KASAI Elite Grappling Championships is the brainchild of a consortium led by president Rolles Gracie and CEO Richard Byrne, a financier (and black belt in jiu-jitsu) who is president of Benefit Street Partners, and the former CEO of Deutsche Bank.
Joining them are former UFC title challenger turned broadcaster Kenny Florian, third-degree black belt Erik Owings (co-creator of RUSHFIT), and Ken Gelman, founder of G-Funk Sports & Entertainment with 20-plus years in sports, marketing and media across fight sports organizations including Strikeforce, WWE, Shooto Brazil, Glory Sports International, Bellator MMA and more.
KASAI, which will debut in the Fall, adopts its name from the Japanese term for 'a fire that rages uncontrollably'.
The submission grappling series will host professional and amateur live events, open to male and female competitors and catering to different age groups, weight classes and skill levels; white belt through black belt.
"There are exceptional competitors and a passionate martial arts audience out there, particularly on the East Coast," says CEO Richard Byrne.
"We look forward to hosting events for the grappling community that profile pedigreed global talent, while unearthing next-generation prospects," says Gracie.
KASAI is targeting its first amateur and professional events for later this year, with KASAI's first amateur tournament scheduled October 21.
The amateur tournament will take place at Baruch College, located at 55 Lexington Avenue in New York City. Participants will compete under IBJJF rules.
"We're excited to kick off the KASAI era by hosting a dynamic and entertaining Jiu-Jitsu tournament in mid-town Manhattan," said Rolles Gracie. "Our team is committed to providing a great experience for all competitors including high-quality competition and best-in- class logistics."
For more information, visit www.kasaigrappling.com. Follow KASAI on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.