In the inaugural Pioneers of American Sambo Awards presentation at the North American Freestyle Sambo Championships, Russian Oleg Taktarov was honored as PASA winner for his promotion and popularization of Sambo. The two-time World Sambo champion advanced Sambo through a career as an Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter and his roles in various Hollywood action movies including “15 Minutes, Bad Boys II, Air Force One and Rollerball.”
University of Maine-Presque Isle alumnus James “Chico” Hernandez was also honored with a national honorable mention certificate of nomination for the award. The member of four halls of fame (two in Maine) is ranked first in Maine, No. 2 in New England, and eighth nationally in the North American Grappling Association rankings. He is currently preparing for the Nov. 4 North American Grappling Championships.