(This story was first published at USAToday.com)
VENICE, Calif. – In the back of Gold’s gym, with clear skies overhead, an L.A. moment unfolded.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California, a five-time Mr. Universe and Hollywood action hero, joined Logan Paul, the YouTube celebrity and aspiring boxer, for Logan’s podcast. But it was something else that brought them together on a recent morning.
Schwarzenegger and Paul used the podcast to announce they will present the Slap Fighting Championship March 5 in Columbus, Ohio.
That’s right, slap fighting.
“I love the absurdity of it,” Paul told USA TODAY Sports. “I love the idea that two guys could just stand across from each other and just slap each other and see who falls down first. It’s hilarious to me. It’s like, how is that a real event? What the (expletive) is that sport?”
Said Schwarzenegger, “I know we’re going to have a great time watching the slap competition as long as we don’t get slapped.”
The slapping will be done by the likes of Dawid “Zales” Zalewski, a super heavyweight who in October slapped former strongman Artur “Walus” Walczak so hard Walczak suffered a brain injury and later died at the age of 46, according to multiple published reports.
Then there’s Koa “Da Crazy Hawaiian” Viernes, a 370-pound former football player, boxer and wrestler.
The event will take place March 5 at the annual Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival in Columbus. It will be streamed on Fanmio.com and Paul’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.
“The goal is to get maximum exposure for the sport and what we’re doing,” Fanmio CEO Solomon Engel said.
A few months ago, representatives of a Polish slap fighting organization called PunchDown reached out in hopes of collaborating with Schwarzenegger, said Brian Powers, executive director of Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival. Powers said he looked into it and saw the fights, mostly being held in Europe, have generated a lot of interest on YouTube.
For example, a compilation of knockouts by Vasily Kamotsky, a Russian slap fighter nicknamed “Dumpling,” has been viewed 50 million times in the past five months, according to YouTube.
Schwarzenegger checked it out too.
“I thought it was a great idea, because I saw it on video and social media and I thought the audience was extremely enthusiastic,” Schwarzenegger said.
Powers said he then reached out to Engel, the CEO of Fanmio who put together the exhibition boxing match between Paul and Floyd Mayweather in June. (Paul survived all eight rounds.)
Brainstorming led to the decision to bring together Schwarzenegger, 74, and Paul, 26, to promote the event.
“It’s not that odd,” Schwarzenegger said. “It’s only odd because I could be his grandfather.”
Paul said he actually considered competing in a slap fighting event in Russia, and a video posted on YouTube in 2019 shows him slapping a man known as “Slap For Cash,” who toppled to the ground upon being smacked.
But Paul ultimately decided not to compete.
“I was too scared of getting my brain slapped out of my head,” he said. “So I backed out. But I’ll gladly watch other crazy people do it.”
Floyd Mayweather vs. Logan Paul: Best photos
view 49 images