A few days back, I got word that Russia’s number one wrestler, Ivan Markov, set out to openly challenge me on Finnish soil.  I was in the midst of preparations for my southern rock band Crossfyre’s tour of Poland and Germany, which we left for today, when I heard the news.

A lot of folks who don’t live in Finland probably aren’t aware of the political climate between Finland and Russia in the wake of the EU embargos set forth, following the situation with the Ukraine, or the slant that the media in this country constantly feeds to its citizens about the tensions between our countries.  Needless to say, there is a constant picture of an imminent threat to Finland’s independence lingering in the air.  Big Russia vs. little Finland.

Ivan "Locomotive" Markov has initiated the first step in the next Cold War!

Ivan “Locomotive” Markov has initiated the first step in the next Cold War!

Anyone who knows anything about Nordic and Baltic world history knows that Finland used to be under Russian rule by the Czar.  We are, after all, neighboring lands and Russia’s reach used to far exceed what is today, although they are still the biggest, single country in the world.

Things in Russia have been arguably restless over the past year, as their war with the Ukraine has caused a lot of unrest with neighboring countries and even with the rest of the world.  It’s like Reagan vs. Gorbachov all over again, with a new Cold War on the horizon.  Only this time, it’s Vladimir Putin against the rest of the world.

In the midst of these troubled times comes one who calls himself the “Locomotive”, Ivan Markov, who is looking to assert himself in the name of his country and leader, in an effort to claim dominance in the name of Mother Russia.  Not only does Markov call me out personally, he goes on to spite and belittle the country in which I pioneered the sport of professional wrestling.  The same country my parents were born in.  This, simply, will not do.

I’ll be honest: Markov reminds me a lot of another Ivan, that being Ivan Drago from the acclaimed ‘80s movie, Rocky IV.  If you look at the man, he is an impressive physical specimen.  I have no idea what he’s been having for breakfast – if you get my drift – but it sure ain’t what this ol’ boy has been having.  I’ve spent 27 years of my life in the gym as a natural athlete, whether healthy or busted up, and I know the difference between organic and non-organic.  Markov and Drago… these Ivan’s have a lot in common.

So here I find myself on the road, driving down through the Baltics on my way to Poland for a set of shows with Crossfyre, and I know that I’ll have to be in the shape of my life to face Ivan Markov, because believe you me, I am accepting his challenge for a fight on July 23 in Helsinki!  I know I don’t have much time, and the touring schedule and road life doesn’t allow for such luxuries as well-equipped gyms and optimal training hours to give me a platform for preparation.

Training like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky IV, only this time I am in Poland!

Training like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky IV, only this time I am in Poland!

Therefore, I left home this morning ready to train on the road, Rocky-style.  I took the few training aides that would fit in our jam-packed Crossmobile tour van: a kettlebell, a set of power bands and two 5kg plates with in-built handles.  That’s it.  Everything else is bodyweight conditioning.  Oh, and I even grabbed a few Muscle&Fitness magazines to help keep my head in the game.

StarBuck training 1

Chin-ups in Germany!

Ivan Markov might be younger than me.  He might be bigger than me.  He might be crazier than me.  But there’s one thing he has to know, going into this Finland vs. Russia showdown in Helsinki on July 23.

Markov needs to know what Belgium’s acclaimed Bernard Vandamme – whom I beat for the prestigious Eurostars European championship twice – said about me: “StarBuck was not the biggest guy around, he wasn’t the most agile, and he wasn’t a high-flier, but he had a bit of everything, and he knew how to combine those qualities into one impressive formula for success.”

Ivan Markov should be taking notes.  He should be brushing up on his pro wrestling history.  He should under no circumstances sell short the caliber of wrestler that he is up against, come July 23.  All Ivan Markov needs to do is read one single page on Wikipedia, or look at my contributions and track record in one of the most contested markets for wrestling on the planet, that being Japan.  Or then, look at the list of notable names in the wrestling industry that have fallen to “The Rebel” StarBuck simply over the past decade, and then, he will have a more clear understanding of the man that he has chosen to call out.

StarBuck training 2

I found an old barn, made do with whatever was hanging around, and got busy!

When Finland’s Snacky fast food restaurant chain owner Jukka Nieminen heard that Markov had issued a challenge to fight me, he stepped forth, offering a platform for this mega-match to take place.  Last year, FCF Wrestling orchestrated an event in Helsinki’s Pukinmäki suburb, along with Snacky and the nation’s leading tabloid magazine, 7 Päivää.  That event was called Snacky Slam and this year, Nieminen expressed that he wanted to do it again.

Therefore, on Thursday, July 23 at Snacky in Pukinmäki, Helsinki – outdoors under the sun and free for all to see – I will battle Russia’s top wrestler, Ivan Markov, with both nations’ national pride at stake.

This is going to be one for the ages.  The next Cold War!

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