7 year old youth Pankration competitor on CNN

by Kirik Jenness |

 When mainstream media looks at MMA, the results can be comical, sometimes dangerously so.

For example, a number of sites inlcuding ESPN are now citing the number of children under the age of 13 participating in MMA in the USA as 3,200,000, and the number of gyms as 30,000. As the sport's official records keeper, over the past five years, we have issued only 30k licenses to fight, which would mean each imaginary school produces one fighter every five years, an absurdity.

As the commissioner of NAGA, I have my finger on the pulse of youth grappling competitors, and the figure of 3,000,000 kids doing MMA (approximately 1/20) is lunatic. By comparison, the New York Times cites the number of youth Soccer players in the USA at a comparable 4,000,000. The youth MMA figure is 50% higher than the number of kids playing Little League. The figures, and the reporting, are stupid.

It is sad when the UG Blog with all its made up headlines corrects the mainstream media, but the truth is the truth. And the truth is, where MMA is concerned, mainstream media does not just sensationalize, they spread untruths with impunity.

Kyra Phillips' Raising America recently profiled a youth Pankration (no face strikes or punching on the ground) competitor in California. Although the piece was not particularly slanted, the potential for irresponsible journalism around youth MMA and youth grappling is huge.

Below Phillips talks to one mom, Bernadette Thorne, and her son Aiden, who was actually a pretty good spokesboy for the martial arts.


tags: video   Aiden Thorne   


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Recent Comments »

spartancs site profile image  

2/9/13 1:29 AM by spartancs

My three kids have competed regularly in this league since 2007.  I'd be glad to answer any questions you have. I know Jon very well and am on the coaches committee.  Cheers.

RPBJJ site profile image  

2/7/13 8:57 AM by RPBJJ

3 million kids under the age of 13 cage fight? where the hell did this come from?Did they call random kids and just ask them? Thats Hetarded!

awesomestprime site profile image  

2/7/13 8:43 AM by awesomestprime

Jon I'd love to have some dialogue about youth Pankration. I understand if you wouldn't want to do it on here, if not shoot me a PM, if so I only have a few questions I'd love to pick your brain about. I have a 10 year old son whom has shown increasing interest. I won't take much of your time, and I'd appreciate any information/opinions you could give me. Thanks you in advance

slumdog site profile image  

2/6/13 11:21 PM by slumdog


Kirik site profile image  

2/6/13 10:34 PM by Kirik

Thanks Jon!

jfrank site profile image  

2/6/13 10:14 PM by jfrank

Its all good, we couldn't get any exposure before the ESPN story last month, now we have so many media sources interested, eventually we will link with a honest one. Some of the kids featured in these stories are being offered contacts and sponsorship so any exposure is good exposure as long as we do everything correctly regarding safety and fairness. This is what I wrote them:Just saw the short follow up on the Kids MMA story on HLN. Only 1/2 of Xander mom's statement was read followed by an "expert" stating the sport will cause kids to go to school as bully's and "slam other kids heads into concrete" because someone is trying to make money off the sport. We sent the producer injury statistics, the fact that the USFL is a Volunteer Organization and numerous parents wrote of the positive effects on their kids character. I would think a light bulb would come on as to why so many parents are so passionate on depending the sport.I can understand not wanting to do a informercial for the sport but at least be transparent with the factual information provided by the advocates. Kids who diligently train and compete as well as the officials who ensure these competitions are conducted properly, fairly and safely deserve a little more respect. If Raising America would like to see an event and meet the kids the next show is Feb 23rd , I'm sure the promoters can arrange for them to purchase their own tickets. For many of you in the civilian world, you now have first hand knowledge regarding the objectiveness of the American media. Some people within the league are questioning our transparency with the media which does have merit. Personally, I think we should continue this practice. I have been involved with this sport for 12 years as a parent, coach and league president. From day one to now I strongly believe that we are doing great things for these kids. The day I feel there is something to hide is the day I will leave the sport. Eventually we will run into a fair and objective media organization and it will all be worth while! I wish I knew how to tweat! Jon Frank USFLwww.fightleague.org BTW- Here is a video for all the parents who have kids in Taekwondo! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLcAXcemUDc

jfrank site profile image  

2/6/13 10:06 PM by jfrank

Here are a synopsis of the injury reports for the past 4 USFL Kids tournaments:Also keep in mind that these are double elimination tournaments so one can estimate the actual number of matches are the amount of participants X 3.5 divided by 2. This comes out to a 3% injury rate and 20 reported injuries out of the last estimated 644 matches. Of the 20 reported injuries 4 were recommended for follow up medical attention. (A stomach, Toe, Neck and Shoulder injury). In 11 years we have yet to have a kid hospitalized. 1/12/13 66 Youth MMA/ Pankration Participants. (1 reported injury).Bleeding from foot treated with bandage. 9/23/12 130 Youth MMA/ Pankration Participants.(6 reported Injuries).3 Elbows all treated with Ice. 1 Thigh 1 Head / No symptoms of concussion. 4/29/12 112 Youth MMA/ Pankration Participants.(12 reported injuries).5 Elbows all treated with Ice. 1 nose treated with ice no concussion. 2 fingers 1 treated with ice and 1 taped. 2 Stomach with one recommended for medical follow up. 1 shoulder taped and recommended for medical follow up.1 toe taped and recommended for medical follow up.11/13/11 60 Youth Participants.(1 reported Injury).Pain in Neck tingling in hands recommended medical follow up.

well rounded poster site profile image  

2/6/13 10:03 PM by well rounded poster

Take those fuckers to the press council

jfrank site profile image  

2/6/13 9:57 PM by jfrank

HLN contacted us for information regarding the sport. We not only provided them with multiple kids, parents, videos but also detailed reports of injuries from past tournaments, kids who have been involved for 6 plus years, psychologists who monitor the sport and detailed rules and regulations. We are the most transparent organization out there. The producer never used any of this information. They tried to change some of my words during the read back (which I caught) and edited some of the things 8 year old Aiden said for the online interview. Since the show created a huge negative response from many of the parents involved they did a follow up show with a statement from another boy show in one of the videos. They read 1/2 of the moms statement and once again slammed the sport, parents and kids. Here is the online story which is much more detailed:http://www.hlntv.com/article/2013/02/02/young-mma-fighters

stonepony site profile image  

2/6/13 1:45 AM by stonepony

The negatives are vastly outweighed by the positives IMO.