TERRE HAUTE — If Jack McVicker were to stroll into a Terre Haute bar, few patrons would feel intimidated by his presence.
But don’t let his boyish smile or his 5-foot-11, 163-pound physique fool you.
When motivated, he’s a one-man wrecking crew.
McVicker, 36, recently won the men’s 36-40 lightweight black-belt title with a 3-0 record in the Master Senior World Championships of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In the championship match July 27, the Terre Haute resident and Indiana State University graduate outpointed his Brazilian opponent 2-0. McVicker used a double-leg takedown to post the two points midway through the five-minute clash.
“He was pretty good,” McVicker said. “The second-round guy was supposed to be pretty good, but I didn’t have that much trouble with him.”
McVicker sounds relieved that he finally won this championship as a black belt. “This is the title I’ve been chasing for a while,” he acknowledged.
A student of jiu-jitsu for 15 years (13 as a competitor), McVicker previously tried for this championship as a black belt three times in a lower age division. He lost in the first round once and finished 1-1 twice.
Now that he’s achieved his latest goal, don’t think he’s ready to turn into the Pillsbury Doughboy.
Still in top shape, McVicker will travel today to Carson, Calif., to compete in the World Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championships on Sunday. He won his division at this tournament in 2007.
McVicker said the rules will be similar to regular jiu-jitsu, but no-gi is faster paced because combatants are not allowed to grab jackets or clothing.
The confident McVicker admits that he’s considered entering the increasingly popular mixed martial arts (MMA) events that are popping up on almost every television channel.
“The ground fighting of MMA is jiu-jitsu,” he mentioned. “It’s an essential aspect of MMA.”
But the punching and kicking of MMA are not part of jiu-jitsu and McVicker doesn’t want to relocate to a big city to learn those elements at an MMA camp.
So we’re not likely to see him brawling in a cage near us anytime soon.
When he’s not sparring or competing in jiu-jitsu, McVicker — a certified senior instructor in Jeet Kune Do and Filipino martial arts — trains more than 100 students between his two academies in Terre Haute and Champaign, Ill. He teaches in Terre Haute three days a week, while assistant Justin Leigh teaches here once a week.
Despite his expertise in martial arts, McVicker isn’t above learning new tricks whenever he can. That’s why he is grateful for the help provided by former Rose-Hulman assistant wrestling coach Greg Archer, who’s been advising him on takedown techniques.
“He’s a wealth of knowledge,” McVicker said.
On a personal note, I’ve written about McVicker’s accomplishments several times in column or story form over the years. Although I’ve still never seen him compete, I did ask him and Leigh to put on a demonstration last weekend so I’d have a better understanding of jiu-jitsu.
On the mat inside his Terre Haute academy on South Seventh Street, McVicker showed how to apply a Kimura arm lock — described by Leigh as “very painful” — and a guillotine from the guard (bottom position) with his legs wrapped around Leigh’s waist.
“Our job is to submit the opponent or to get the top position to be able to strike,” McVicker explained.
Later in the demonstration, McVicker moved smoothly and quickly in applying a rear-naked choke hold on Leigh.
Leigh said he enjoys working out with McVicker, who knows when to lighten up and knows when to make the session challenging for his sparring partners.
“He makes it easy,” Leigh noted. “Whenever he’s ready to crank it up a notch, it’s usually a short fight. I must say we’re lucky to have someone of Jack’s caliber in Terre Haute.”
McVicker also showed yours truly how to apply certain holds on him, then he applied a few on me.
Needless to say, I tapped quickly.
• • •
• Belated coaching note — Last month, former Terre Haute resident Ben Reel was named head baseball coach at Indiana University Southeast.
He succeeded Josh Schultz, who resigned in June to become an assistant baseball coach at IPFW in Fort Wayne.
With the hiring, the 24-year-old Reel became one of the youngest college head baseball coaches in the nation.
As a youngster, Reel attended Hoosier Prairie Elementary School in Terre Haute until his family moved to West Virginia in 1994.
His proud parents, Brian and Ann Reel, graduated from Terre Haute South High School in the 1970s.
David Hughes can be reached by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by e-mail at email@example.com; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.
Jiu-jitsu black belt recently won world championship
TERRE HAUTE — If Jack McVicker were to stroll into a Terre Haute bar, few patrons would feel intimidated by his presence.
- Hughes News & Views
Hughes, News & Views: Terre Haute ‘hacker' accomplishes Mark’s Par Three first
It’s no secret that Mark’s Par Three is not the most difficult golf course in Vigo County.
But it’s enjoyable for beginners and golfers of modest skill levels and it doesn’t lack for activity during warm-weather months.
Open since 1964, it’s had its fair share of players test their skills, probably several better than 43-year-old Brian Brown of Terre Haute.
Hughes, News & Views: Pacers, 500, NFL on mind of curious columnist
One previous time, I believe, my annual May questions column ran one day late into June.
Can you forgive me for this being the second time?
With apologies out of the way, below are questions that have been taking up valuable space in my head lately.
Some are serious, some not so much. Most are sports-related, but don’t blame me if a few are not. After all, newspaper sportswriters don’t eat, sleep and breathe sports 24/7 (contrary to what my Lisa might tell you).
Here we go:
• How funny will the reaction of the national media be when the Indiana Pacers knock off the unbeatable Miami Heat tonight and Monday to take the series and head to an NBA Finals showdown with the San Antonio Spurs? Hint: Several ESPN “experts” will need to change their underwear next week.
Terre Haute runner sets up race to help Boston
Having competed in the Boston Marathon once before in 2003, 35-year-old Majel Wells of Terre Haute thought she should give it another try in 2013.
“My goal was just to finish and enjoy Boston,” she reflected this week. “I had an injury [runner’s knee] beforehand, so I wasn’t too worried about beating my time from 2003 [4 hours, 10.20 seconds].
“But nobody cares about what your time is at Boston anyway.”
From what I’ve heard over the years, she’s right. Unless you’re a super-serious runner, the Boston Marathon has been more about taking in the atmosphere and having fun than placing in the top 50, although Wells was pleased that she beat her previous time by finishing in 3:55.19 on April 15.
Obviously, her race time wasn’t the most vivid memory that Wells took away from her 2013 Boston experience.
Former South players to play in Saylor benefit game
I had my first phone conversation with Mike Saylor since mid-February on Thursday and he sounded good.
The former Terre Haute South High School boys basketball coach, who’s been battling cancer this year, has been traveling back and forth to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for chemotherapy treatments.
Recent South swimmers Roach, Bray heading to DI nationals
I’m sure most of you with office jobs can relate.
When work gets busy, sometimes it’s easy to skim over our emails. After all, how many times do we need to read the same nonsense from alleged Nigerians wanting to make us rich if we’ll send them several thousand dollars first?
So after having three consecutive days off, that almost happened to me when I returned to work Tuesday. Then I realized that the message from Jeff Thompson, Terre Haute South High School’s boys and girls swimming coach, contained significant news.
NCAA Division III basketball tournament returns to Rose-Hulman
The last time Rose-Hulman served as host for the NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament, its game was played inside an old World War II airplane hangar.
You “old-timers” should know the building I’m talking about and the matchup wasn’t really that long ago — March 6, 1997, to be exact.
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When I learned in February 2009 that a rare form of appendix cancer would devastate my life and cause me to miss work for several months, Mike Saylor was among the first to offer assistance.
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Now might be too late for giving Christmas presents, but the book “Trophies and Tears: The Story of Evansville and the Aces” is a fascinating read for longtime Indiana basketball fans, particularly those older than 40.
Written by award-winning Kyle Keiderling of Henderson, Nev., and released in hardcover format in mid-December, the 480-page “Trophies and Tears” documents the rich tradition of the University of Evansville men’s basketball program through recent interviews and research of old yearbooks and newspaper/scrapbook clippings.
The book contains many cheery moments — behind-the-scenes details of all five NCAA College Division (now known as Division II) championships won in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s by the Purple Aces and their legendary coach Arad McCutchan — although some of those moments don’t seem so cheery from an Indiana State perspective when the Sycamores found themselves on the losing end of scores.
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I already know one of my gift wishes is becoming less likely to happen. That would be for the Indianapolis Colts to face the Denver Broncos in the AFC playoffs.
Colts' loyalty tested by Manning, Broncos
We’re approaching the halfway point of the NFL season and so far it’s been surprisingly enjoyable.
I wasn’t sure how I would handle following two favorite teams — 1a.) the Indianapolis Colts and 1b.) Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos — but the new arrangement hasn’t caused me any loyalty conflicts yet.
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My name isn’t attached to them, but I’m the one who usually puts together the “Sports on the air” television/radio listings that appear daily on this newspaper’s Scoreboard Page.
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When we last visited 16-year-old Rachel Gutish, she was finishing sixth in the Women’s Enduro X race in the nationally televised Summer X Games at Los Angeles.
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In June 2011, I wrote a feature story about former Indiana State basketball center Mick Yelovich making a name for himself as a golfer on the Long Drivers Association (LDA) Tour.
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I’ve got a longtime buddy who I’m fairly sure rarely, if ever, reads this column.
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Since May 14, Indiana high school basketball fans have wondered why Jim Jones would want to come out of retirement at 74.
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Phones are ringing less frequently in the Tribune-Star sports department this week.
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If Kylie Hutson were a cross-country runner, she’d be approaching the final stretch of her biggest race in about three weeks.
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Bryan Egli and Joe Puthoff, both Rose-Hulman basketball starters I covered in the late 1990s, took their degrees from the prestigious engineering institute and found successful careers in the Indianapolis area.
Egli, also a former West Vigo High School multi-sport standout, lives in Carmel and works for Thieneman Construction in Westfield. Puthoff lives in Indy and works for Rolls Royce Aircraft Engines.
DAVID HUGHES: Super Bowl odds getting stranger and stranger
Today’s annual “Super Bowl odds column” feels special to me because I’ve been a diehard NFL fan since 1967 and next Sunday will be the first time the big game takes place in our great state of Indiana.
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Almost 10 years ago, February 2002 to be exact, the New England Patriots upset the high-powered St. Louis Rams to win Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans, the Winter Olympics entertained spectators in Salt Lake City and Terre Haute South High School’s girls basketball team started its tournament run toward a Class 4A state title.
HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: Plenty of sports-related gifts for columnist's wish list
Last week, I was all set to beg Santa Claus to give the Indianapolis Colts a certificate good for one NFL regular-season victory.
Then the 2011 Colts decided to play like the 2009 Colts and clobber the Tennessee Titans on Sunday for their first win of the season. So that present won’t be necessary.
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When your favorite NFL team is threatening to finish 0-16, you have to figure a few fans will jump off the bandwagon.
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Jack Butcher, Howard Sharpe and Bill Stearman.
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Lori Wood, the Tribune-Star’s Indianapolis 500 correspondent since 2000, planned to visit a friend in California and take in the IndyCar Las Vegas 300 as a ticket-buying fan last weekend.
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Indiana State football alum Chris “Big C” Hicks will turn 58 Saturday and he knows exactly what he wants for his birthday.
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The Engineers have not endured a losing season since 2004. But they’ve opened this season at 0-2, causing Sokol to admit they’re desperate for a win.
“We’re all very hungry for a victory,” he said after practice Thursday. “We all want to taste victory really, really bad.”
Valley semipro football team reaches championship of IFL
The West Central Wildcats’ semipro football team from Terre Haute has been written about before in this column space over the last two years.
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When I heard the NFL lockout finally ended this week, I looked for someone affiliated with the Indianapolis Colts to get a reaction.
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Chicken wings, of course.
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When I walked in Sweatbox Gym through the alley door Wednesday, I wondered if a time machine had taken me back to the 1950s, the glory days of boxing.
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