Writers and Fighters: A Podcast

A.J. Ortega

Weekly interviews with a writer or a fighter. Hosted by A.J. Ortega. We talk books, fiction, poetry, reading, boxing, MMA, bjj, wrestling and more. The latest information on the podcast can be found at www.writersandfighters.com and on social media.

All Episodes

In episode 40 I got to talk to YouTuber and content creator Angel David Castro. He runs the YouTube channel El Pugilato, a Spanish-language platform for fight fans. We talk about his Puerto Rican Heritage, the Mexican vs Puerto Rican boxing rivalry, the current state of boxing, and much more. You can catch him on all social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as @elpugilato. His website is www.elpugilato.com

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Oct 12

1 hr 32 min

In episode 39 I got to interview ASF, Antonio San Francisco, El Dulce Niño Hispano, The Sweet Hispanic Boy. This is the first in a series of interviews for Latino Heritage Month. ASF wrestles out of Laredo, TX and we talk about how he got into wrestling, being a smaller guy in the locker room, his goals and upcoming shows, and much more. It's also National Lucha Libre Day, which is observed in Mexico, so the interview is a celebration for that as well. He's booked for Game Changer Wrestling's event in NYC on September 24th. You can follow ASF on Twitter @theasf_27, Instagram @theasf_27, and Facebook. You can pick up his merch at Pro Wrestling Tees, too: https://www.prowrestlingtees.com/asf 

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Sep 22

44 min 33 sec

In episode 38 I have a conversation with Christopher Maverick, a cultural theorist and good friend of mine. Mav is also a former independent professional wrestler. We talk about his early interest and ability in reading, his indy wrestling experiences, The Fast and the Furious franchise, teaching writing, and his creative endeavors. Mav is online as @ChrisMaverick on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. He hosts The VoxPopcast, which is on all your favorite podcast apps. Follow @VoxPopcast on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. And he's also the co-host of Oh Gosh, Oh Golly, Oh Wow, a podcast about the Marvel comic Excalibur.

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Sep 17

1 hr 40 min

In episode 37, I point out my favorite parts of AEW's All Out PPV and interview Nate Jolly, a bodybuilder and former pro wrestler. This is round 2 with Nate and we briefly talk about his wrestling background before moving on to his goals as a competitive bodybuilder. He tells us about his motivations for competing, inspiring others, and how his body feels in different stages of preparation. You can follow him on Instagram and Facebook

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Sep 6

1 hr 3 min

In episode 36 I recap a little UFC and the Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley boxing event before interviewing writer Danika Stegeman Lemay. She's a poet and the author of Pilot, a poetry collection inspired by the television show Lost. We talk about how she got into writing, erasure poems, her favorite Lost character, and how she used a computer program in the creative process. Danika reads the poems "Outlaws" and "MACHINE Walkbout" from her book. Her website is danikastegemanlemay.com. She's on Twitter, @danikaslemay, and Instagram, @danikaslemay, too. Pilot can be bought at Spork Press.

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Aug 30

57 min 1 sec

In episode 35, I recap CM Punk's return to wrestling and I interview Luis "Spartan" Ramirez, a pro wrestler and head coach of Five Star Wrestling Academy in Laredo, Texas. This is Round 2 with Luis, as he was on episode 1 of the show. This time we talk a little more about being a wrestling coach and the methods he uses to train his students.  ​Spartan's Instagram: instagram.com/luisrmz0 Spartan's Twitter: twitter.com/spartanrmz  Five Star Wrestling Academy website: fivestarwrestlingacademy.com Instagram: instagram.com/fivestarlaredo Facebook: facebook.com/earnyourstars Twitter: twitter.com/earnyourstars Youtube: youtube.com/user/5SWEarnYourStars Email:  earnyourstars@gmail.com

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Aug 22

46 min 52 sec

In episode 34, I interview Christian Schmidt, a ring announcer for boxing, MMA, and professional wrestling. We talk about how he got started in announcing, how he preps for a gig, and the differences between announcing for each combat sporting event. I wrap up our conversation by asking Christian what he thinks about the current boxing landscape and a few boxers, past and present. You can follow him on Facebook. 

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Aug 16

50 min 30 sec

In episode 33, I quickly recap UFC 265 and interview TJ Koracin, a professional wrestling cameraman. This is Round 2 with TJ, as he was on episode 12. We talk about how he got the Tom Puppet moniker, the current WWE editing style, wrestling deaths, and wrestling tv shows. The matches he records for LLE, Lucha Libre Entertainment, as well as other promotions, are all on his YouTube channel, youtube.com/tompuppet. You can get updates on Instagram @tompuppet and on Twitter @tom_puppet.

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Aug 9

48 min 10 sec

In episode 32, I interview V. Joshua Adams, a poet, critic, and translator. He calls in from Louisville, Kentucky and tells us about how he got into writing. Joshua reads us "Circles," a poem that appeared in Posit. Then, we talk about the cultural positioning of Playboy, his interest in vintage cars, and we finish up with some boxing memories. You can buy his chapbook, Cold Affections, from Plan B Press. He posts on Twitter @vjoshuaadams and has a website, vjoshuaadams.com.

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Aug 8

48 min 25 sec

In episode 31, I interview Lauryn Lueken, an armored combat athlete. She fights for the Dallas Mythics and trains at Warlord Combat Academy. Lauryn and I talk about how she first got into armored combat and steel fighting, what it’s like being a woman in a male-dominated sport, her recent injuries, and her goals to represent the USA at the international level, which were stifled by the pandemic. We finish up talking about her dogs and reading and writing interests. She is on Instagram @lovely_lauryn. On Facebook, you can follow the Dallas Mythics, as well as Warlord Combat Academy. 

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Jul 27

51 min 1 sec

In episode 30, I interview Jenny Valentish, an English writer calling in from Australia. She's the author of several articles in places like The Guardian and Rolling Stone, and the author of three books. Most recently, she wrote Everything Harder Than Everyone Else: Why Some of Us Push Our Bodies to Extremes. We talk about her start as a journalist and the ethics of immersion journalism. When we discuss the content of her book, we cover performance enhancing drugs, porn, bdsm, and deathmatch-style professional wrestling. We wrap up talking about her amateur muay thai bout. You can follow Jenny on Twitter @JennyValentish and Instagram @JennyValentish_public. She provides writing coach services at www.valentish.net

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Jul 22

53 min 27 sec

In episode 29 of Writers and Fighters, I recap UFC 264 and interview Jose Hernandez Diaz, a writer, poet, and author of The Fire Eater. We talk about how he got into writing and why he chose to focus on prose poetry for The Fire Eater. He reads a couple of poems for us and we finish up with some fight talk. Follow him on Twitter @JoseHernandezDz and Instagram @jose_hdz_dz. Pick up a copy of the book here: https://www.tamupress.com/book/9781680032086/the-fire-eater/

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Jul 12

43 min 52 sec

In episode 28 of Writers and Fighters, I interview Raphael "Trouble" Igbokwe, a professional boxer with a 16 - 2 record. He boxes at middleweight and tells us how he got started. He was born in and fights out of Houston and tells us the importance of H-town in his life. Trouble explains what it was like moving to Nigeria during his adolescence and how different the culture is from the USA. It was a great one, so follow him on Twitter at @troubleralpho and Instagram, also @troubleralpho. Enjoy!

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Jul 4

39 min 12 sec

In episode 27, I interview Nadia "La Conchita" Morales, an amateur boxer out of California. We talk about her nickname being based off a Mexican pastry, as well as the importance of Mexican heritage in her boxing training. Nadia tells us about her start in boxing, as a woman in a male-centric sport. We talk about how the pandemic derailed her pro boxing debut and her hopes for the future. She is on instagram @nadiaamorales_ and Twitter @Team_Conchis

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Jun 28

25 min 26 sec

In episode 26 and I recap Claressa Shields’ MMA debut along with the Anderson Silva vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. boxing match. Then I interview Colby Applegate, a writer and editor. He tells us about his education and interest in writing, working for WWE’s NXT brand in production and marketing, his overall interest in pop culture, collaborating with Thunder Rosa, and his latest projects. Just a few months ago he released Ring Post Journal #1: A 2020 Women’s Wrestling Year in Review. Colby is on Twitter @ColbyAppleG8, as is his media company @Meteora4Media.

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Jun 20

38 min 7 sec

In episode 25, I quickly recap Brandon Moreno’s win at UFC 263 and interview Rocio Franco, a poet from Chicago. We talk about a few of her poems in Acentos Review and Exposition Review. Rocio also tells us about surviving cancer, training in Brazilian jiu jitsu, and her upcoming readings. You can follow her and her writing on Instagram: @chio_la_chingona Reading on June 27: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/counterpult-a-roots-wounds-words-storyteller-showcase-june-2021-tickets-156268827269 Poems in Acentos Review: https://www.acentosreview.com/December2020/rocio-franco.html Poem in Exposition Review: http://expositionreview.com/issues/vol-vi-hunger/a-6-month-follow-up-visit-opens-my-mouth-in-anguish/ Brandon Moreno first Mexican UFC Champion post-fight interview from UFC 263: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tM6ox5UGFC4

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Jun 14

42 min 12 sec

In episode 24 I interview Mickey Guida, an armored combat athlete, while he was on the road training and competing. We talk about how he got started, how the sport is organized, and the connection to other martial arts. We even talk about traveling in his camper bus and motorcycle, and wrap it up with a dialogue about psychedelic medicine. Mickey is on Instagram @mick.the.merc. You can also follow Nashville Armored Combat @nashville.armored.combat and follow them on Facebook. If you want to get involved in the sport, follow Armored Combat Sports on Facebook and they’ll help you link up with a local chapter.

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Jun 7

1 hr 2 min

In episode 23 of Writers and Fighters, I interview former pro boxer and current coach, David Mario Ramos. He owns and operates State Street Boxing Gym in Salt Lake City, Utah. We talk about his early training, transitioning into competition, why he started his gym, and the importance of boxing for inner city youth. You can follow the gym on Facebook and on their website. 

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May 30

29 min 13 sec

In episode 22 of Writers and Fighters, I interview Scarlett Harris, a writer and culture critic from Australia. Her articles have appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times, Playboy, VICE and several others. Her book, A Diva Was a Female Version of a Wrestler: An Abbreviated Herstory of World Wrestling Entertainment, was released In March 2021. We discuss her initial interest in wrestling, watching wrestling critically, and her future project, compiling and editing a book of essays about the work of television producer Jenji Kohan. Learn more about her and her work at her website scarlettwoman.com.au or on Twitter @ScarlettEharris.

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May 23

33 min 30 sec

In episode 21 of Writers and Fighters, I interview Lemus Dos, an independent pro wrestler. We talk about how he started training in lucha libre and his family’s involvment. Lemus II tells some stories and memories from his many years in the business. He explains how he became known as “The Menace from East L.A.” and his love for Mexican and Chicano culture. We wrap up with his Canadian whiskey recommendations. You can find him on Instagram @lemus_dos and Twitter @LemusDos.

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May 17

1 hr 8 min

In episode 20 of Writers and Fighters, I recap the Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders boxing match and interview Carla Hoch, a writer with a variety of fight experience. She is the author of Fight Write: How to Write Believable Fight Scenes. We talk about the different martial arts she has trained in, some of the issues writers face when writing fight scenes, and a number of other things. You can follow her on Instagram at @carla.c.hoch or #fightwrite. Read the blog at www.fightwrite.net. Also, you can use the following discount code for Writers Digest University: FIGHT10 (Note for listeners: In this episode we discuss inappropriate sexual contact in gyms and using self-defense for violent and sexual attacks.) Canelo’s entrance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOLMheVxzZ8

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May 10

1 hr 29 min

In episode 19, I interview Alicia Doyle, a journalist and former boxer. Her nonfiction novel is called Fighting Chance. We talk about her start as a reporter, which led her to an assignment at a boxing. She tells us about the transition into training and competition, where she won two Golden Gloves championships and the California Female Fight of the Year in her pro debut in the year 2000. Her website is www.aliciadoyle.com. She is on Instagram @disasterdivaboxer and Twitter @aliciakdoyle.

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May 2

44 min 12 sec

In episode 18 of Writers and Fighters, I recap UFC 261 and interview Matt Mendez, a writer from El Paso, Texas, now living in Tucson, Arizona. Matt is the author of Twitching Heart, a short story collection, and Barely Missing Everything, a young adult novel. We talk about El Paso, his writing process and tech he uses to compose, his future projects, and his love of boxing. I refer to two of his stories, "Tacos Aztecas" and "El Terrible." You can keep up with him on his website, mattmendez.com. 

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Apr 26

1 hr 27 min

In episode 17 I recap the circus that was Triller Fight Club and interview Reyes Ramirez, a writer from Houston, Texas. He writes short fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. We cover a number of things like his writing process, his poems about Eddie Guerrero and Selena, and his short story collection, which is coming out soon, from University of Arizona Press.  Visit his website, www.reyesvramirez.com. He’s on Instagram: @nisabes. And Twitter: @y_si_rey_quiere Here’s the Selena Poem we talked about: https://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/series/voices-and-verses/2019/04/08/327142/national-poetry-month-selenas-last-concert-in-houston-by-reyes-ramirez/ Here’s a reading of the Eddie Guerrero poem we talked about (starts at 17:50): https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=701205383762029&ref=watch_permalink

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Apr 19

54 min 49 sec

In episode 16 of Writers and Fighters: A Podcast I do a quick recap of night one of WWE’s Wrestlemania 37 and interview a screenwriter, Jennifer Mulligan. She is a writer, director, and producer of multiple projects. She is the award-winning director of death isn’t the same anymore. Jennifer has some great insight into making movies, collaboration, writing, the Canadian film scene, and we even talk a little about fight stuff. Her website, www.jennifermulligan.com, has links to her films. Jennifer is on Twitter, @mizmulligan, and Instagram, @mizmulligan, as well.

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Apr 12

55 min 43 sec

In episode 15 I interview Dyl Dempsey, an independent pro wrestler working out of Laredo, TX. We cover his start in wrestling, working through the loss of his father, his recent ACL injury, and how he is still contributing to the wrestling world as he works through rehabbing his knee. Five Star Wrestling is having a show in Laredo on April 24th to fundraise for Dyl’s medical expenses. You can follow him on social media: Facebook: Dyl Dempsey Instagram: dempsey956 Twitter: DempseyRoR913

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Apr 5

1 hr 19 min

In episode 14 I interview professional MMA fighter Dalton "Hercules" Rosta. He’s currently fighting for Bellator in the middleweight division and he is undefeated. He is booked on the prelims for Bellator 256, Ryan Bader vs Lyoto Machida, on April 9th. You can stream it through Showtime. In our conversation we talk about how he ended up in Bellator, extending his contract versus free agency, calling out Dillon Danis, his plan to continue his winning streak, and his preference for taking in information through audiovisual media. Follow him on Instagram @dalton_rosta, Facebook, and Twitter. Check out his Bellator profile and links to his first four fights here: http://www.bellator.com/fighters/j8tt5t/dalton-rosta

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Mar 29

37 min 54 sec

In episode 13 of Writers and Fighters I start with a quick shoutout to my late brother on his birthday. Then I play “Polka Dot Woman” by LC Flowers and interview him, too. LC Flowers is a musician from the borderlands of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. He has a new album, At Home, coming out soon. We talk about his musical influences, songwriting process, and more. Follow him online. Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lcflowersmusic/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lcflowersmusic/ Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2FaQlsPlm6hvw050ClkyAF New release dates: April 2nd - Quicksand/Strangers single release April 26th - At Home LP digital release June 1st – At Home vinyl ships At HomeColor Vinyl Purchase Info: $25 including shipping (lower 48 states only, include address with payment) Venmo - @lcflowersmusic PayPal - lcflowersmusic@gmail.com

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Mar 21

41 min 4 sec

In episode 12 of Writers and Fighters, I pay respect to the late Marvin Hagler and talk about Estrada vs Chocolatito II. The interview portion features TJ Koracin, aka Tom Puppet, a videographer for professional wrestling out of El Paso, Texas. We talk about his start as a cameraman, memorable gigs, and the covid hiatus. Subscribe to his YouTube page at www.youtube.com/tompuppet and his Instagram page at www.instagram.com/tompuppet

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Mar 14

35 min 4 sec

In episode 11 I recap the UFC 259 event and interview award-winning writer and bookstore owner Jennifer Murvin. Jennifer and I discuss why she started writing, a little about her process, and how covid has affected that. We talk about “Lifeguard,” a graphic piece she wrote and published in Anomaly, an arts and literature journal, and the importance of home in her writing. She tells us about opening and operating Pagination Bookshop in Springfield, Missouri. We finished up with her telling us a little about televised boxing being present in her childhood. You can read more of her work through her website  www.jennifermurvin.com And make sure to visit the bookstore: www.paginationbookshop.com Twitter: https://twitter.com/PaginationBooks Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paginationbookshop/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/paginationbookshop/ "Lifeguard" by Jennifer Murvin: http://anmly.org/ap31/jennifer-murvin/

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Mar 7

1 hr 11 min

In episode 10 I interview Dylan Dunbar, a former independent pro wrestler who created and now runs Heavy Metal Wrestling in San Antonio, TX. We talk about his time watching wrestling with his family, his eventual training, the transition into promoting, and the effects of COVID-19 on the independent wrestling scene, among other things. Visit www.heavymetalwrestling.com for the latest news. Facebook: HeavyMetalWrestlingSA Instagram: HeavyMetalWrestlingSA Twitter: HeavyMetalPro

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Feb 28

1 hr 35 min

In episode 9 of Writers and Fighters, I recap a few fight cards: UFC Fight Night, a battle between Mexican warriors Berchelt and Valdez on ESPN, and Adrien Broner's return on Showtime. Then I interview Jared Walls, a stand-up comic living in Austin, TX. We talk about writing, his time working as a prison guard, dealing with hecklers, and a little this and that. He is on instagram @def_foxworthy and on TikTok @jaredwallsy. 

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Feb 22

1 hr 3 min

In episode 8 of Writers and Fighters, I interview Brazilian jiu jitsu competitor and assistant coach Kenzie Landry. She is enthusiastic about working with children at the Renzo Gracie Riverstone school in the Houston area. She’s an IBJJF gold medalist and has competed for Submission Hunter Pro, Grappling Industries, and others. We talk about her start in the bjj game, competition, teaching, and reading selections. You can follow her on instagram: @thekenzieblaire and her sponsors @jiujitsustateofmind

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Feb 15

45 min 10 sec

In Episode 7 of Writers and Fighters I interview Symmatree, a Texas-based rapper and songwriter. We cover his initial interests in music and reading, some of our observations about the evolution of rap music, a little about his writing style, and we even finish up talking about pro wrestling a little. Symmatree has merch and music at symmatree.bandcamp.com. The music is also on Spotify and Apple Music. He’s on Facebook if you search Symmatree. And if Instagram is your thing, follow @symmatreedyr

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Feb 8

1 hr 22 min

In episode 6 of Writers and Fighters I interview Anja Stridsman, a Swedish Australian boxer and artist. We talk about her start in boxing, overcoming injury, and eventually winning a gold medal, boxing for Australia, in the women's 60kg division of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. She's also an artist with lots of great content online. You can catch her skateboarding on Instagram @pebbleswarhammer or you can check out her website, www.pebbleswarhammer.com.

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Jan 31

1 hr 16 min

In episode 5 of Writers and Fighters I interview John Fry, a poet. He is the author of With the Dogstar as my Witness. We discuss his upbringing, language, reading, and how that influenced his writing. John shares a story about how he acquired the cover art for his poetry collection. John reads two of his poems and ends with a poem in translation by a poet he admires.

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Jan 24

1 hr 41 min

In episode 4 of Writers and Fighters I recap the UFC on ABC event and interview Athena Martinez, an amateur MMA fighter training with Australian Top Team in Sydney. We talk about her start in the fight game and her mindset as a fighter. She shares a story about an injury sustained during a cryotherapy session which derailed a scheduled bout. We end with a chat about her reading and writing habits and how that translates into the fighter mentality.  You can find Athena on Instagram: @athena_martinezz

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Jan 17

57 min 47 sec

In episode 3 of Writers and Fighters I interview Nathan Jolly, a former independent pro wrestler and current NPC bodybuilder. We talk about where he gets his work ethic, how he started in pro wrestling, why he transitioned into bodybuilding, and his connection between fitness and mental wellness. He mentions his NPC Classic Physique win in 2020 and his upcoming goals for 2021. You can find Nate on Instagram: @ginger_gainz76

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Jan 11

46 min 4 sec

In episode two of *Writers and Fighters* I interview award-winning author Rene S. Perez II. His first book is a short story collection, *Along These Highways*, and his second is a novel, *Seeing off the Johns*. We talk about Corpus Christi, playing music, writing, and what it’s like living in London. Then we talk a little about the fight game and Rene shares his experience watching the Andy Ruiz Jr vs Anthony Joshua rematch at a pub in England. You can find Rene online at www.renesperezii.com https://www.facebook.com/Rene-S-Perez-II-135327809908140 https://www.instagram.com/renesperezii/

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Jan 8

1 hr 9 min

(Sorry for the low audio on this one.) In the first episode of Writers and Fighters I recap the Ryan Garcia vs Luke Campbell event from the weekend and interview Luis Ramirez of Five Star Wrestling in Laredo, TX. We talk about his origins in bodybuilding and moving into professional wrestling. We also discuss his best wrestling memory and the transition to coaching and training, where he incorporates his experience as a high school English teacher.  Spartan's Instagram: instagram.com/luisrmz0 Spartan's Twitter: twitter.com/spartanrmz  Five Star Wrestling Academy website: fivestarwrestlingacademy.com Instagram: instagram.com/fivestarlaredo Facebook: facebook.com/earnyourstars Twitter: twitter.com/earnyourstars Youtube: youtube.com/user/5SWEarnYourStars Email:  earnyourstars@gmail.com 

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Jan 4

1 hr 12 min