no,” he admits. “But from my first few weeks there I could see it was a place where I could belong.

“It was a good feeling,” he adds when talk turns to his third-place finish in the newcomer vote. “I’d never have expected to be there at the start of the year, so it was nice to get that sort of recognition at the end of it.”

Compatriot Aaron Jones departed the Talen Energy Stadium in November, but Elliott isn’t the only Brit in the Union squad for the 2018 campaign, which has begun with a 2-0 victory over New England Revolution and a goalless draw with Columbus Crew. Former Arsenal and Hull forward Jay Simpson is also in his second year in MLS, having moved to Philadelphia from Leyton Orient a few weeks before Elliott signed on the dotted line.

“Football in the US is still growing so obviously it isn’t as big as it is in the UK,” Elliott says of the differences between the two countries. “As kids they don’t play it every day in school and they don’t see it as much on TV. I feel kids here don’t get to play enough unstructured football, which in some ways can help to develop a player in different ways than structured coaching does.”

It’s an interesting point and one which the powers that be at the US Soccer Federation would be wise to consider as the national team attempts to bounce back from its failure to qualify for this summer’s World Cup. Elliott cannot afford to dwell on such big-picture issues for too long, though, with his focus now firmly on his second season with the Union.

“Individually I’d like to build on what I did last year and improve as a player,” he says of his hopes for the campaign ahead. “And as a team our ambition is to get to the play-offs and make a run there.”

If Elliott can replicate last season’s performances this time around, Philadelphia Union will fancy their chances of achieving that goal.

View on The Set Pieces.

The coach…and his pizza.

It takes $2 and a pizza to get Bob Hurley Sr. into a HS hoops game these days | Politi

“Two seniors, please.”

The man behind the ticket table at the Seton Hall Prep gymnasium has spent the past 45 minutes making change for a steady line of customers, so he barely looks up from the cash box when he hears the latest request. Then he catches a glimpse of the gray-haired man standing in front of him.

His eyes go wide.

His hand shoots out.

Bob Hurley Sr. shakes it and smiles. He is the most accomplished high school basketball coach in this state’s history — maybe in any state’s history — but here, before a game in the state tournament he used to dominate, he is just another customer.

He has to pay his $2.

He and his wife, Chris, head inside the gymnasium, and almost immediately, a dozen heads pivot in their direction. A fan in the bleachers whispers to his buddy and points. The referees, the coaches, the athletic directors — anyone within a few footsteps stops to say hello.

It seems totally normal, of course. Hurley, 70, has spent nearly his entire life in gymnasium like this one, including 45 years as head coach of powerhouse St. Anthony in Jersey City. Why wouldn’t he be here at the West Orange school for a playoff game against St. Peter’s Prep?

Little did everyone know that Hurley has attended just a handful of games this season, and in order to just get the Naismith Hall of Fame coach into this gym, we had to bribe him.

With pizza.

Read the full story on NJ.com.

Randy Reed to Play in Argentina

IPZ Athlete Will Continue 2017-18 Campaign with Centro Español Plottier

WARREN, NJ, March 5, 2018 – Randy Reed has signed a professional contract with Centro Español Plottier (Argentina – TNA) for the remainder of the 2017-18 season.

Reed began his sophomore season as a pro with Al Ittihad (Saudi Arabia – SBL) and averaged 23.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.9 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game through seven contests. He also shot 64.7% from the field and 43.6% from beyond the arc; Reed led his team to a 6-1 record.

“I’m blessed to be going to play in my third country, it never gets old,” said Reed. “When I was 16, nobody would’ve, honestly, thought I would be on my third professional team. I’m looking forward to going to Argentina to play for Centro Español Plottier to make a playoff/championship push. I can’t wait to get started. Thank you, God.”

“We couldn’t be happier that Randy has signed with Centro Español Plottier,” said IPZ Managing Director Jeff Curtin. “He’s an amazing player and hard-worker who deserves the opportunity to continue showcasing his skills and helping his team win games. We are confident that Argentina will be a terrific place for Randy to advance his career.”

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.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

Alexey Oleynik’s Story Covered by MMA Fighting

Alexey Oleynik felt ‘utterly helpless’ with daughter at Parkland school during shooting

On Feb. 14, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. was the site of the most recent major American school shooting. Seventeen people were murdered and another 14 were taken to the hospital as a result of the attack. It was one of the deadliest shootings in American history, and for the students and parents involved in the attack, it was a nightmare, including UFC heavyweight contender Alexey Oleynik.

Oleynik’s daughter, Polina Oleynik, is a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who was in attendance on the day of the attack. Yesterday, a few weeks removed from the shooting, Oleynik wrote a piece for ABC News about what it was like for him while his daughter was in an attack like that one, calling the experience “terrifying” and saying he felt “utterly helpless.”

“Nothing in 52 professional fights was as terrifying as a text I received on Valentine’s Day from my 16-year old daughter, Polina,” wrote Oleynik.

View the full story on MMAFighting.com.

School Shooting Reminds Alexey Oleynik He’s a Father First

ABC News Helps the UFC Fighter Share His Story

By Alexey Oleynik

As an Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter, I step into the Octagon and have to remain calm so I can face down the world’s most brutal athletes. Training to be physically and mentally ready for cage fighting demands that I assess my opponent’s fiercest skill — perhaps a left-leg kick or a knock-out jab — and develop a strategy to win.

However, nothing in 52 professional fights was as terrifying as a text I received on Valentine’s Day from my 16-year old daughter, Polina.

“Daddy, there is a shooting at my school.”

I read the text again just to make sure it was correct — it was. As the father of five kids, ages 2 to 16, I was consumed by thoughts of death and violence. My daughter is a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and was texting me from the mass shooting that would claim 17 lives and injure many more. Thankfully, Polina survived and was uninjured, but for several hours I struggled to retain the composure I have during fights. Her text reminded me that I am a father first, and a fighter second.My mixed martial arts nickname is “The Boa Constrictor” because I regularly choke my opponents into submission. But, this text, received as I was preparing to leave for Russia on a work trip, left me feeling utterly helpless. My daughter updated my wife and me with a text message every 10 minutes or so. Each text gave us the gift we wanted more than anything else — knowing she was safe, for now. Then, between each text, I felt powerless, feeling a growing sense of panic.

For a while, we watched the local television to learn some details, but we turned it off, horrified to see the unfolding scenes. This lack of control is every parent’s worst nightmare and was more harrowing for me than any UFC fight experience. In between Polina’s texts, we tried to figure out how to get close to the school to retrieve her.

The reality is, as a professional fighter, I have the luxury of preparing for months for each fight. I train my body to peak fitness and develop a mental strategy to overcome my opponent’s biggest threat. All that preparation, study, visualization and training gives me a tremendous feeling of control. When my daughter was sending me her texts, I was scared because I had no control over her situation.Eventually, we managed to get close enough to the school so we could pick up Polina. She had escaped unharmed, thanks to the brave assistance from her teachers and school staff. Just as my fighting career owes a great deal to advance preparation, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school staff had carried out many emergency drills. That preparation helped to keep the children relatively calm on the day of the shooting and probably reduced the number of casualties. Of course, many parents and relatives lost loved ones. My family sends our deepest condolences to each and every one of those families that are now grieving.

When I moved my family to Florida in December of 2016, at first I was attracted to the area because of the American Top Team training facility in Coconut Creek. UFC President Dana White has praised the team’s work, saying it’s among the few places capable of producing world champions. My wife and I also loved the schools, the great police and fire departments, the good housing, and the area’s low crime rate. It seemed like the ideal place to train and raise a family. For someone who hopes to soon become a naturalized U.S. citizen, this seemed like a small slice of heaven.

Despite the recent horror, I still feel that way. My daughter will continue attending her school and we will continue calling Florida home. Where we live was safe before this horrific shooting, and it remains a safe place now.

Now, we are trying to regain normality in our everyday lives.

On Monday, Polina left the house alone in her car — a normal experience for most Florida teenagers. As her father, I had to again relinquish my desire for control and let her try to enjoy the freedom she still has even after her recent, tragic ordeal. And, while I am relatively new to U.S. politics, I do know about the psychology of winning battles. More than anything, this experience reminds me that we cannot allow our spirit to be broken and for fear to overcome us.

In the long run in sports and life, strength and fortitude carry us through the hard times.

View the story on ABC News.

OLEG PRUDIUS SIGNS WITH IPZ

Former WWE Superstar (a.k.a. Vladimir Kozlov) to be Represented by Both Combat Sports and Entertainment Divisions

WARREN, NJ, February 27, 2018 – Oleg Prudius, also known as Vladimir Kozlov from his days as a WWE Superstar, has signed with IPZ, the company announced today.

Prudius officially began his career as an entertainer in 2002 and one of his first projects was Spike Lee’s 2002 film 25th Hour in which he played a small role. The following year, Prudius appeared in multiple episodes of the HBO series The Wire.

The six-foot-three Ukrainian-American then took a short break from acting to pursue combat sports competitively. In 2005, Prudius became the USA Open Heavyweight Sambo Champion and a United States Kick-Boxing Association (USKBA) International Heavyweight Grappling Champion.

A year later, Prudius decided to combine his expertise in combat sports with his passion for entertaining and embarked on his journey as a professional wrestler. In December 2006, Prudius made an appearance as a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) prospect on Raw under the name Vladimir Kozlov. The ring name stuck.

From 2006 to 2011, Kozlov was a mainstay on the brand’s various programs: WWE Raw, WWE SmackDown, WWE NXT, and WWE Superstars. Simultaneously, from 2007 to 2010, Kozlov also played a significant role in a show created by WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon called Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW).

Prudius dove into another element of entertainment when he voiced his character Vladimir Kozlov in two video games: WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2011 and WWE ’12.

Kozlov competed in his last WWE match on an episode of SmackDown that aired on August 5, 2011. Prudius decided to continue his professional wrestling career in Japan for the Inoki Genome Federation and assumed a somewhat new ring name, Alexander Kozlov. On October 16, 2012, Prudius retired from professional wrestling.

Since, Prudius has returned to acting in films and television shows. In 2013, he starred in 30 Cuts Deep and appeared in an episode of USA Network’s Burn Notice.

In 2016, the WWE did a Where Are They Now? feature on Prudius and it has amassed the most views of any in the series with more than 1.2 million and counting.

In 2017, Prudius had roles in three films, all hits in the box office. He appeared in John Wick: Chapter 2 and the eighth installment of the famed Fast & Furious franchise, The Fate of the Furious. The third and most recent film he acted in is the second highest-grossing film of all-time in a single market. Wolf Warrior 2 grossed more than $874 million in the Chinese box office and it became the only non-Hollywood film ever to be included in the list of 100 all-time highest-grossing films worldwide. Prudius played the role of Bear, the muscle of the villains.

“For an athlete, pro-wrestler, actor and producer like me, the notion of a brand or product with recognizable quality is paramount,” said Prudius. “I have achieved the highest accolades in combat sports, built a recognizable name in the WWE and the entertainment industry, but I always strive to get to the next level – to create a name brand like Michael Jordan or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Bob Zito, managing partner of IPZ, has an impeccable reputation, experience and understanding of business, a wide network of contacts across various industries ranging from entertainment and sports to pharmaceuticals and finance. I like the fact that Bob was able to put together a young team of dedicated people that have vision, knowledge, a worldwide reach and all the other necessary tools to produce great results and benefits for everyone involved. This is why being represented by IPZ is a sensible choice for me.”

“I’m happy to announce that we, at IPZ, have added Oleg to our Combat Sports and Media + Entertainment groups,” said Alec Savitsky, IPZ’s director of combat sports. “As a champion fighter, former WWE superstar, and accomplished actor, Oleg has built a brand recognized worldwide. We are excited to explore new opportunities with Oleg and help him continue to expand in all facets of his career.”

“Oleg has always attacked everything he does in life with passion, and that will be welcomed by brands,” said Robert Zito, IPZ managing partner. “He also works his butt off, never looking for star treatment. He’s got a blue collar attitude that I personally love.”

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.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.