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Twenty-first century entrepreneurs require global vision, a vision where dominance only the bottom line and fully realizing the potential of your brand requires imagination and agility, crossing borders and extending market domains.

Few brands achieve a winning global formula, one that comprises of flexibility and brand identity; old-school promoters perceive market expansion as offering more risk than reward, or brand dilution rather than domination. However, entrepreneurial success in 21st century global markets demands Olympian agility and fitness. A case study in global excellence, Mansion Group, an online gambling company based in Gibraltar, is a success story worthy of examination.

Montreal Impact: From Zeros to Heroes

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Since the early history of the National Hockey League (NHL), and of professional hockey, the Montreal Canadiens have dominated the city's headlines, been front-page news for decades, and dominated the league winning 24 Stanley Cups between 1915 and 1993. On April 29th 2015, the Montreal Impact lost the second match of the CONCACAF Champions' League Final, 4 to 2, against one of North America's richest, most followed, and dominanting clubs Mexico's Club America. Yes, at the end of the day they lost, but at the same time the acheived the milestone of gaining access to their first major final. This has also contributed to the ever-rising popularity of football (or soccer if you wish) in Montreal, the province of Quebec, and because it was a nationality televised event, Canada.

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Mic Patterson, the Man!

I must confess I'm no wrestling aficionado. I must also confess that my first International Wrestling Syndicate match at the Plaza Theater in Montreal on November 15th was spectacular. One more confession, it was my first ever wrestling match in my life; and heck, it was professional.

While the matches most likely are fixed and fake, the brutality, courage and athleticism are real. The performances are reminiscent of classic comedy acts such as The Three Stooges, brilliant and simplistic slapstick, accompanied by adrenaline, exuberance, and self-mocking rowdy fun that goes hand-in-hand with a physical performance that is breathtaking and rather insane.

Bernard Locks up with Beibut

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We are only one and a half weeks removed from Bernard Hopkins' record setting performance at the DC Armory. He became the oldest boxer to unify alphabet belts, in the process becoming a lineal world titlist. His opponent Beibut Shumenov, a maverick, regularly chooses to suit up without a cornerman. That leaves him without a second opinion between rounds & no wisecracker shouting out commands as is custom. Only the cutman applies Vaseline to his swellings. There's something to be said about a man gone rogue. In boxing, a pep talk has been known to unleash a running scowl, in the event a fighter is trailing on the scorecards. The score is shrouded in mystery until the final bell sounds, but everybody in the Armory was keeping count out of a possible 120. It seemed that on the night, Beibut was never really in this one.

It's no secret, matchmakers bait their prizefighters into taking (health) risks. Beibut obviously has his reservations about keeping a large entourage. Everything he needs is packed up and waiting for him inside the ring. Even so, it takes a madman to step into the ring unabated opposite a legend of the sport, especially without a team of specialists. Bernard turned 49 this past January and it seems his body is composite gold. Sure his work rate has diminished but great fighters like Bernard make the requisite adjustments to their arsenal as the years pile on. He was once a maverick in his own right, back when he made twenty consecutive title defenses between the ages of 30 and 40. That's a decade worth's of liver shots. In his defense he practices the 'art of not getting hit' and Compubox stats seem to tell the tale: 186 total punches landed to Beibut's 124.

The boxers weighed in at 173 a piece, and ballooned up to 180 the day after a carb-rich meal. At 49, Bernard maintains a 30inch belt size. Beibut is also year-long gym rat. Boxers have been known to purge their bodies in the lead up to a fight but these boys really run the gamut 300+days a year. I'm talking meal planning, cardio, and fight simulation packed into a tight schedule. The hardest part of the lifestyle is being estranged from family. It occurs several times a year, or as often as they sign the dotted line. With a full training camp under his belt, it occurred to me that Bernard had leveled the field on his adversary. With his victory, it remains to be seen whether he will accept a purse bid from Montreal's Adonis Stevenson, owner of WBC belt, as well as The Ring Honorarium. Pride and Prejudice are the two ideals governing the sport. A fighter simply cannot bear the thought of walking away from a challenge. If Bernard accepts, it could spell the very end of an illustrious career. Adonis possesses monolithic power that demands positive regard from its opponent at all. But if Saturday was any indication, Bernard can't be counted out, at least for the next little while.

As for Beibut, the future is unclear, but hardly bleak. Since the loss, talks have intensified but nothing has come of it. Odds are he faces a fighter just short of contention. Maybe he wallows in the mid-table for a while. But if his multi-fight contract with Showbox is any indication, we haven't seen the last of him on North American soil.


Football's Gay Agenda

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Homosexuality's Rank on Today's Roster

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With the recent announcement of 2014 NFL draft prospect Michael Sam's homosexuality, discussions have overwhelmed social media platforms and sports broadcasting regarding the acceptance and role of the gay athlete in the sport of American football. Although the discussions have revolved around football at a professional level, it has real-time affects on both the collegial and high school level of play. The coming-out of a gay football player gnaws at the culture of the sport, the reaction of the community and peers, and especially sports media highlighting an athlete's sexual orientation overshadowing the game.

Football has always been portrayed as the manliest of all sports. The very nature of football surrounds the values of strength and masculinity. From raw on-field antics to the off-field comaderie with teammates; a majority of football players regard their team and coaching staff as a brotherhood. Matching the culture of the sport to the characteristics of today's stereotypical gay man (i.e. flamboyant, effeminate and emotionally weak), you can see what a gay athlete is up against when weighing the idea of announcing his sexuality to his team and the community in which he plays. 

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When reflecting on the backlash a gay football player may receive when announcing his sexuality, you need to take into account a broad range of demographics. Although we, as the public, may assume that every gay athlete's story is riddled with bullying and verbal/physical abuse, in reality, sometimes the topic barely skims the locker-room. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Marc-André Laparé who played one season with the Concordia Stingers as a long snapper and fullback. His teammates approached him with curiousity and impartial questions when they found out of his homosexuality from his relationship status on Facebook. During his time with the team, he never felt isolated due to his sexuality, recalling:

"For sure first I'm a shy guy and playing in an english team when your first language is french sometimes makes you feel isolated but I didn't feel that way because of my sexuality."

When asked about his experience pertaining to the locker room atmosphere, Marc-André Laparé did say that sometimes some players made jokes but it was all fun and games and none of it was in malicious-intent. Laparé's experiences as a gay football player were far from negative however he does consider himself lucky. He wishes that all gay athletes had a support system and felt comfortable enough to announce their sexuality to their coaching staff and teammates but he know's it's still a far-cry from reality:

"It's a battle, that humans needs to take care of. It's not only about football, it's bigger than that; gay players are the same quality of athletes."

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The spolight media placed on Michael Sam's announcement derailed from the coverage of the player's skills and his performance in the 2014 NFL Combine. Many fans of the game used social media platforms, such as Twitter, to vent their frustration on the media's decision to highlight Sam's sexual orientation rather than focus on his actual athletic ability and skills, which most believed should be the topic of conversation during the weekend of the NFL Combine. Avid Twitter user, local Montrealer and football fanatic, Alex (@basicsmtl) replied to a tweet regarding the focus of sports media on Michael Sam's sexuality prior to the combine stating:

"@T_Elyse which is so sad in our day n age...he led the D1 in sacks, 6'3 260 pounds, his college teammates didn't care...NFL is being wack."

Most football fans are aggravated that the announcement of his sexual orientation is taking away from his skills as a top NCAA football player. Twitter user and Sports Journalist, Manny Randhawa (@MannyRsports) tweeted:

"Does anyone care about #MichaelSam 's #NFL potential? My story on media's focus on his sexual orientation bit.ly/1cCeltH#NFLCombine"

The media's focus on Sam's sexual orientation overshadows his athletic ability completely at the NFL Scouting Combine regardless of his performance. People will be talking about his gay "agenda" and not his quickness or arm and hand strength as most defensive end prospects are being scrutinized on. Due to the media's interest, my bet is that the NFL scouts and coaches could tally up Michael Sam's gay historic timeline with more ease than the stats of the competing defensive-ends class. And this is just the beginning, the approaching NFL Draft (May 8-10, 2014) will boil-up the topic again and over seven million anticipated viewers will be dicussing, on multiple social media platforms and among themselves, the media's gay agenda regarding football leaving no room for Michael Sam's on-field ranking.

For decades, the potential consequences of a professional athlete in a major American team sport announcing his homosexuality have been debated and agonized over in detail. Although the sport of football seems to have taken a step in the right direction regarding the public acceptance of a gay player at the national level, it is still yards behind being deemed as "normal" due the sport's deep-rooted culture in masculinity and the sports media's obsession in broadcasting the love story of a player rather than their athletic ability.

Where Every Fan Knows Your Name

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 The Top 5 Sports Bars in Montreal

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Home of the Habs, Alouettes and Impact, Montreal is high with sports fever.  Although the city has experienced their share of fallouts, including their publicized divorce with the former Montreal Expos; the population doesn't shy away from their sports-affiliated culture. 

However, with a local professional team to root for each season of the year, attending a live game will dent your pockets. Even if you score a cheap ticket, the transportation costs along with food and beverage is considered a luxurious splurge. So what is a Montreal sports fan to do...

We will take you through 5 of Montreal's best sports bars that will ensure you catch your favorite game without having to sacrifice your hunger, your financial stability, or your comfort. 

 

Chez Serge

5301 St. Laurent, corner of Maguire

At first I was impressed with the management's choice in installing a TV on the ceiling of the men's bathroom (don't ask how I know about it) however, as a female, it left me feeling neglected. Not all females only watch sports to appease their male partners, but I was quick to learn that Chez Serge has created a sports bar atmosphere that does just that; catering to their male sports fans! The servers are all female and willing... to keep you entertained by dancing on the bar between periods.

Located on the popular night-life street of St-Laurent Boulevard, hockey is their broadcast of choice and Chez Serge strictly airs only Montreal Canadiens games. Meaning, if you are looking to watch any other team but the Habs, look elsewhere because this place is loyal to the Canadien's game! The large disco ball flashing red, white, and blue across the bar will remind you that we are in a city that bleeds hockey, Canadien's hockey, before all else.

One thing is certain, you'll see the game no matter where you are sitting. The spot is equipped with one giant 110-inch TV screen, four "smaller" 58-inch plasma screens, and additional screens in the booths.

With an extensive drink menu, tall boy beers and funnels, the best thing about this place might just be their mechanical bull that you can ride for free, all night long! The place is guaranteed to be packed so don't even think about just dropping in before the puck drops.

 

La Station des Sports 

2051 St-Catherine Ouest, corner Du Fort

At the edge of Downtown Montreal on the coverted St-Catherine Ouest lies the Sports Station. The size of this place may daunt you however the amount of television screens guarantees that any seat in the house has a prime view of the game. The outside terrace matches in size covering the entire length of the bar's "three-store-sized" front.

As a customer, you have the option of sitting at one of the bar's self-serve beer tables equipped  with their own taps. And you might want to opt-in for one when the place is extremely busy on nights hosting the UFC fights because a server, understandably, gets much more difficult to signal down. 

At any mention of the Sports Station, you'll get the same reaction across the board, exclaiming they sell huge pitchers of beer for cheap! And as cheap as the beer comes, hard liquour doesn't fall too far behind so you have decisions to make on how you'd like to get tipsy rather than what your budget forces you to drink. 

 

Peel Pub

1196 Rue Peel, corner of René-Lévesque

Possibly known best for their 99 cent shooters special every Thursday night, Peel Pub offers up inexpensive classic sports bar food and beer/drinks regularly! Along with their pleasently priced menu, their two floors have giant tv screens mounted in all directions and tuned into different sporting events (except when the Canadians play of course). 

Some people might enjoy attending Peel Pub during their off-hours, because if you catch them on a busy night, you are looking at waiting in an indefinitely long line to get in and rowdy crowds rooting for their team. You can't deny the exciting atmosphere once you are seated though! The staff is quick to take your order and will do so with a smile on their face which is refreshing in this type of service industry where friendliness is much harder to come by these days.

It is worth noting that due to their location being in the center of downtown Montreal, Peel Pub tends to be filled with tourists although it is a popular classic with locals as well! 

 

PJ's Pub

6910 Rue Saint-Jacques

When you first walk into PJ's, you're jaw will drop at how large the space is. With 100 flat screens and six projectors, PJ's Pub offers all sporting events and will be more than willing to change one of the channels if you wish to watch something that strays away from the popularity of "Hockey Night in Canada". Sidenote, when it's not packed, it can feel quite lonely so make sure to attend with a group of friends. 

The location has over eight bars and includes all Pay-Per-View events free of charge. From finger food to full course meals, prices are more than welcoming and if you look closely, the menu mirrors that of the Sports Station mentioned earlier which hints to shared owners.

To sum it all up, their budget-friendly large breakfasts are great with a side of NFL Football Sunday or any early weekday soccer matches. And everyone is too busy watching the screens to judge the fact that you are hiding behind oversized sunglasses and are harvesting a bottle of Advil to treat your nasty morning-after headache. PJ's is your sports-watching safehaven.

  

Sharx

1606 St-Catherine Ouest, corner Guy-Concordia

Welcome to Sharx, your not-so-obvious sports bar. The 12 pool tables, bowling alley, and virtual golf rooms, might sway your decision in choosing to sit back and catch the big game. But then you'll take in the basket of fries and large vinyl L-shaped couches that circle three large bars and more than several giant-sized tv screens. There is no question that you can visualize yourself kick back your feet, order a beer, and cheer on your team.
 
If you are one not to enjoy the rowdiness that usual comes along with the usual slap-in-your-face (deafening) sports bar atmosphere, Sharx grants you that peace of mind because their set up allows for enough distance between groups to actually hear the person you are sitting next to.
 
If you are not a huge sports-fan but are tagging along because you don't want to spend your night in alone and miserable, you do have a chance in convincing your sports-enthused company to sign up for a game of bowling because each lane ends with tv projectors showing the games! Everybody wins at Sharx!
 
The slam dunk about Sharx is that they are more than likely to have space for you last minute because not everyone has discovered this underground gem which means less grief in the chance of missing the winning goal and more time celebrating it in comfort!

 

How to Snag a Professional Athlete

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Nathan w/football

When former Concordia Stinger defensive backs coach Mike White decided not to return for the 2013 season, one fifth year player was approached to replace him, Nathan Taylor. Back then, Nathan Taylor passionately endorsed Mike White, labelling him as "one of the best coaches" he has ever had. Now with Nathan Taylor as the head of the backfield, he possesses the ability to get first-year CIS players to believe in themselves and their opportunity to build a defensive that is known to shut down any opposing offense they face. He doesn't do it with embellishment. He's not a sugar coater. He does it by being relatable and caring of his players' well being on and off the field. With the Vanier Cup highlighting the end of the 2013 football season, I had a chance to sit down with coach Taylor to speak all things football and what his perspective is launching into the off-season with the Concordia Stingers that finished 0-9.

TH: What is your football philosophy?

NT: You have got to be able to play without fear and with reckless abandon. At the same time, you also need to be under control. A lot of people try to play to recklessly and without reason.You have to play kind of like a skud missile, you are ready to do damage and ready to make a play but at the same time you are controlled. All your focus and your tenacity and your intensity is pointed in one direction and you are very focused in that one goal. 

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On a gray and rainy day, the Concordia Stingers fell to Sherbrooke's Vert et Or 28-21 wrapping up their 2013 winless season and a final confirmation that the team will not be present in the post-season championship run. It had been a long and hard season for the entire Concordia Stingers community, but defensive backs coach Nathan Taylor made sure to congratulate his line on fighting until the very end, holding Sherbooke to only 228 passing yards. For his players, this day marked the beginning of an off-season lined with uncertainty. For coach Taylor, this day presented opportunity for growth and the beginning of the recruitment process.

Nathan Taylor struggled as a bench warmer for the local Lasalle Warriors during his early years of playing football to winning Most Valuable Player for the Concordia Stingers during his final year of playing CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport). Signed as a free agent to the Montreal Alouettes, he was released during preseason. To keep his head in the game, he accepted Concordia's offer to enlist him as the defensive backs coach of the Stingers. At the age of 25, he wants to share as much as he can with the younger generation of athletes, which is why he is focusing in on recruiting the school's next defensive talent.

"I have never ignored or dismissed an inbox or conversation from a young football player. I have to give back any way possible, no point in learning all of this and not passing even a bit of it on to the next generation."