You might have read in the last 24 hours about a visit by US President Barack Obama making an impromptu visit to a restaurant in Buffalo, NY in which he was accosted by a female fan who told him he had, “You’re a hottie with a smokin’ little body.”

What’s that got to do with MMA?  Absolutely nothing as far as I’m aware.

However as an interesting little aside, The Buffalo News reports that in the same restaurant President Obama spoke with champion kick-boxer A.J Verel who happened to be ordering his lunch a the time.

The paper reports that according to Verel, he, “talked at length with the president about martial arts, kick-boxing and the sport of ultimate fighting, which is illegal in New York State.”

Verel said that he was impressed when Obama spoke  about a couple of ultimate fighters who had competed at last weekend’s UFC 113 event.  It wasn’t clear who the fighters were but considering Kimbo Slice’s notoriety in the mainstream he may well have been one of them.

There’s no indication of whether Obama is actually a fan of the sport, but in my minds eye I’m now picturing the president kicking back with his wife Michelle this weekend to take in the Overeem Vs Rogers event on Showtime.

All joking aside, just the fact that he has some knowledge of MMA is an indication of how the sport is growing. Now if he would just put in a good word in New York so we can get the sport regulated there at last…


  1. I could see Obama having decent striking accuracy–good coordination from basketball and I could imagine him having taken karate and a tad of boxing. Plus, he’s given some slight evidence of being a good dancer, so let’s throw a little footwork and a sense of distance in there. Probably also good flexibility, and he might try the occasional armbar. He admires superheroes like Superman and he’s into Star Wars, and there is that jedi/martial arts overlap.

  2. Recent reports on President Obamas visit to Buffalo, NY last week and his conversation with the Pro Martial Arts Hall of Fame& Museum CEO and Chairman A.J. Verel have made news across the globe. This is historic for martial arts, kickboxing and mma since this is the first time that a sitting President openly discussed such a topic. Albeit Chuck Norris has been close to the Bush administration this is a first for a President in a public forum on martial arts as a whole.

    President Obama was in Buffalo, NY to speak with small business owners on jobs, the economy and health care. A.J. Verel (see bio below), spoke to the President on how the Hall of Fame & Museum in New York will create upwards of 150 new jobs and develop tourism that is projected to have a 40 Million Dollar economic impact to the region annually and would give the state a boost in promoting sports and wellness.

    It has also been reported that New York State currently has in their budget a line item for a new MMA Bill. This is incorrect. The MMA bill which has to be presented uniformly in the Assembly, Senate and Executive copies is not. In Fact it has been removed from one or more altogether. Reports are that Members of the House have called upon the Pro Martial Arts Hall of Fame and the Association of Martial Art Commissions headed by A.J. Verel for insight on how to proceed and what if any rules changes or regulations should be in place for amateurs and professionals when revising and rewriting the current combative sport laws in NYS.

    Verel also developed a new Collegiate Curriculum that is being considered by a few Universities’ in New York that have a specific tie to Martial Arts / Sciences.

    For more information you can reach A.J. Verel or staff members at [email protected]

    A.J. VEREL

    Hall of Famer A.J. Verel, a native of Western New York, a Former WKC World Light Heavyweight Champion and a Former WKA&WKO World Middleweight Champion in Kickboxing and is the only person to unify these three sanctioning body’s titles. A.J. compiled a record of 37 wins, 5 losses and 2 draws, 26 of those wins by way of knockout and a MMA record of 6 wins 1 loss and 1 draw before retiring. Verel also won two gold medals with the U.S. National Martial Arts and N.A.C.K. (North American Champions Karate) Demonstration Teams where he also served as the co-captain on the team.

    Verel has made a combined seven Ultimate Fighting Championship appearances (UFC I-VII) along with appearances at K-1, KOTC, Combat Zone and the IFC as Coach, Trainer and Alternate. Verel holds Black Belts in 5 different Martial Arts and is also credited along with Joe Lewis and Troy Dorsey for being the only three people to win both World Kickboxing and Sport Karate Titles the same year.

    A.J. Verel is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and has been credited in several films for his roles as; actor, stunt coordinator/supervisor, fight scene choreographer and producer, in such films as “TC 2000” with Tae Bo creator Billy Blanks, “Shadow Creature”, “Moving Target” with Heavyweight boxer Gerry Cooney, “Against The Ropes” with Meg Ryan and Omar Epps, “STAR TREK” ,“Little Chicago” with Ray Liotta and Oscar Winner Marisa Tomei and most recent “Unstoppable” with Oscar Winner Denzel Washington. A.J. Verel also spent five years on the FX Channel with the hit television show the Toughman Contest.

    Mr. Verel has degrees in Business and Psychology as well as a Masters in Education, when he is not on the road for filming, hosting seminars or working with numerous charities you can find him in Western New York over-seeing the day-to-day operations of the restructuring and relocation of the Pro Martial Arts Hall of Fame & Museum© now chartered by the NYS Dept. of Education.