A Tournament That Has No Winner Or Loser: Anti-Fascist Martial Arts Tournament
The third of the Anti-Fascist Martial Arts Tournament in Greece was organized in Katsaneio Hall in Thessaloniki on 17th, 18th, and 19th of June. We are sharing an Interview with Malamas Sotirious and Anna Kavoura who took place in the Tournament.
MG: How long The Anti-Fascist Martial Arts Tournament has been organized? How did this kind of idea come to your mind?
Malamas: This year we are organizing the tournament for the third time. We thought that we could organize a tournament like this because we had experience before, and also we thought that as anti-authoritarians and anarchists it would be very nice to make that kind of thing real. We discussed it among us, and then we decided to do it.
MG:Which branches of Martial Arts are involved in the tournament?
Malamas: The branches that are involved in the tournament are boxing, kick box, jiu jitsu, muay thai, MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and wrestling.
MG: Is it possible to attend the tournament individually? Are there collectives, squads or social centers that attend the tournaments as teams? If so, what are their names?
Malamas: Yes, it is possible to attend the tournament individually. Besides that, there are many squads, collectives and social centers which are participating in the tournament. Those collectives, squads and social centers also help us a lot and show their solidarity during the organization of the tournament. Some of those are Micropolis and Sholeio social centers in Thessaloniki, a squad called Terra Incognita which is also in Thessaloniki, and some other squads in Kavala.
MG: Is it allowed for women to join the tournament?
Malamas: Of course, it is. In last years, there were women fighting against men . There isn’t any restriction about that, but sometimes it is hard for a woman to match with a man because of some issues, such as weight or branch of martial arts. If they are okay with the match, and also if a man and a woman want to fight with each other, then they l can. In the tournament, it is possible for a woman to fight against a man.
MG: In some photographs, we see that both of the fighters raise their hands just like they are both winners.
Malamas: In the Anti-Fascist Martial Arts Tournament, there isn’t any winner or loser. That is why in those photos both fighters are raising their hands. We discussed that whether it would be good to assign a winner and a loser or not before, but we are against competition and any kind of dominance, especially in sports. We don’t want any kind of competition or anger in the tournament, and also to destroy solidarity and sharing among us. We are organizing this tournament for solidarity and also to remain together against fascism. In order not to face with these kind of problems, we take the personal capabilities and characteristics of the fighters into consideration while pairing them, so that in the tournament, fighters can enjoy to be in that kind of physical activity and have fun instead of knocking out other fighters.
MG: So, why do you call it “the tournament”?
Malamas: We don’t believe that the aim of a tournament is to assign winners and losers. For us, a tournament means to be part of a togetherness
MG: What do you do when you encounter problems that are against the principles of the tournament, such as ambition to knock out or sexist swearwords?
Malamas: Up to now, we have never faced any sexist swearwords.
Anna: I have been attending the tournament for two years, and when I first attended I found the concept of the tournament a little weird. There was no winner and there was no loser. That is why I had some doubts about the success of these tournaments, but during this process, I realized that the tournament had a very nice atmosphere. I have seen very successful show-downs, and also very successful fighters. All those fighters naturally want to put a good fight there. The audience protested the man with negative acclamations, and showed that they disapprove what he has done. People in the tournament doesn’t want to see someone get beaten; they want to feel the solidarity between the fighters, to see them respect each other and have some good time.
Are there any other events in the tournament? If so, what are they?
The tournament takes place for three days. Panels, meetings and speeches are done on the first day. Fights are done on the last two days. For example, last year the topic of the speeches was the struggle against fascism in Big Cities. There were lots of people attending from different places, such as Italy, Sweden, Athens, etc… For example, a person made a speech about fascism in the football industry, how hooligans can be violent and fascist and what are the reasons of it. Another person made a speech about the fascism in Germany. A person who came from Italy, who was also the boxing champion of Italy, made a speech about a sports center which was operated with the principle of self-organization, and also the solidarity and communication network of this kind of sports centers. On the first day of the tournament, we share that kind of information before show-downs
Do you see the advantages of martial arts in the street?
Malamas: (laughing) Yes, probably. Actually yes, we DO see the advantages, definitely.
Have you ever encountered any fascist attacks or police attacks to the tournament?
Malams: No, we haven’t. But once we saw a declaration that Neo-Nazi Party made. In the declaration there was written something like they were disturbed by the existence of a such tournament. Of course they were going to be, it is something to be expected because fascist groups find “soldiers” for themselves in this field, and they consider us and our tournament as a “threat” for themselves.
Thank you for the interview. Always in solidarity…
Interview: Zeynep Coşkunkan – Furkan Çelik
This interview was published in the 34. volume of Meydan Newspaper.