New York City-based organization with professional and amateur events to be led by Rolles Gracie, Rich Byrne and Kenny Florian.
July 12, 2017 – New York City, NY – Gotham gets to grips with grappling as today marks the official launch of New York City’s premier competitive Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) grappling promotion, KASAI Elite Grappling Championships (“KASAI”).
KASAI will produce professional competitive tournaments and spirited amateur events in venues throughout the city, with its inaugural card scheduled for the fall of 2017. The promotion is led by an executive team including:
Rolles Gracie, internationally renowned grappler, fourth-degree BJJ black belt and member of the sport’s first family of fighting – the Gracies.
Richard Byrne, president of Benefit Street Partners, former CEO of Deutsche Bank Securities and a BJJ black belt.
Ken Gelman, founder of G-Funk Sports & Entertainment with 20-plus years in sports, marketing and media across fight sports organizations including Strikeforce, WWE, Shooto Brazil, Glory Sports International, Bellator MMA and more.
Kenny Florian, three-time MMA world title challenger, host of UFC Tonight on Fox Sports 1, and owner of Florian Martial Arts Center (Brookline, MA) and Meraki BJJ (Santa Monica CA).
Erik Owings, third-degree BJJ black belt, co-creator of the RUSHFIT training program and owner of New York City-based dojo Mushin Mixed Martial Arts.
“KASAI celebrates the skill and intensity that elite BJJ athletes bring to active competition today,” said Gracie, KASAI President. “We look forward to hosting events for the grappling community that profile pedigreed global talent, while unearthing next-generation prospects.”
KASAI, which adopts its name from the Japanese term for ‘a fire that rages uncontrollably,’ will host professional and amateur live events. Professional bouts will be contested at black-belt level under no-gi conditions. Events will adopt an exciting eight-man tournament structure with two round-robin brackets and fast action. The live tournaments will be broadcast via pay-per-view. Amateur tournaments will take place in no-gi attire, be open to male and female competitors, while spanning different age groups, weight classes and skill levels; white belt through black belt.
“We’re building this promotion with experienced minds from the worlds of martial arts, media production and event operations,” said Byrne, KASAI CEO. “There are exceptional competitors and a passionate martial arts audience out there, particularly on the East Coast.”
KASAI is targeting its first amateur and professional events for later this year, with KASAI’s first amateur tournament scheduled October 21. The promotion will also provide a steady pipeline of content and audience engagement initiatives year-round.
“KASAI is our effort to expand BJJ’s profile in both the spheres of sport and popular culture,” noted Florian. “While New York is unquestionably a hotbed for grappling talent in its own right, our aim is to present a product that reflects BJJ’s ability to transcend language and culture by entertaining a global audience.”
KASAI will provide further updates regarding event scheduling and talent acquisitions in the coming weeks.