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Archive for the ‘Tattoo Training’

Shocking Adult Videos Of Controversial WWE Star Surface Online – TheSportster12.31.19

It's not everyday footage from adult films involving WWE employees get discovered online, so it was particularly shocking when fans unearthed just that over the weekend.

Lars Sullivan is now a trending Twitter topic and, unfortunately, his newfound fame has very little to do with a return to the ring. The former NXT superstar has been spotted in some NSFW films, clips from which you shouldn't expect to find here due to their content. Of course, you're free to search for them on your own.

The homosexual adult films feature what appears to be a young Lars Sullivan, before he joined WWE, going by the name of Mitch Bennett. There has since been claims that it might not be the WWE star but those suggestions have been debunked as his initials "DM" were seen in said footage.

PREVIOUSLY:[Rumor] Why WWE Chose Not To Fire Lars Sullivan

Sullivan, whose real name is Dylan Miley, covered the tattoo a long time ago and wears a completely different one in the same place on his arm.

The wrestler has deleted his Twitter account and his future with WWE is thought to be uncertain, although the fact that the films were released before he joined the promotion should work in his favor.

The former NXT performer was due a big push on the main roster but there has been much controversy ever since he made it to the spotlight. Mental health issues and being made to complete sensitivity training afterhaving postedsome really inappropriate comments online several years ago have stunted his career and this latest bit isn't likely to help.

WWE fined the wrestler $100,000 in addition to having him undergo training but a knee injury has been the most solid hindrance.

Sullivan's knee issues could possibly keep him grounded until June of 2020 but he is said to have been spotted training recently.

Given how things are at the moment, he isn't close to a return to the ring. And, for the time being, there's not a lot to go on where his future with WWE is concerned following this latest revelation.


NEXT:Ricochet Wrestled More Matches Than Anyone Else In WWE This Year

CM Punk Picks His Promo Of The Decade, And It Wasn't His Own

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Shocking Adult Videos Of Controversial WWE Star Surface Online - TheSportster

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Tattooists among the first in the UK to complete infection protection qualification – South Wales Argus12.31.19

TATTOOISTS and acupuncturists from the Gwent and Cardiff region were among the first in the UK to complete a new course designed to prevent infections in their industries.

Torfaen Adult Community Learning was the first provider in the UK to deliver the new Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) course for Infection, Prevention and Control in Special Procedures for Practitioners.

Fourteen tattooists and acupuncturists undertook the training, and have now receivedtheir certificates for successfully completing the course.


The new qualification was delivered in partnership with Dr Sarah Jones from the Welsh Government, who wrote the course.

In 2020, tougher controls will be brought into tattoo parlours and clinics under the existing Public Health Bill, and tattoo artists and those working on body piercing, acupuncture or electrolysis will need a new qualification in Wales.

Once the new legislation becomes law, all practitioners will need to obtain this qualification to get a personal licence, and will be required to demonstrate a knowledge of infection control.

To find out more, you can contact Torfaen Adult Learning on 01633 647647 or email

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Tattooists among the first in the UK to complete infection protection qualification - South Wales Argus

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Piercing shop closes its doors after eight years – Andover Advertiser12.31.19

HE HAS pierced some rather unusual body parts over the years, but now the owner of an Andover shop has decided to close for good after eight years in the town.

Pinz N Needlez, which was based at the Commercial Centre, in Picket Piece, had its final day of trading on December 6.

The owner, known as Spider, said it was a difficult decision to make, but said he needed a more reliable income to support his family.

The father-of-two told the Advertiser: The main reason is I have a mortgage and family and money wasnt constant so I had one really good week and one really bad week. Plus, insurance and rent and everything was going up and I didnt put my prices up so I was chasing all the time.

He added: It took a long time for me to decide and make the decision, I will miss the job and people. But it comes down to money and security.

The 43-year-old, who used to have a shop in the town centre for four years before relocating because the rent was too high, offered laser removal as part of his business and said: It was fun to do. I had all sorts of things, lots of swear words, you would be surprised how many people had swear words tattooed on them. It was usually old tattoos that had been there for so long they looked like a splodge and lots of homemade tattoos which people had done after having a few drinks.

He believes the most painful body part to pierce is a mans nipple, and said the most memorable piercing was when a woman fainted, adding: It will be the people I met and the stories they told that I will miss the most. A lot of people are vulnerable and scared when they see me and they loved to talk. I will miss the people.

Spider said he has been overwhelmed by the comments from customers since he announced the studio would close, saying: I havent cried since I was nine years old and I got choked up and lots of people brought me goodbye presents. Its been a busy last week in the studio.

The dad decided to set up the business after taking voluntary redundancy from a job at Twinings, explaining: I didnt want to be stuck there forever so I took a training course to be a piercer and then took a laser removal course. I wanted to do something different.

He is now going to work as a line manager at Richs global food supplier.

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Pararescue – The Special Ops Unit That Rescues Navy SEALS – Esquire12.31.19


The jumpmaster screams the command over the roaring engine, and the back hatch of the HC-130 aircraft yawns open into night. A cold wind enters the cabin. It brushes past the seven airmen seated in rows, sending stray pieces of paper, fabric, and tape fluttering in the thin air. In front, the team leader, Sergeant St. Clair** looks out past the ramp door. He can see nothing. A low blanket of clouds blots out the moon and stars and erases the distinction between the black sky and the black Atlantic Ocean beneath. He turns back to his men, each strapped with over a hundred-and-fifty pounds of gear. Their faces are lit only by the lambent glow of chemlights.


The seven airmen rise. At the next commandHOOK UP!they clip their parachutes red static lines to a steel cable running over their heads.

Fifteen hundred feet below, their target: the Tamar, a commercial shipping vessel two thirds into its voyage from Baltimore to Gibraltar. Earlier that morning, there had been an explosion onboard, some unknown ignition that had set fire to four sailors working inside the hull. In his distress message, the ships captain wrote that the men had been burned from head to toe. They were in the middle of the Atlantic; the nearest landthe Azores Islandswas over five hundred miles to the east. They were out of range of both U.S. and Portuguese Coast Guard helicopters as well as rescue boats. The mens injuries were severe, requiring expert attention. The captains message was routed from Lisbon to Portsmouth, then to Boston, and on to the airmen in Long Island. Within hours of the explosion, two of the sailors died. The two other mencharred, skin flayedwait now without pain medicine.

U.S. Air Force


A light by the ramp door turns red, and the airmen ready for departure. They are members of U.S. Air Force Pararescueparajumpers, PJs for shortelite Special Operations soldiers whose name few know. Their mission entails rescuing personnel caught in ambushes, injured in IED explosion, trapped behind enemy lines. Trained to jump from planes and perform surgery aboard helicopters, they are the airmen who arrive when the Navy SEALS call 9-1-1. The seven PJs aboard the aircraft tonight, members of the 103rd Rescue Squadron, a unit of the New York Air National Guard's 106th Rescue Wing, represent one of the militarys few reserve Special Ops units. Many of these PJs have served together in Iraq, Afghanistan, and North Africa. When they are not deployed overseas, these PJs are back home, on call, offering emergency support to the maritime community and the U.S. Coast Guard in particularly challenging missions. Which is what these PJs, based out of Westhampton Beach, Long Island, are doing on this April night, 2017nineteen hundred miles east of home.

PJ's practicing for night jump.

The light by the door turns green. GO!

St. Clair duck-steps up to and then over the ramps edge. The red line yanks open his parachute, and hes struck by 130 mph winds. He does not twist. Nor does he deviate off course or lose his bearings. And looking down, St. Clair can see it, the Tamar, its flooding deck lights radiating blurry white against the surrounding black.

He turns, searching the night for another white light, a strobing beacon attached to a canvas-wrapped crate. The crate was cut from the aircraft just before his own departure. It contains the teams only hope of reaching the Tamar: an inflatable rubber boat and a motor. St. Clair maneuvers his parachute, unstrapping mid-air as he chases the blinking beacon.

He collides with the Atlantic. The ten-foot swells drag him from peak to trough. He cuts free the rest of his chute. He swims clear and surveys his surroundings. Then, spotting the beacon through a breaking crest, he makes for the crate as each successive jumper hits the waters around him, fights the seas, unstraps, and follows close behind.

The PJs converge on the crate. They cut its parachute, pop its straps, dewater the boats engine. They radio their status to the aircrew, still flying above, and then contact the ships captain. The Tamars skipper comes over the line now, sounding frantic through the PJs headsets: You have to get the ship. Now!

Nathaniel Welch

In 2007, his life adrift, St. Clair walked into a military recruitment office in Portland, Maine. He was 20 years old. He had decided to leave college, to join the military, and to begin a new life. His mind was set on the Special Forces, and when he learned about the PJs, he signed up.

He hadnt heard of pararescue before. But what he learned after enlisting only made him more excited. The unit traces its lineage to 1943 during the Second World War. A C-46 had failed and the dozens of airmen it carried had bailed out over the jungles between China and present-day Myanmar. The only route to reach the men was by air. So two medical corpsman parachuted down and stayed with the men for over a month, tending to injuries until they could reach safety. By the Vietnam War, Pararescue was an official unit, wearing its signature maroon beret, the color a symbol of its blood sacrifice, and its insignia: an angel cradling an earth. The official motto: These things we do, that others may live.

For many across the armed forces, however, the PJ is a cowboy. PJs embrace the image, tattooing green footprints on their ass cheeks to commemorate their wild legacy, the footprints taken after impressions PJ helicopters would leave on Vietnamese landing fields. Their wild legacy contains numerous exemplars: PJs jumping with patients from exploding helicopters, PJs flying into hurricanes and 80-foot waves, PJs taking bullets to the head and then returning to combat. One story tells of two PJs wrestling in an Afghan hut after a grenade rolled by; each tried to shield the other, competing over who should save whom. The grenade never detonated.

Cowboys or not, the PJs are one of the most decorated enlisted forces. They are also one of the most highly trained. The PJ pipeline, an almost two-year long training program that begins in Texas and then winds across the countryFlorida, Washington, Georgia California, Arizona, New Mexicois one of longest special operations training courses in the world. It turns every recruit into a paramedic, a paratrooper, and a combat diver, as well as an elite shooter. Only twenty percent of recruits make it through the pipeline. Pararescue boasts one of the highest attrition rates in the U.S. military.

Learning all these things never dissuaded St. Clair. The challenges only motivated him. He was given a basic training date. And he shipped off to Texas. Nothing could prepare him for what awaited.

Nathaniel Welch

St. Clair stands over the burned bodies. Scorched from head to foot, limbs in the air, they look almost mummified; the skin from one of the mens faces is singed to the bone. The men had not died of the burns, however, but rather from asphyxiation: the heat had damaged their throats tissues, causing them to leak and swell and block their airways. The men had choked.

As the other PJs finish unloading gear and begin treating the sailors, St. Clair and another PJ, along with the ships second mate, zip up the bodies into bags and carry them below deck to the meat locker. The bodies moved, St. Clair climbs back to the main deck and then up the stairs to the sleeping quarters, where the two survivorsBorut, 24, from Koper, a small city in Slovenia; and Philip**, from Manillastruggle to stay alive. Without intervention, their throats too will swell and their airways close.

The PJs aircraft has turned back west. The Tamar now continues east, toward the Azores, still more than four hundred miles away. For the next two days, the PJs will be the two sailors only hope.

St. Clair ducks into the sailors cabin. He makes his way past a small bathroom and into an open sleeping quarters, the air thick with the stench of sweat, burned flesh, and vomit. Inside, Borut and Phillip lie on adjacent cots. The PJs have converted the room into a fully functional, makeshift ICU: theyve filled the space with medical equipment, turned bedside tables into surgical trays, and opened a window on the back wall to let in fresh air. The window looks out past the stern and over the waters. The ambient buzz of the ships motor would normally filter through the opening. For now, the motor is drowned out by screaming.

He lets out long, gargled yells, punctuated by Tagalog and broken EnglishIm sorry, Im sorry, I know youre helping methen more screaming.

Borut was calm when the PJs first assessed him: sitting up in bed, sipping iced tea with a shipmate. His face and arms, however, are charred, the hair on his head incinerated, the contours of his cheekbones, ears, and jawline obscured by the swelling. Hes also lost massive amounts of fluid from the cellular damage, and though hes at risk of further dehydration after the vomiting, his burns make an I.V. through the vein unfeasible. Once the PJs administer pain medicine, they are forced to drill into Boruts tibia, replenishing fluid through his bone marrow. Philip had sustained similar wounds and now receives the same treatment. But his pain is more visible, and with the PJs treating and moving him, he becomes agitated. He lets out long, gargled yells, punctuated by Tagalog and broken EnglishIm sorry, Im sorry, I know youre helping methen more screaming. Both men can barely see.

With the sailors half-suffocating, St. Clair knows what must be done: the PJs must intubate both mens rapidly-constricting airways, sliding down a tube attached to an oxygen supply. They will try, first, the simplest route: through the mouth and down the throat. Protocol dictates that if this doesnt work after the third attempt, if the swelling blocks the passage, the PJs must attempt to bypass the blockage by going directly through the neck. This procedure, known as a cricothyrotomy, involves cutting a hole into the throat by puncturing the membrane. The tube will be inserted through this hole. It is a procedure of last resort, as the incision is made close to a patients arteries. In this case, since Borut and Philips necks are badly swollen and disfigured, deciding where to cut will have to be done blindly, using ones fingers.

Borut leans forward on his cot, gasping for air. Hands on his knees, his voice nearly gone, he turns to the PJs and pleads for relief. Make it easier, he begs. Please, cut my throat.

U.S. Air Force

St. Clair arrived at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. From there, he began the two-year journey to becoming a PJ. He learned to jump from planes, to rappel from helicopters, to perform trauma surgery while in combat, to survive in the wild. During one portion of training, nicknamed superman school, he learned water-survival skills. He was ordered to jump into the pool with his hands and feet bound together by rope. He was ordered to swim the length of the pool underwater. Then to dive down to the bottom and fetch his mask with his teeth. Instructors call these drills drown-proofing. The pool causes most recruits to quit.

St. Clair made it through. He survived the pool and moved on to Albuquerque to complete his training. There, he met Joyce. When he graduated and was assigned his first duty station, Nellis Air Force Base, in Nevada, he and Joyce moved out to the desert together. Upon arrival, they learned that three PJs, including an airmen St. Clair knew from the pipeline, had been killed in Afghanistan. The PJs had been riding in helicopter when the aircraft was struck by an RPG and crashed. One PJ was just six weeks into his first deployment. St. Clair learned of his own deployment soon after. He would be heading there: Afghanistan.

Before he left, he drove back to Albuquerque where Joyce was in hospital. There, Joyce gave birth to their son. In May of the following year, 2011, St. Clair deployed. He was 24.

He spent the eve before war in a hotel room in Germany. He had the room to himself and passed a sleepless night staring up a spot on the ceiling. Three years earlier, when he entered basic, the ratio of wounded to killed soldiers in Afghanistan was, by some estimates, 6.4. Many were dying on the battlefield, long before they could reach a military hospital. Those who could reach hospital maintained a survival rate close to ninety percent. In 2008, the Defense Department placed renewed focus on prioritizing response efficiency. That meant more helicopter teams, and more PJs. By that year, 2011, the wounded-to-killed ratio had nearly doubled to 12.4; if wounded, a soldier was now twice as likely to survive. St. Clair stared at the ceiling. War didnt scare him. He worried only that he would fail.

Nathaniel Welch

The cabin, turned now into an operating room, has quieted, and the PJs huddle around Borut. They sedate him and begin the first procedure: intubation through the mouth. To assess swelling, they feed a video laryngoscope down into his throat. The hooked device displays on a small screen the anatomy they must bypassuvula, epiglottis, vocal chordsall of which are badly swollen. They remove the camera and begin the intubation. The tube goes into the mouth, slowly. But the first attempt fails, the tube blocked in the throat. On the second, Borut, still unconscious, vomits. The PJs roll him on his side, suction out the vomit, and begin their third and final attempt. St. Clair takes lead on the procedure. He maneuvers the tube down, slowly, past the uvula, the epiglottis, the vocal chords. The intubation succeeds; Boruts lungs fill with fresh oxygen, and hes put on a ventilator, stabilized. The PJs can, for a moment, relax.

Just over five hours have passed since the PJs arrived on the Tamar. They are sleep-deprived and fatigued, their adrenaline spent. A few of them are still wearing their drysuits. Outside, the ships deck is quiet save for its motor, the ambient buzz returning now through the open window.

Though Boruts airway is secured, his limbs will require sustained medical attention. Burns act like tourniquets, constricting blood flow to extremities, causing cells to die and limbs to turn black. To ward off cellular death and amputation, the PJs must lacerate Boruts skin, promoting fresh blood circulation until rescue arrives. To save his limbs, they will make him bleed.

U.S. Air Force

Before extremity procedures, however, the PJs turn their attention to Phillip and his airway. Hed quieted as the pain medication took effect, his screams replaced by speech and occasional calls to one of the PJs. Now, he becomes silent. He begins smacking his lips together, equine-like, his breathing labored.

A PJ feeds the camera down Phillips throat. His anatomy is swollen beyond recognition. The PJs attempt the intubation-by-mouth regardless, but the tube is blocked and the attempt fails. Phillips condition is now rapidly deteriorating. The PJs have no choice; they must cut through the neck.

St. Clair watches as the first incision is made: vertically, down from the Adams apple, opening an access point to the inner membrane. Blood and fluid puddled outside the bloodstream spill out through the incision. St. Clair takes the scalpel. He leans over his patient, readying for the second incision. But the liquid and swelling prevent him from finding the membrane. He will have to feel for it and then puncture blindly.

He palpates the tissue. Then, pinching back the tissue, St. Clair cuts through the membrane into Phillips throat.

St. Clair

In May 2011, St. Clair landed in Afghanistan. Almost immediately, he took off again in helicopter. The Afghan skies trapped the smells of smoke and burningburnt farmland, burnt hay, burnt trashand heat, which stuck to his face, mixed with the burnt garbage, and climbed up into his nose. The sun glared off the farm fields. He locked and loaded a round into his M-4 for the first time in combat, over the wire.

His first mission was to extract a dehydrated British soldier. It wasnt a glorious mission, but St. Clair was glad for the experience. And soon he would fly a dozen missions each day, back and forth to base, rescuing multiple patients on each trip, treating them, passing them off to medical units on the ground, then heading out for more. He had just enough time between these twelve-hour shifts to sleep, eat, and work out. Many of the shifts were at night. In the five months he was there, St. Clair treated over 400 U.S. and coalition soldiers, contractors, Afghan soldiers, police, and civilians.

During one mission, he saved an American soldier, a triple amputee torn apart by an IED blast. The day was significant; 7,600 miles away, his son was celebrating his first birthday. St. Clair missed home. He felt guilty. But he knew he was needed there, in Afghanistan. He was making the difference.

He saved an American soldier, a triple amputee torn apart by an IED blast. 7,600 miles away, his son was celebrating his first birthday.

Still, 2011 proved to be the U.S. militarys costliest year to date. In July, St. Clairs friend was shot while rescuing Marines pinned down by insurgents. The round bounced off the helicopters door and tore through both his legs. He survived and returned home, where his left leg was amputated.

St. Clair returned home in September, the day after his 25th birthday. Seven months later, he went back to Afghanistan for another tour before rotating to Japan, moving again with Joyce and their son. There, the couple gave birth to their second son, and St. Clair decided that it was time to stop moving. He transferred from active duty to the National Guard in Long Island, to the 103rd. The family moved to Long Island, New York. They bought a house with a pool, a small patch of woods, and a large backyard for raising their two boys. St. Clair commuted to work, prepared for future deployments, trained, remained on call. It was is 2017. For once, life was relatively normal.

And then early one morning on April 24, 2017, his phone buzzed. The text from his major: I need you to come in. Something is brewing.

Nathaniel Welch


The major shouts the time warning across the deck, and the PJs ready for patient extraction. Its morning of the third day. The clouds are settled low here and there like torn patchwork over the churning ocean. A Portuguese helicopter appears along the horizon.

The hours had blurred since the final procedure. Fatigued, the PJs had broken into shifts. Some would eat and rest. Others would maintain patient care. They performed the cutting incisions along Borut and Philips limbs, hoping to avoid future amputation. They cleaned these wounds and monitored the sailors conditions around the clock. Earlier that morning, the time came for rescue. The PJs mobilized the two sailors onto stretchers and then carefully moved the men down the exterior stairwell to the ships deck. They wait there now.

The Portuguese helicopter approaches the Tamar. Flying into the wind, the pilot steadies the helo over the moving ship. The PJs help hoist the sailors onto the helicopter. The pilot then turns and flies back east to Lisbon. The PJs mission has come to an end.

As St. Clair watches the helicopter disappear over back across the waters, he thinks of home. Joyce has been receiving updates from base, but she has not heard from St. Clair in three days. He had left without the chance to say goodbye.

The sun parts the patchwork. The islands of the Azores blossom along the horizon. Signal returns to the PJs phones, and St. Clair makes the call.

When he had graduated the pipeline all those years ago, he didnt tattoo green footprints on his ass. Around his left leg he had strung instead a reminder for the future: a pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood. And then, on the other, he had a sleeve printed, greyscale stone statues with two signs of life: a crab apple blossom, like the one from his childhood home, representing his mother, and a dove, Joyce.

She answers the phone. And then passes the phone to a boy. The boy, turning eight soon, wants to know where his father has been, and St. Clair provides the best summary he can. Daddy was on a ship helping people who were hurt in a fire, he says. Then, his second son takes the phone. To his three-year-old, St. Clair begins again: Daddy was .... on a boat.

And then, most importantly: Daddy is coming home.

U.S. Air Force

After there days at sea, the nineteen men who took part in the Tamar mission returned to New York. Though they were never recognized for their achievements at home, half a world away in Boruts home, Slovenia, they became national heroes. A month later the team was rewarded Slovenias Medal for Merit in the Military Field by President Borut Pahor. The two sailors reached a Lisbon hospital not long after rescue. Despite burns on over half his body (prompting several successive reconstructive surgeries) Borut lost only two nails on his finger tips. Phillip, though equally burned, miraculously escaped amputation. The two men have since returned home to their families.

A previous version of this article referred to subjects as soldiers. The piece has been updated to more accurately reflect their titles as airmen.

*St. Clair has no relation to the author. **Some names have been changed in this story.

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Pararescue - The Special Ops Unit That Rescues Navy SEALS - Esquire

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Top 10 woke arguments of the decade – The Post Millennial12.31.19

Hating on Hallmark has become an annual right of passage for progressive journalists, and Amanda Marcottes Salon piece Hallmark movies are fascist propaganda absolutely does not disappoint. Instead of taking the usual tack of calling it basic and boring, Marcotte deems it discriminatorily heteronormative, and authoritarian.

She writes: Hallmark movies, with their emphasis on returning home and the pleasures of the small, domestic life, also send a not-at-all subtle signal of disdain for cosmopolitanism and curiosity about the larger world, which is exactly the sort of attitude that helps breed the kind of defensive white nationalism that we see growing in strength in the Donald Trump era.

I havent actually seen a Hallmark movie. But these are an odd handful of things to conflate. Its not authoritarian to want to live in small towns. Its not white nationalist to be happy to leave urban life. And its not Trumpian to plant roots in a locality and find a home there. He doesnt seem to be about that at all, in fact.

Hallmark movies are for that wacky, wild subculture that everyone loves to hate, white heteronormative women. Its super popular these days to hate women who want to fall in love and raise families, and if theyre white, we heap on the vitriolic icing even thicker.

The qualities that people cite when they defend Hallmark movies comforting, formulaic, soothingare all a result of the aggressively conformist impulse that drives them, Marcotte writes. And that impulse and fealty to the dominant culture stands in direct contrast to the values of diversity Hallmark facetiously claims to hold.

But Hallmark is a cable channel making saccharine movies for a niche audience. The only thing that the recent kerfuffle over a lesbian wedding shows is that Hallmark is anxious not to piss anyone off. First, they ran ads for online wedding registry Zola, which featured a lesbian wedding, then when they got blowback, they pulled them, and when that engendered hate, they tried to put them back. Does Hallmark Channel have integrity? Maybe, maybe not, but really they just want people to watch their cute little movies, have a good cry, and hope for a better tomorrow.

Thats the message I got, and as I said, I havent even watched the films. Marcotte takes issue with the typical Hallmark leading lady, a career woman in the big city who only realizes true values and happiness when she heads back to her small town and establishes meaningful relationships. But the thing is, and this is coming from a career woman in the big city, relationships are the most important thing in life. Love really matters, and pretty much nothing else does. Marcottes idea that finding compassion, companionship, and camaraderie in a familiar place, is authoritarian, is demeaning. In fact, its anathema to real-world experience.

Career and success are great and whatever, but finding understanding in another person is better, and creating a life into which you can bring a new human is probably the best thing of all. Yeah, I said that. I even think its true. Lots of people do, even if it never seems to turn out right or be what you expected. These movies are fantasies, after all, just the kind where learning from past mistakes is possible, and happiness is more than a fleeting, fickle emotion.

In hating on Hallmark, Marcotte takes aim at The Federalist (where I am a Senior Contributor). If you dont believe me, she writes, listen to authoritarians themselves. At The Federalist, which is ground zero website for generating frankly fascist culture war arguments, Hans Fiene argues that, culturally speaking, Hallmark Christmas movies are noticeably Christian. But what is her argument if not a frankly fascist one? Shes saying that the lifestyle represented in these Hallmark movies, fantastical and unrealistic though it may well be, is authoritarian simply because shes not into it, and finds it problematic with regard to her view of identity politics. She doesnt like the predictable storyline. But not everyones up for complex meta drama all the time. We dont need to watch Requiem for a Dream just to feel like were in touch with the dingy reality of things. And no, I didnt watch that movie either.

Its okay for people to live in different ways than Marcotte wishes them to. Her evidence of fascism, authoritarianism, and totalitarianism, and she uses these terms interchangeably for purposes of degrading these films, is entirely symbolic. She claims that Hallmark movie harken back to Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahls work, that Goebbels would have approved of them because they emphasize a certain, dominant concept of normalcy. She doesnt define fascism, authoritarianism, or totalitarianism outside of 20th century symbols of them, and one wonders if she knows what the words mean. What is totalitarian is the Chinese governments burning books that dont align with the communist party line, and the crackdown on theaters by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Running down this years schedule of Christmas movie offerings is like a trip into an uncanny valley of shiny-teethed, blow-dried heteronormative whiteness, with only a few token movies with characters of color. Its like watching The Stepford Wives, but scarier, since the evil plot to replace normal people with robots is never actually revealed. None of this should be a surprise, because Hallmark movies, as cloying and saccharine as they are, constitute the platonic ideal of fascist propaganda, write Marcotte.

But what Marcotte forgets is that the heternormative concept of normalcy is not dominant anymore. Most televised offerings have plenty of alt lifestyle living characters, these heteronormative pumpkin spice latte storylines are pigeonholed onto a little cable network that is super easy to avoid. Plus there are heteronormative white people out there, and we shouldnt judge people harshly just because of their identifiers. Straight, white people with boring taste in movies dont deserve hate for it, and theyre not fascist for accepting who they are. And if theyre watching Hallmark, theyre paying for cablehavent they been punished enough?

Flimsy, guilty pleasure movies, that have an easily digestible story where the leading lady always gets her man, are just that. Many women and men would trade everything they have for that kind of real life storyline. Hallmark movies make going home again look easy, and we know its not, we know its excruciating, complicated and messy. Its okay to wish for true love outside the complex confines of independent films, and to want to watch a narrative that you can fall asleep to and still not miss anything. Theres nothing inherently bad about being a white woman who wants to fall in love and raise a family and live in the same small town where she grew up. No one has to want it, but we can all aspire to love if we want to.

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Top 10 woke arguments of the decade - The Post Millennial

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Prishtina Insight’s most read stories of 2019 – Prishtina Insight12.25.19

In spite of a year dominated by heavy political events in Kosovo, our 10 most engaging features and commentaries tackle subjects as diverse as tattoo artists and satirists, memoirs and photo essays on the Kosovo war, as well as perspectives on the countrys women politicians and foreign policy.

10. Tattooing: A story of pride, prejudice and pop culture

Sulejman Fani and Betim Kadriu opened Heavy Ink tattoo parlor. | Photo: Atdhe Mulla.

Eve-anne Travers explores the art of tattooing in Kosovo, rewinding to discuss the evolution of the practice from the Yugoslav era to the aftermath of the Kosovo war, before bringing the story up to todays tattoo enthusiasts.

The story explores the passion of young Kosovar tattoo artists, their hardships, societal prejudices and the evolution of the industry through the decades in a culture that is beginning to thrive.

9. A memory from Prizren: June 13, 1999

Photo: Anna Di Lellio.

Anna Di Lellio recalls an emotional trip from Albania to Prizren in June 1999, the day after Kosovo was liberated from Serbian rule. Then a UN aid worker, Di Lellio reminisces about the warm welcome she received from Kosovo Albanians on the day the NATO tanks rolled into the city of Prizren 20 years ago.

All the women flock to me. They smile broadly and give flowers to the German soldiers and my colleagues, but they want to touch and hug only me, the only woman in the convoy. One woman gives me an embroidered handkerchief, which could have been one made by my mother back in Italy. I feel overwhelmed. Its not time to cry though, because happiness is everywhere.

8.A one million dollar highway: faster roads, poorer people

Photo: Atdhe Mulla.

Eraldin Fazliu criticizes the plans of the outgoing Kosovo Government to launch another costly highway construction project, spending another one billion euros on asphalt while neglecting truly pressing issues such as education reform and Kosovos struggling healthcare system:

The debate over spending hundreds of millions on a project which is doomed to bring harm has to start before it becomes too late. Kosovo citizens cannot afford to pay for another extortionate highway that would fill the pockets of a single company and the irresponsible politicians that facilitate it, while the pockets of Kosovos taxpayers remain empty.

7.In photos: Scars of the NATO bombing campaign

Photo: Valerie Plesch.

Photographer and journalist Valerie Plesch traveled across different regions of Kosovo, capturing locations where the footprints of the NATO bombing campaign are still visible, even two decades after the war.

From buildings razed to the ground, disintegrating tanks and destroyed ammunition factories to memorials erected to commemorate the victims from NATOs offensive, Pleschs photos show a side of Kosovo that hides in plain sight, a landscape that continues to bear marks left by the war.

6.Final Deal does not guarantee UN membership for Kosovo

Illustration by Granit Mavriqi/BIRN.

Visar Xhambazi sheds light on the falsehood that Kosovo will be able to secure a seat at the United Nations in the event that an agreement is reached with Serbia:

While it is generally proclaimed and understood that a final deal with Serbia would open the way for UN membership for Kosovo, there are no signals whatsoever from China or Russia regarding this. Most importantly, there is no proposed option or explanation on how to overcome this challenge, argues Xhambazi, before exploring a number of potential scenarios examining how Kosovo can overcome potential Russian and Chinese vetoes against its membership.

5.Life in a Kosovo village in the 1970s

Photo: Ann Christine Eek.

Rina Krasniqi interviewed photographer Ann Christine Eek, who returned to Kosovo after more than four decades with her exhibition of 50 black and white photographs capturing life in the village of Isniq in Decan in the 1970s. During the interview, Eek describes her first encounter with villagers of Isniq in her first trip to Kosovo in 1976, the photos from which will be exhibited in the Kosovos National Gallery until mid-January.

I became very close with the women I photographed, Eek says. It was very important to observe their slowly changing role in those constructed family hierarchies, which were being challenged by them starting to attend school and taking up education. She pauses and points to one of the photographs that shows a young girl sitting at a desk with a notebook: For example, this girl is the first in the village to study medicine, Eek explains enthusiastically.

4.Kosovos foreign policy needs a software update

Eve-anne Travers explores what was a disastrous era for Kosovo foreign policy in recent years, with experts offering examples of the strategic goals and fresh approaches needed to stop the rot in regard to views on Kosovos sovereignty and legitimacy internationally.

The analysis reflects on the need to expand and reinforce bilateral diplomatic relations with countries that have already recognized Kosovo, rather than the countrys foreign service spending all of its energy on attempts at EU accession and vying for a seat at the United Nations.

3.Kosovo women need answers, not an iron lady

LDKs candidate for prime minister Vjosa Osmani. Photo: Atdhe Mulla.

In the build up to Octobers parliamentary elections, Shqipe Gjocaj criticized the a priori endorsement of Vjosa Osmani of the Democratic League of Kosovos candidacy as the only woman running to become Kosovos prime minister in Octobers parliamentary elections.

For Gjocaj, Osmani failed to address the needs of the countrys women. What these women need is not only an acknowledgement of the challenges that they, as half of the population, face on a daily basis, but for a clear strategic program on how to address and combat these challenges, she argued.

2.Mensur Safciu: Kosovos satirical sheriff

Mensur Safciu. | Photo: Atdhe Mulla.

Eraldin Fazliu sat down with one of the most influential satirists in Kosovos contemporary history, Mensur Safciu, during which Safciu reflects on the socio-political message behind the humor he and his comedic group Stupcat bring to Kosovar audiences.

In the interview, the satirist expressed a strong belief in comedys utility as a vehicle of socio-political emancipation. Laughing is a gift that only human beings can execute, he says. As far as I know, humor is not for training your abdominal muscles. It is rehabilitation for a society.

1.The darker side of Prishtinas massage parlors

Illustration for Prishtina Insight: Jete Dobranja/Trembelat

Valon Fanas investigation delves into the illegal activities of massage parlors in Prishtina following a crackdown on the industry by the state authorities.

From human trafficking and the employment of underage women in some of the premises, to violations of peoples most basic human rights, Fana explores the story behind dozens of parlors that were the subject of raids by Kosovo Police during 2018.

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Three key positions the Falcons could address once the offseason begins – The Athletic12.24.19

Only one game remains in the 2019 season.

With the Falcons holding a 6-9 record, this certainly hasnt been a season they will want to look back upon fondly. But with the season almost complete, it soon will be time to ensure the issues that failed the Falcons are fixed before the 2020 season begins.

There will be many areas to address with this team, and that doesnt even include owner Arthur Blanks big decision as to whether he will make a change at head coach and/or general manager.

But as it pertains to player personnel, here are three positions Atlanta might pay close attention to once the offseason begins.

Edge rusher

Vic Beasley was notified midseason that he was on the trading block. The Falcons couldnt find any takers for the former first-round draft pick. Since the bye week, however, Beasley has been a different player. After holding 1.5 sacks at the break, he has totaled 6.5 in the past seven games. Two more sacks would...

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Looking to stand out, Auburns Sal Cannella will launch his own clothing line after bowl game – Montgomery Advertiser12.24.19


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AUBURN Sal Cannella has always been the type of person who likes to stand out.

I dont really like to blend in, the senior Auburn wide receiver said. Id rather be the center of attention than be in the background.

But, in terms of appearance, there arent many ways to do that on the football field. Cannella has a sleeve of tattoos down his right arm and a long mane of brownish blonde hair that flows out of the back of his helmet, but at the end of the day, hes wearing the same jersey, pads and cleats that everyone else on the roster is.

Because football, of course, is a team sport. I love all that. But youre constricted, he said. I like to do my own personalized stuff.

Cannellas outlet for that is fashion. There are a few guys on Auburns team who dress well, he said, but hes far and away No. 1. His Instagram page, which has more than 20,000 followers, is filled with photos of him wearing clothes that he definitely did not buy at Old Navy or Kohls.

Graduation, like a football game, is an event where everyone is wearing the same thing a cap and gown. Cannella set himself apart by wearing shiny silver Christian Louboutin Red Bottom shoes with spiked studs on the toe.

The shoes just make everything pop. It could be just some plain stuff, but the shoes will make it go, he said. Regardless of outfit, everyone is going to look at the shoes.

And fashion isnot just a hobby. The degree Cannella earned from Auburn earlier this month is in apparel merchandising, design and production management. He already has plans in place to launch his own clothing line, NNella Clothing, after the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl against Minnesota, which will be the final game of his college football career.

The designs are mostly complete, the samples should be coming in from his overseas manufacturer soon and the website is almost ready for launch. Cannella could be even farther along than that, but hes not trying to mess with the NCAA they dont want us to make any money while were in school, he said.

This plan has been in the works for the past four years, Cannella said. He hails from Schaumburg, Illinois, which is just 30 miles outside of Chicago, but his love of fashion was inspired by a move to Scottsdale, Arizona, to play junior college football in 2015.

It was just a different lifestyle out there, he said. Everywhere you went, people were dressed up. There was just a different and higher standard of dressing and living out there, so when I was out there, it was kind of like, OK, you got to catch up or youre going to get left behind. So, boom, theres a whole bunch of stores youre not going to find in Chicago that you can find out on the west coast, so all that stuff kind of sparked my interest.

The plan became to get to a Division I school on a football scholarship, study fashion and start his own clothing line while pursuing his dream of playing the NFL. Cannella has crossed off Nos. 1 and 2, and hell start on No. 3 next month.

Auburn signed Cannella as a three-star tight end out of Scottsdale Community College in the Class of 2017. He has played in 36 games as a wide receiver over the past three seasons and caught 24 passes for 293 yards and four touchdowns, the latest being a 14-yard score from quarterback Bo Nix in the Tigers 48-45 win over Alabama in last months Iron Bowl.

During that time, Cannella also learned how to sew and tailor his own clothes, a useful skill when shirts and pants dont fit quite right. He also made a collared shirt for one of his classes, but hes good on that going forward. Id rather just design, he said.

The initial launch of NNella Clothing will feature two different color shirts and hoodies, so four items overall, and will be limited Cannella isplanning on having only 100 to 200 items available at release. The concept for each item takes around a month to design, from initial sketch to final product.

It either comes to you or it just doesnt. I dont really reach for it, Cannella said. Its kind of like a tattoo whatever I put my name behind, Im going to make sure its as nice as it can be. So if its something like, Oh, I need to get this out, then no I was in no rush.

What Cannella is going for is high-end streetwear, which is defined as sort of a luxury version of the skate, surf and hip-hop fashion culture of the 1980s and 90s casual leisurewear with bold logos, colors and graphics. But he doesnt want it to be anything people could find in a casual chain story like H&M or Zara.

I dont know how this is going to sound, but Im gearing it to what I, like, personally envision and what I personally like. Its not directed toward anybody, Cannella said. Its not like, Oh, Im in the South, so I got to make some stuff that people in the South are going to like. Its like, if you like it, you like it. It doesnt matter where youre from. If youre going to rock with it, youre going to rock with it.

Once Cannella comes up with the design of the piece, hell send that and the measurements for how it should fit to his manufacturer in Hong Kong. They make whatever adjustments are necessary, make a prototype and send pictures back to Cannella for his final corrections before sending it to production. They have also sent him different sample pieces of clothes popular on that side of the world so he can play around and get some inspiration.

Hong Kong is 14 hours ahead of the central time zone, so that means a lot of late-night communication for Cannella. The company is pretty much just him right now, outside of a little help from his parents with shipping stuff out.

Auburn wide receiver Sal Cannella (80) catches a touchdown pass against Alabama in the Iron Bowl on Nov. 30, 2019.(Photo: Kirsten Fiscus/Advertiser)

Cannella would love to one day go to a Fashion Week, particularly in Paris. He would love even more to be a part of it, to see people modeling his clothes. He said he knows a lot of people in the fashion industry that have already told him that they will support him and wear his clothes to their photo and video shoots.

The primary focus is still football, of course first on the Outback Bowl, and then on Aprils NFL draft. Cannella said he will head back to Arizona after his final game in an Auburn uniform and spend the next seven weeks there preparing for pro day.

His college production might not be enough to get him drafted, but hes still 6-foot-5 and 228 pounds with leaping ability experience playing both tight end and wide receiver. That might be good enough to earn a spot on a training camp roster if he impresses the right scout during the predraft process.

But there are only so many hours in a day a player can spend training. Cannella plans many of the rest focusing on his other passion.

Football is the main thing, he said. Because football is going to make the fashion go even further. Its only going to bring in more revenue. The dream is to play football. Thats always been the goal. But the fashion stuff is going to be there.

Josh Vitale is the Auburn beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoshVitale. To reach him by email,click here.

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How to disagree well: Two close friends who have reason to hate each other – BBC News12.24.19

Fiona Gallagher and Lee Lavis have good reason to hate each other - but have became close enough to regard each other as brother and sister. It's a friendship which they believe has much to teach others, writes the BBC's Hugh Levinson.

Fiona Gallagher was born in 1968 to a Catholic family in Derry who were firm nationalists. She grew up with what became known as The Troubles.

"My memories are literally cluttered with recollections of foot patrols, house raids. Our house was raided over a period of 13 years. And it would have been maybe every other month, every two months. But it was constant. These men, came into my bedroom, at 4am, 5am, shouted me out of my bed. That's chaos, roaring, muddle. Those are my earliest memories and they are all terror."

It was a close family - and Fiona felt particular affection for her oldest brother Jim. "He was very giggly, you know, he would have had a great sense of humour. He was a very tall, beautiful, solid fellow, very gentle-natured. And he just adored his family and especially me."

At the age of 16 in January 1972, Jim by chance witnessed the events of Bloody Sunday - when British soldiers shot 28 unarmed civilians during a protest. Fourteen died. Jim was radicalised by what he had seen and joined the IRA. "That was his mission then, to defend his people," Fiona remembers.

Soon after, Jim was arrested, convicted of being an IRA member and sent to jail for four years. Just six days after his release, a soldier shot him dead. For Fiona, this cemented her revulsion of the British military.

"I remember their uniform. I remember their visors on their helmets. I remember their guns. And I hated them. I totally dehumanised them. To me they were just uniform. They'd no face because they were faceless to me."

Lee Lavis was brought up in a small village near Burton-on-Trent. He left school at the age of 16 with no qualifications. He found work as an apprentice butcher but wanted a change. "Frozen ox liver at six o'clock in the morning isn't much fun," he says.

In 1988 he decided to join the army "because I was 18 and I was full of teenage hubris and this kind of mythological view of war - medals, bravery, being met on the quayside by a grateful nation". He did two tours of duty in Northern Ireland at the tail end of the troubles, in strongly nationalist areas including South Armagh. He had a clear and fixed opinion about the local civilians.

"Part of military training is your enemy is dehumanised," he says. "Because the IRA was almost exclusively drawn from the Nationalist community, it wasn't long before [I viewed] that whole community over there as in the IRA. I even used to view the kids as tomorrow's IRA. So in that sense, I kind of viewed the whole nationalist community as guilty."

Lee's attitudes started to change during his second tour of duty. He began to read about Irish history and culture. The big change happened when he was invited to go away for a weekend with members of a disabled youth club from Newry.

"In that kind of circumstance, where we stay for a weekend watching this football match, they became human to me. Suddenly I found out what it was like to be on the other side - the fear of just going to do your shopping. There might be an army patrol and someone might fire."

Meanwhile, becoming a mother gave Fiona pause for thought. "That's when I started questioning myself. It is up to me if I pass everything on to the next generation."

Five years ago, she was on Facebook and clicked on a video made by a former soldier on the Veterans for Peace page. "I was expecting to hear the same rhetoric - to big up the British Army and the wars, but I could see he wasn't saying that, he was saying the opposite. I got very emotional."

Fiona wrote an impassioned post in response. "I just spilled everything out and held nothing back."

Meanwhile Lee had had his own transformation. He had survived many challenges including addiction and homelessness and restarted his education. With a postgraduate degree in conflict resolution under his belt, he came across Fiona's post on the website. "I remember reading it and just had this urge - I would like to meet this woman," he says.

After emails and texts back and forth, they agreed to meet in person in a bar.

"I'm walking towards the door to go in," recalls Fiona, "and everything is slowing down for me. What I imagined I was going to meet in there was a soldier with a gun. It took me right back to my childhood. But I just thought: 'Come on, put one foot in front of the other.'"

Lee was just as nervous. "I suppose I had this sort of uncertainty. I had this image of someone who was going to walk in with an Easter lily and a Tiocfaidh r l [Our Day Will Come] badge."

Fiona was first take the initiative. "I thought, 'What do I do next?' I'm a hugger and Lee definitely was not a hugger at the time. I just went over and nearly threw myself on him and hugged him."

The pair quickly became friends, with a relationship based around everyday conversations about family life and shared passions.

"Now we've transcended speaking about the conflict. We'd be more apt to speak about music," says Lee. "We went to see Morrissey together because we're both big Smiths fans. That's prior to me burning all my Morrissey CDs, given some of his recent statements."

They both speak warmly of each other. "That man is a massive part of my life. He's such a lovely soul," says Fiona.

"I would view Fiona as a sister, someone I love to death," says Lee.

Douglas Alexander presents A Guide to Disagreeing Better on BBC Radio 4 at 20:00 on New Year's Eve - it is available now as a Seriously podcast

How did they do it?

They are clear that their friendship is not based on them always seeing eye to eye.

"Do we agree about a united Ireland?" asks Lee. "That's something Fiona and I would not agree on. I'm not a Republican. I'm an Englishman in Belfast. So for economic reasons I'd vote for continued union."

Fiona can cope with that. "Wouldn't the world be really boring if we all agreed with each other?" she says.

To become this close - and this relaxed about differences of outlook - what was required, they both say, was total honesty.

For instance, Lee recalls a tactic he used when on infantry foot patrol. "My instinct was to look for children from the nationalist community and get among them. No sniper would fire if I'm surrounded by children. At the time I didn't think about the fact I was using children as human shields."

He has been frank about this when talking to Fiona. "I never tried to dress that up. I never tried to downplay my attitude to her community when I was in the army."

Fiona says many people find this level of honesty too frightening - and urges them to overcome the fear.

"No matter what you do, no matter how you try to move forward and disagree better, or listen and understand, there's always going to be somebody that's going to bring you down about it, ridicule me or be negative about it. Let the negativity go. Don't be afraid."

Douglas Alexander presents A Guide to Disagreeing Better on BBC Radio 4 at 20:00 on New Year's Eve - it is available now as a Seriously podcast

In 1996, a black teenager protected a white man from an angry mob who thought he supported the racist Ku Klux Klan. It was an act of extraordinary courage and kindness - and is still inspiring people today.

The teenager who saved a man with an SS tattoo

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From the Ulster Hall to Madison Square Garden. Professional boxing review of 2019 – The Irish News12.24.19

Michael Conlan (featherweight)

2019: 3-0, career: 13-0

THE biggest draw in Irish boxing nowadays, Conlan signed off on a year of steady progress with a landslide points win over Olympic Games nemesis Vladimir Nikitin at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Conlan began 2019 by out-pointing Ruben Garcia Hernandez at the Garden before he focussed his energy on a return home as the headline act on the very successful Feile an Phobail card at his native Falls Park.

What a night that was. A purpose-built stadium packed out in the heart of west Belfast and headline act Conlan who was originally supposed to fight Nikitin before the Russian pulled out with a bicep injury sent the fans home happy by stopping Diego Alberto Ruiz to win the WBA and WBO Inter-Continental featherweight titles.

The WBO version was on the line when Conlan and Nikitin did go at it on December 14 and Conlan avenged his Olympic Games loss with a shut-out points win. He dominated the 10 rounds, mixing slick defence with fast hands and was able to mix it with brawler Nikitin when he needed to. On St Patrick's Day next year he'll be back at Madison Square Garden and, assuming all goes according to plan, he'll be in the frame for a world title shot before the end of the year.

Katie Taylor (light-middleweight)

2019: 3-0, career: 15-0

THE only way was up for her after she unified the lightweight division and Taylor became only the third Irish fighter after Steve Collins and Carl Frampton to win world titles at two weights when she scored a hard-won unanimous decision win over Christina Linardateu in Manchester.

Trained by Ross Enamait, dedicated Taylor began 2019 as the WBA and IBF lightweight world champion. She added the WBO belt by stopping previously unbeaten Rose Valente in Philadelphia and just three months later she became the undisputed queen of the division when, on the undercard of Anthony Joshua v Andy Ruiz at Madison Square Garden, the Bray native out-boxed Delfine Persoon over 10 competitive rounds.

A role-model for female sport, Taylor will continue to target the best next year and the pity is that it seems she is unlikely to fight on her native soil.

Carl Frampton (super-featherweight)

2019: 1-0 Career: 27-2

KEPT his powder dry throughout 2019 and fought just once a return to form against previously unbeaten Tyler McCreery in Las Vegas on November 30.

His lay-off was extended by a freak accident in August just days before he was due to face Emmanuel Dominguez in Philadelphia. A concrete pillar in his hotel lobby fell on his hand, breaking the fifth metacarpal on his left hand and forcing him out of the fight. Frampton returned to beat McCreery over 10 rounds at a catchweight 128lbs but injured both hands in the process and required surgery last week.

Fitness permitting, he now looks certain to take on WBO super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring in Lay with Belfast's SSE Arena the most likely venue although Windsor Park and Madison Square Garden have also been mentioned.

The Jackal will be 33 by then but by no means over the hill. Herring is physically bigger but, as promoter Bob Arum remarked: They'll both weigh the same at the weigh-in.

Anthony Cacace (super-featherweight)

2019: 2-0, career: 18-1

RUMOURS of the end of his boxing career were greatly exaggerated. This time last year the Apache' looked washed-up. He didn't fight at all in 2018 and the word was that he had hung up his gloves.

But the classy Belfast super-featherweight returned with spectacular effect in 2019.

Ignited by his return to former amateur coach Harry Hawkins, Cacace made up for lost time by beating experienced Alan Castillo (26-7) in February and then set his sights on a second British title fight against big-hitting Sam Bowen.

As the challenger, away from home, not given tickets for his family or allowed to wear the gloves he wanted, the odds were stacked against Cacace but he ripped up the script and captured the Lonsdale belt with masterful display of boxing. That win has opened a lot of doors for him and if he retains his focus, the affable southpaw can find a way through them.

Tommy McCarthy (cruiserweight)

2019: 4-1, career 16-2

McCARTHY'S Italian job is one of the stand-out memories of 2019. In October the Lenadoon cruiserweight travelled to Trento to take on defending champion Fabio Turchi and broke the Italian down to win the WBC International title.

It was a coming-of-age performance from McCarthy who had shown glimpses of his class previously but hadn't put together the focussed 12-rounds that he produced to dethrone Turchi.

It's definitely the win of my career, said McCarthy afterwards.

I felt comfortable in the fight, I dug deep when I had to and I used everything that I had to my boxing skills, my grip, my power It was a great performance.

Previously McCarthy had lost for the second time in his career against big-punching Richard Riakporhe. McCarthy had started well in that fight, hurting the Londoner in the second round, before he was caught with a booming right hand in the fourth.

Tyrone McKenna (light-welterweight)

2019: 3-0, career: 20-1-1

THREE wins out of three for the Mighty Celt' who won the WBC International title and defended it against Mikey Sakyi with one of the most disciplined and impressive performances of his career in the quarter-finals of the Golden Contract' tournament.

A natural entertainer (who is now sporting a tattoo of fellow fighter Tyrone McCullagh) McKenna does tend to mix it more than he needs to at times but he is now being trained by the astute Pete Taylor. The Dubliner should get the best out of the talented and now experienced tall, rangy southpaw.

Tyrone McCullagh (super-bantamweight)

2019: 2-0, career: 14-0

THE Derry fighter had a quiet 2019 but he is now looking forward to the semi-finals of the featherweight edition of the Golden Contract tournament in February. White Chocolate' defended his WBO European title against Alvaro Rodriguez in May and then scored a unanimous points win over Razaq Najib. He'll be chasing more belts in 2020.

Luke Keeler (middleweight)

2019: 2-0, career: 17-2-1

KEELER was fighting journeymen two years ago, now he is preparing for a shot at Demetrius Andrade's WBO title.

The Dubliner's improvement under Pete Taylor's astute coaching has been remarkable. He began the year with a rematch against Conrad Cummings and beat the Coalisland fighter comfortably on points at the Ulster Hall to regain the WBO European title. His climb up the rankings continued when he went on to out-point Luis Arias at Falls Park and with those wins he forced his way into contention for a shot at Andrade's belt in Miami, Florida on January 30.

Steven Ward (light-heavyweight)

2019: 3-1, career 12-1

THE Quiet man from Newtownabbey hauled himself off the canvas to beat Liam Conroy and win the European light-heavyweight title and, after a spell training alongside Carl Frampton in Las Vegas, he was looking forward to finishing off the year with a bang in the quarter-finals of his division's Golden Contract tournament.

Ward didn't pay too much attention to his rivals, reasoning that doing so was wasting energy because he might never get to face them. He concentrated on improving his own game but his mindset may have counted against him and his pick in the draw, Richard Bolotniks, caught him early on with a peach of a shot that left Ward clinging on.

He did his best to ride out the storm but never recovered and the fight was stopped after he went down for the third time. No doubt the defeat was a setback but it isn't one that Ward won't be able to battle back from next year.

Sean McComb (light-welterweight)

2019: 4-0, career: 9-0

SLICK and skilful, the Public Nuisance' also had to show that he has the resilience to go with his talent when he came through the first crisis of his career after being forced to take a count in the fourth round against tough Argentinian Emiliano Dominguez Rodriguez.

McComb recovered from the setback to win a genuine learning fight clearly on points. The experience should benefit him as he looks to kick on next year.

Steven Donnelly (light-middleweight)

2019: 4-0, career 8-0

BOXED superbly to win the Ultimate Boxxer 5 tournament in September and looked a class above his opponents. The Ballymena native stopped Lenny Fuller in the second round of the final after he had earlier beaten Ish O'Connor and Sean Robinson in his quarter and semi-final bouts. Having laid the foundations, he will now hope to kick on in his professional career.

Alfredo Meli (middleweight)

2019: 2-0, career: 17-0-1

THERE is something box office about the mild-mannered motor mechanic. A fearless Belfast fighting man to his core, Fredo' did the business against Achilles Szabo in his first outing of the year but was expected to finally lose his 0' when highly-rated German Araik Marutjan came to the Falls Park in August.

Marutjan had developed a reputation as a fearsome hitter but Meli put his head on the bemused German's chest and denied him the opportunity to swing in big shots. He did put the former Mac' man down but Meli got back up and scrapped his way to a points win. Needs to see more action next year.

Joe Fitzpatrick (lightweight)

2019: 2-0, career: 10-0

HAS harnessed the commitment in training to go with his undoubted talent and is now lining up for an intriguing BUI title scrap with Gary Cully in February.

The untimely passing of his father Gerry was a devastating blow to Fitzy', his family and the wider boxing circle and the Mac Man', who knocked out Belfast rival Stephen Webb in May, dedicated his Celtic title success against Iago Barros to his memory. There is plenty more to come from a talented fighter.

Jason Quigley (middleweight)

2019: 2-1, career: 17-1

REBUILDING after losing to the dangerous Tureano Johnson in July. Donegal middleweight Quigley didn't come out for the 10th round in that fight but he returned to action in California in December and moved on from the setback by beating Abraham Cordero. Now trained by Andy Lee, the Killybegs native will hope to force his way back into the title scene next year.

Conrad Cummings

2019: 1-2, career: 17-4-1

HE has had a rough time of it in and out of the ring and looked to be at the crossroads when his technique fell to pieces against Danny Dignum in November.

Cummings, a decorated amateur who had fought in WSB, looked all at sea against the Englishman in what was supposed to be a fresh start and was knocked out for the first time in his career.

Earlier in the year, Cummings had been well beaten by Luke Keeler and, although he did beat journeyman Adam Grabiec, his subsequent loss to Dignum was a career low-point. A good guy with plenty to offer, he needs to take stock and get some good advice before he fights again.

Paddy Gallagher (welterweight)

2019: 1-2, career: 16-6

THE luckless Pat-Man' had Chris Jenkins down in the sixth round of their British title clash at Falls Park but lost the fight on decision after it was stopped due to cut caused by a clash of heads. Many at ringside thought he had won it and Gallagher was inconsolable afterwards. Needs a break to kick-start his career.

Aaron McKenna (middleweight)

2019: 4-0, career: 10-0

THE Silencer' is creating a buzz across the pond and steadily moved through the gears to 10-0 in 2019. Totally dedicated to the sport, the Monaghan fighter is based in the US with his dad and younger brother Stevie. Capped off an excellent year with a stoppage win against the durable Victor Gaytan. One to watch.

Lewis Crocker (welterweight)

2019: 3-0, career: 10-0

SPLIT with trainers Ray and Mark Ginley and switched to the Gleann gym formerly run by the now retired Gerard McManus. Crocker registered three wins last year. His first six contests ended in devastating knock-out victories but he boxed his way to points successes in 2019.

Caoimhin Agyarko

2019: 4-0, career: 6-0

STEADY progress for the London-based former Holy Trinity ABC star. Registered four wins, three of them early, and finished off an encouraging year by stopping the previously unstoppable Danail Stoyanov.

Padraig McCrory (super-middleweight)

2019: 3-0, career: 9-0

THE rangy Belfast fighter scored the win of his career so far with a ferocious finish against Steve Collins junior at Falls Park in August. That earned The Hammer' the BUI title and he took a break from boxing afterwards but will return to the ring on February 1.

Cathy McAleer (super-bantamweight)

2019: 2-0, career: 3-0

THE North's only female fighter ended the year on a high by signing a promotional deal with Kellie Maloney. A former world karate and kick-boxing champion, the former Down ladies GAA star made her pro boxing debut in November 2018.

New faces

Sean Duffy (lightweight)

2019: 3-0

THE county Armagh native has tons of pedigree behind him from his amateur days and made good progress in his first year as a professional. He is working with Harry Hawkins and will look to kick on in 2020.

Paddy Donovan (welterweight)

2019: 3-0

THE Andy Lee-trained welterweight seems destined for stardom. Top Rank president Bob Arum spoke glowingly about his ability and prospects. Definitely one to watch.

Ruairi Dalton (super-featherweight)

2019: 1-0

ROOK' made his long-awaited pro debut at the Ulster Hall in October. The former Commonwealth Games star out-pointed Jose Hernandez and will hope for a busy 2020.

Callum Bradley (super-featherweight)

2019: 3-0

OMAGH native Bradley brother of former Conor McGregor sparring partner Tiarnan showed glimpses of rich potential with three wins in his first year as a pro.

See the rest here:
From the Ulster Hall to Madison Square Garden. Professional boxing review of 2019 - The Irish News

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