Publisher’s Statement, from Chain-Fighting Prospectus #1
by Roger Ehrman, Publisher*
I’m sure we all have a few cherished memories from the glorious days of chain-fighting in our youth. For me, it’s something of a toss-up between two extremes. On one hand, there’s the big-league memory of the day in 1963 when prohibitive underdog Joe Oberg stared into the cameras and guaranteed a victory over Tiny Wallace, and then broke out all of the champ’s teeth on the second swing of his anchor-chain. Stirring, indeed, but equally golden in my mind are all of the Sunday afternoons when I went with my father out behind the Amoco on the outskirts of Mason City to watch the amateur chain-fights; certainly not as glamorous, but it taught this young man a great many lessons on how a man faces pain. And in that light, I think I can be forgiven for waxing a bit sentimental.
There are those who say that chain-fighting has fallen from those hallowed days, that the cable TV deal and the Snap-On Tools sponsorship have robbed the sport of something essential. These purists are certainly entitled to their opinions, but I feel that they are missing the point. Chain-fighting is about two men, eight feet of linked metal, and the raw will to compete; nothing more, nothing less, and no TV deal will change that.
Chain-fighting is as vital and energetic today as it ever has been. Indeed, I would argue that chain-fighting is poised to enter a new, golden age as we begin the Twenty-First Century. Witness the revolution sweeping the sport in the wake of Magnus Thorsson’s groundbreaking two-handed swing technique. Or the team at Stanford investigating the introduction of ringside epidurals. Or the wave of exciting new chain materials– including ceramics– coming out of Japan, truly stretching the boundaries of what chain-fighting is and can be. I am firmly convinced that, for those of us in the happy fraternity of link-swingers, the road ahead has never been brighter.
And that brings us to this magazine. In recent years, I have sought to further my understanding of the Sport of Emperors. In doing so, it has come to my attention that there exists a whole realm of previously-ignored metrics which have a profound influence on the outcome of a given chain-fight. While all along we have been obsessed with arm length and chain weight, it turns out that a close statistical analysis of many other factors yields a far more accurate prediction of the outcome.
For instance, the fighting stance at the beginning of the match has far more bearing on the fight than does the traditional metric of link-spacing; were you aware that a swinger who begins the bout in a contrapasto will win 72% of the time if his opponent doesn’t immediately counter with the Edmonton Maneuver? To take another example, how could we possibly have been blind for all these years about the enormous importance of the alcoholic proof of the whiskey served in the fighter’s corner? In retrospect, the outcome of the 1984 World Championship in Albany makes much more sense when looked at through this prism.
These are but two of the new yardsticks by which we hope to bring to bear. Indeed, while some enterprising managers on the West Coast have already begun to modify our techniques into their training regimens (and I hear rumors of a joint venture between Gatorade and Maker’s Mark for a new chain-fighting performance drink), it becomes more and more clear that we have only scratched the surface of the hidden richness of chain-fighting.
Chain-Fighting Prospectus will be the instrument, then, by which we shall share our discoveries with the world. In this inaugural issue, for example, we have an inquiry by Sean Terrell into the value of rotation-speed in a Brazillian whirling-chain defense; a piece I wrote addressing the use of hooks as a final link; and a (simply brilliant) examination by mathematician Neal Horowitz into the game theory of a Tournament Battle Royale. I assure you that, after absorbing this material, you will see your next chain-fight in a completely different light.
We do this purely for the love of chain-fighting. There will be no advertisements, and we will accept no payment from the gambling industry (although, truth be told, there is no question that the Las Vegas chain-fighting book will benefit from our research more than anyone else. Thus it has always been). Consider these pages to be printed with the sweat of our passions; a sweat, if I may be permitted a small conceit, not terribly different from that which soaks the sawdust of the ring after an especially energetic bout.
Gentlemen, you may begin swinging!
*OK, actually by Keith Pille. You know how it goes.