JOLIET – Joliet resident Lexus Randle was a little nervous entering the ring for an April 17 hand-to-hand combat championship match in Moscow representing the United States against a Russian opponent.
But the nerves were natural.
“Every time I compete, I get a little nervous,” she said. “The overall atmosphere was great. A bunch of [fighters] from different countries are all in one place.”
Randle didn’t win. But she earned a silver medal in the competition, hosted by the Hand-to-Hand Fighting Sport International Federation, or HSIF.
She was one of three U.S. participants to medal. Joliet natives Adriana Rosas and Stanley Rousonelos II earned bronze. The team’s overall ranking hadn’t been released as of Friday.
They are part of a six-competitor team connected with SUDA, a Joliet-based mixed martial arts training facility at 117 Republic Ave. Homer Glen resident Eyad Eid, Michel Williams of Bolingbrook and Ryan McRaven of Mazon also participated.
SUDA owners and brothers Ron and James Hill were the team’s coaches as the competitors completed a training camp to adapt their mixed martial arts training to the art of Rukopashny Boi.
Rukopashny Boi is Russian hand-to-hand combat that takes its roots from Russian paratrooper military close-quarters combat training.
“It’s a different rule set,” Ron said, noting it was similar to mainstream mixed martial arts rules. Exceptions include no “ground and pound” and a different point system, based on rewarding clean strikes.
Several countries participated in the tournament, which wasn’t SUDA’s first in Moscow.
In 2011, SUDA was the United States’ representative in the HSIF international tournament. The team ranked third at the competition, something Ron said was a wake-up call to other countries.
“We surprisingly did exceptionally well,” Ron said, adding U.S. competitors had to compete with athletes from eastern European countries that train all day.
Paying for the trip is the most difficult part of going to a tournament halfway around the world, James said. But SUDA, and the U.S. hand-to-hand combat authority, is helped by some of the competitors having a fan bases willing to sponsor them.
“We do have to reach out to gym members and families to sponsor some of the competitors,” James said.
While the tournament took place April 17 and 18, the team went sightseeing for another couple days before returning April 20.Video of Lexus Randle's fight