CONCORD, N.C., (Dec. 11, 2002) - Dale Earnhardt, Jr., one of NASCAR's brightest stars, is using his interest in the sport of Jiu Jitsu to create the premier Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Grappling Classic. Organizers say this tournament has the potential to be the largest Jiu Jitsu tournament in the world.
"I'm happy to be a part of something that will surely impact the sport of Jiu Jitsu," Earnhardt, Jr. said. "What started out as conversation between me and a couple of buddies has turned into a huge competition that will bring a ton of exposure to this exciting, unique sport."
The tournament is the brainchild of Joe Hurst, 2001 Jiu Jitsu World Champion, and Garrett Barger, North Carolina state trooper and Jiu Jitsu student. It will include Ultimate Fighting champions from around the world in a competition open to the public, to be held at the brand new Cabarrus Arena in Concord, N.C. on January 25, 2003. Competitin begins at 10:00 am and will continue throughout the day. Tickets for the this awesome event are available through Ticketmaster and will go on sale starting December 12. Adult admission is $20.00 with tickets for children 3-12 selling for $10.00. Children two and under will be admitted free.
Attending the inaugural Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Grappling Classic will be top names such as current Heavyweight Champion of the World, Ricco Rodriquez and nationally ranked Tito Ortez. Also on hand will be three-time World Champion Royce Gracie, whose father created the Brazilian form of Jiu Jitsu that is used in international competitions today. Gracie will also hold a seminar, open to the public, on Friday night prior to the Classic.
The Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Grappling Classic will consist of competition in both amateur and professional divisions, including women and children as well as Gi and No Gi divisions for men. And through a process of elimination, the fighters will be dismissed one by one as they lose fights.
The professional fights and the "super-fight" will begin around eight p.m., with a grand prize of $2,000 going to the winner, as well as a trophy and gift packs from sponsors. Earnhardt Jr. will be the host of the event and other NASCAR Winston Cup Series notables and local celebrities will be on hand to observe the competition.
"I've become such a huge fan of this sport that I can't wait to see how it all goes down," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Joe and Garrett have taught me a lot about what takes place at this type of tournament. It'll be cool to see the different fights that go on throughout the day and who makes it to the end. That will be the best part when the top people compete for the title. That's when the competition will be intense.
"I'm glad to be a part of the program," Earnhardt Jr. continued. "I thought these guys needed someone to help them along with a little notoriety. The point is to get the word out about Jiu Jitsu. It's about people who train and compete in intense settings like we do on the racetrack everyday. I hope to convert another group of fans by doing the Grappling Classic. We also hope to do more of these every year."
On top of the noteworthy athletes who will be on hand at the arena, there will be many of the Dale Earnhardt, Inc. team Chevrolets, including the No. 8 Budweiser Chevy, which Earnhardt Jr. drives, on display. Many Cabarrus County companies will be associated with this event to welcome the guests from all over the country, as well as many from other countries. As well, the pimary sponsor for this event will be named in a press conference to be held at a later date.
For more information about the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Inaugural Grappling Classic, log on to www.dalejrgrapplingclassic.com.