Check out this bunch of handsome young fellows, looking for all the world like the world's toughest boy band:
Sorry, pop fans, these boys aren't crooners, the standing fellows are a team of Russian university students here in NYC for tomorrow's NY Open Judo Tournament. I met these guys in the lobby of the storied New York Athletic Club and got them in touch with the guy who's "taking a knee", a guy who is, GASP, not a Russian. That dashing chap is my great and good friend Francesco Rulli, the proprietor of Film Annex and a tournament sponsor. Whenever Francesco meets someone, he always takes a "headshot"- my profile picture was taken by Signor Rulli a few years ago. Needless to say, he made sure to take headshots of all the Russian guys and joked about selling them off to some "cougars".
The guy in the gray hoodie seemed to be their leader, though the nice guy in the red fleece bore the dictionary/phrase book and had the best command of English (albeit not so great, though my Russian is limited to a handful of phrases). After their introductions to a couple of tournament officials, they decided to take a few hours for sightseeing before their weigh-ins. I gave them directions to the Empire State Building and bid them "До свидания!" before heading off to work. They'll have a great time, they're a bunch of twenty year old university students in New York City for five days.
I have to say, for all of the language barrier, these guys came across as a really nice bunch. I'm not so afraid of the Russians:
If you're in the NY metro area, and you want to see these guys compete, the New York Open Judo Tournament is open to the public. I'm going to check it out for a couple of hours before going off to work.