«THEY WILL BE SCREAMING FOR MORE»: WHAT THE BATTLE VOICE TALKS ABOUT
INTERVIEW WITH THE MAIN ENGLISH-LANGUAGE COMMENTATOR OF THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP AND THE VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF HISTORICAL MEDIEVAL BATTLES. Greetings for all who wishes bread and circuses! There are three weeks until the "Battle of the Nations 2018", and we hasten again to please you with something special. This time, the interview of one of the most influential man in the world of our brutal hobby will be presented to your attention. He is a person who recently took office as the vice-president of the organization, which sets the course for historical battles in the whole world. However, he manages to combine this post with the hard work to be the fan favorite and just the soul of the company. All this is Gavin Stewart, whose voice has been accompanying the English version of the "Battle of the Nations" broadcast for several years; who presented the world with such well-known words as "holy buckler!..", "what a massive takedown!..", and also the first of its kind group with highly specialized humorous content "Sweaty Gambeson". We are sure that having learned him a little closer, you will also be full of sympathy to this simple guy in the Scottish kilt.
- Hello, Gavin. First of all, congratulations on your appointment to the post of vice-president of HMBIA. Could you tell us what exactly is this post? What are your main responsibilities now? Are you blessed with unlimited power over ordinary mortals?
- Thank you. It’s a great honour to be elected Vice-President of HMBIA. The purpose of this position is to support Edouard Eme, the HMBIA President, in his work, decisions, and processes, and take his place in the event of his absence. Responsibilities range from being available to answer team or individual questions, to implementing innovative plans, and being actively involved in the decision-making process with the Presidium and Advisory Board. Do I have “unlimited power over ordinary mortals”? Hell no! The point is to work with teams and individuals, not above them. There are lots of talented people in the HMB movement, and I want to help them turn their ideas into reality.
- It may be assumed that all this takes a hell of a lot of time. But we love you as a wonderful commentator, the enemy of sameness and boredom, whose ethers become quotes. Don't tell me there will be no more broadcasts with your charming voice? Who will take your place?
- I will have a lot of responsibilities at BotN this year, but there are none I enjoy more than the commentary — so I’m happy to say I will be in the commentary box this year. It’s my third year in this role, and I love it. However, with other responsibilities at BotN, I need a reliable partner to help and take charge if I am temporarily unavailable. For this reason, I am proud to introduce Callum Walker, a UK and "White Company" fighter, who will join me in the commentary box; we promise lively, informative and relevant commentary, with a little extra fun.
- A change in leadership for such a large project is a big deal. What difficulties you had to face in the transfer of responsibilities? And what, in your opinion, is vital for every good leader in the world of steel sports?
- Edouard was more at the heart of the transfer of responsibilities, so he would be better suited to answer this. However, I can say that we shared the same vision for the future of HMBIA as the previous Presidium, so the process was largely smooth. Edouard is a born leader — calm, wise through experience, efficient, and hugely experienced in HMB sports. These are the qualities a leader needs, especially the President of HMBIA. One thing we needed to add to this list to fulfil our roles, is good communication skills. We need to be available for teams to help them grow and take advantage of our skillsets. - And now is our favorite topic. What do you think about the new nomination - professional fights of the WMFC league? What do you think it will give to the "Battle of the Nations" in general? Well, apart from the fact that even the ancient Gods of War will come down from Olympus to look at this spectacle. Well, that goes without saying.
- I am so excited to see ProFights in Battle of the Nations. It’s important that the public get to see this thrilling aspect of 1vs1 combat, so they can see the fittest, strongest and fiercest fighters show how dynamic this style of fighting is. I guarantee that once the public sees the WMFC ProFights, they will be screaming for more.
- On this occasion, please give us some first-hand information. What other innovations are expected at "Battle of the Nations" in Rome? What contributed to its inclusion in the championship program?
- Experimental categories always go through minor changes to make them better for the fighters and for the public (for example the Polearm category), and there are often changes in rules to ensure safety in our sport, and this year is no exception. But for me, the most exciting change is that for the first time ever, Battle of the Nations proudly presents women’s 5vs5 buhurts. Previously 3vs3, this new category is monumental — it shows how rapidly the women’s categories are developing (a lot faster than any other category). Of course, not every nation can field a full team due to the numbers of prepared fighters still being a little low in certain countries, so we have created the possibility to have teams of mixed nations fighting under the HMBIA flag. However, we strongly believe that more and more women will get involved in the sport, and soon fighters will have the opportunity to proudly represent their nations in a full women’s 5vs5 team.
- Professional full-contact fights of the WMFC version, as well as the rules for which they are conducted, are still unusual for the classic list of championship nominations. How would you rate this format, its prospects and the work done by the HMBIA Marshal Committee in this direction?
- ProFights are not new to medieval combat, and in fact I recently met the two Russian fighters who did the first ever ProFight! Back in those days the rules were very general and based on predictions rather than actual situations, but after years of development, the WMFC and HMBIA Marshals have done some incredible work in developing a safe, fair, and visually stunning set of rules. I recently attended the HMBIA Marshals Summit in Latvia where I had the chance to talk about these rules with the marshals who created them. We are lucky to have such dedicated professionals, and I am proud to have the opportunity to work with them.
- You are the master of witty quotations and dead-on statements, and, until recently, your main weapon was the imagination and microphone. But have you ever been on the lists? Did you ever have the urge to take in hand a piece of bloodthirsty metal and go into the battle?
- ОMy biggest regret in this sport was the fact that I started too late. Practical reasons meant my training was limited when I started properly with longsword and polearms, and then problems with my right shoulder started. It’s depressing. I have the ability to read the fights and identify the strengths and weaknesses of a fight, but I am constantly on the outside. That’s why I am so proud of all the people who post on Facebook and VK videos of training, fitness routines and goals, new armour, event participation — I have so much respect for these incredible athletes, and I want them to succeed in the ways I was not able to.
- What categories do you find most interesting? Do you have favorites in duel and team battles among the stars of the WMFC league? In what club or national team would you like to fight?
- For technique, I love the longsword category. When it is done well, it is not just a sport – it is poetry: rhythm, grace, strength, and passion. In fact, my commentary is usually pretty bad during the longsword fights, because I am totally absorbed in the fight and cannot find the words! I love ProFights too, and some of the phenomenal athletes who fight: Vitaly Gryslov (RUS) — he is the ultimate fighter and sportsman, and for him, the fight is everything. Even after victory, he breakdances – people might think that is strange, but you can see that it is because he has put his life into the fight, so afterwards, he returns to a different world. Pawel Kurzak (UK) — superior fitness, controlled aggression, and an example to fighters of the future, being a born leader of athletes. Ira Rogozovsky (ISR) — superbly rapid, tenacious and aggressive. Her speed and strength in buhurts and ProFights are unique, making her a fan favourite in any tournament. Ilias Vyshutin (UKR) — a technical wizard, incredible temperament and a gifted instructor; he is the ultimate all-round fighter across different categories.
Regarding teams, I am a big fan of Club Bern (RUS). It’s like a factory for champions, and they have the world at their feet. I have also organised training sessions in Italy involving some of their top veterans, and you can see how passionately they teach other athletes. White Company (UK) is a team I have watched achieve stratospheric results in an astoundingly short space of time, collecting a multitude of medals, thanks to their clinical fighting style and strict training programme.
- As the owner and inspirer of the thematic public about medieval battles, what you can say about the current development of HMB content, the level of journalism and other promotion?
- We improve every year, because we have the motivation to improve. For example, I evaluated my performance as commentator the first year, and again in the second, and I made extensive notes on what to improve – any professional would do the same. Our journalistic work is voluntary, but if we treat it like a full-time job we depend on, the result is professional and confident. We still have improvements to make in public relations and journalism, but with a talented group of individuals, the motivation to create direction comes from within us.
- And the last question: what are your further plans in our cozy world of medieval violence. Are you going to keep gladden your fans with irony and a subtle sense of style? Or the kilt will go in the storeroom, and it will be replaced by a business suit? In addition to the championship, what plans and projects would you like to implement primarily?
- Well, I was elected for who I am, not a person I could be. This means that in everything I do, there must always be a part of me. My kilt will never be replaced by a business suit at BotN, because that’s not who I am in that moment, and I can think of nothing worse than becoming a different person because of my responsibilities. I don’t think I have any fans (!), but I’m never going to stop being myself and enjoying my journey in the HMB movement.
My projects after Battle of the Nations? “AFTER”?! I’ve got so much work to do right now that even the concept of “after BotN” seems like myth! I’m not sure right now, but I will discuss potential projects with President Edouard Eme. However, I can tell you that projects will involve public relations and communications... right after I have a glass of wine and a trip to Russia!
Thank you for your attention, friends! So plan your spring holidays correctly, if you understand what we are talking about. At the finish line before the journey to Rome, we will sync watches once again and secure the words of support of the most notable people in the movement. So until then, gain strength.
See you and good luck!
Interviewer: Marina Golovina, Svetlana Fyodorova
Translator: Yulia War