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WHEN Blackbelt TV first reached our screens we were told a lot of the programming would focus on African content and they are living up to their promise.
Coming to our screens is Blackbelt TV’s Best of: Africa, a screening of the best fights and fight leagues in Africa.
“MMA (mixed martial arts) as a sport is seeing major growth in Africa, but many talented fighters still lack the ability to test their abilities in the cage,” said Gary Barrett, the co-founder of Cape Town’s Cape Fight League (CFL) which will be featured on the show.
“CFL gives these fighters the much-needed experience and by partnering with Blackbelt TV we are helping to grow the sport.”
The chief executive of Blackbelt TV, Larry Kasanoff, agreed with Barrett, and said there has always been a plan to put Africa on the map.
“MMA is the fastest-growing sport in the world yet it is not shown much on TV. So it is great that DStv agreed to let us bring the African fight scene to the people,” he said.
As a film producer, Kasanoff is always looking for talent and he hopes as a result of Blackbelt TV’s Best of: Africa, new talented fighters will come out of the continent and can break into film or mixed martial arts at an international level.
“I never rule out the possibility of finding the next talented fighter who we can cast in our next martial arts movie. That’s how we found Tony Jaa of Ong Bak fame. The thing is, I believe there is so much talent out there and not many people going out there to showcase it. That’s what we are happy about Blackbelt TV. We have so many e-mails from Africa, where people are loving what we show, and they ask us how to to progress from where they are. So imagine showing Blackbelt TV’s Best of: Africa all over the world – surely some of these fighters will be able to crack it in bigger fight scenes like EFC (Extreme Fighting Championship),” said Kasanoff.
To make Blackbelt TV’s Best of: Africa more interesting, Kasanoff and his team elected martial arts expert and Hollywood actor Mark Dacascos to host the show.
“We are happy that he agreed to work on Blackbelt TV’s Best of: Africa. His job is to go through a lot of the footage and select, with his trained eye, the best fight scenes and then walk us through why he thinks they are good,” explained Kasanoff.
Dacascos is happy to be part of the team and he spoke about why he joined the show.
“My parents were world-class martial arts instructors so I learnt martial arts at an early age and it’s always been a part of my life. The idea of helping to expose African MMA to a worldwide audience was appealing to me. When Blackbelt TV asked me to host the show, I jumped at the chance,” he said.
“I’ve worked in Africa many times over the years. Kickboxer 5 was made in South Africa back in the 1990s. I know Africa is a hotbed of young up-and-coming MMA fighters trying to make it to the EFC. What we’re trying to focus on are the guys on their way up fighting in the top pro-am ranks. There’s some great MMA fighting going on in some of the smaller fight leagues around South Africa.”
• Blackbelt TV’s Best of: Africa, from Monday at 7.30pm on Blackbelt TV (DStv channel 129).