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The good fight: Armored combat group raises cash for vets

Axe men: Armored Combat League fighters Romario Prendaj, left, and Thomas Petrone practice in padded outfits at the New York City chapter’s Manhattan gym. Fully armored members will do battle in Park Slope on Aug. 26.
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Talk about an all knight-er!

A band of armor-plated, axe-wielding athletes will assault each other for charity at the Ninth Street American Legion post on Aug. 26, where blood will be spilled and sparks will literally fly for the benefit of wounded combat veterans, according to one fighter.

“You really can feel people smashing and crushing against each other, and smell what happens when sparks fly off a helmet because someone hit it with a sword,” said Damion DiGrazia, president of the New York City chapter of the Armored Combat League.

Considered a “combat sport,” fights in Armored Combat League are brutal, full-contact slugfests waged between two or more combatants wielding blunted swords, axes, and other medieval battle instruments, usually with the goal of either landing the most blows or hurling their opponents to the ground.

In lieu of padding, fighters don 70-pound suits of steel-plate armor, which, in addition to being historically accurate, are also the only things separating Armored Combat League matches from good old-fashioned murder, according to DiGrazia.

“You don’t wear a helmet in this sport, you’re going to die,” DiGrazia said.

But that does not mean contestants are spared from injury. It is not uncommon fighters to leave the arena short a finger or two, DiGrazia explained.

“You’re always coming out black and blue, that’s the nature of the game,” DiGrazia said. “But sometimes things go wrong, and you come out with staples in your head, or your fingers get cut off.”

The Saturday event will raise cash for wounded veterans, but it is possible that those in the audience could receive their own injuries. All it takes is the slip of a finger to send a morning star soaring into the crowd.

“I’ve seen axes fly out of peoples’ hands and literally fly past a reporter’s head,” DiGrazia said. “I remember thinking, ‘Jeez, that was lucky.’ ”

Armored Combat League will host the event in partnership with Victory Pro Wrestling, although it seems unlikely that the burly wrestlers will step into the ring with DiGrazia and his steel-clad knights.

“They’re big guys, but we have big guys too, and our big guys are wearing armor and carrying weapons,” DiGrazia said.

The event, which is being held to benefit disabled servicemen and women through Combat Wounded Veterans of America, will also feature booze, face paintings for the kids, a magic act, and raffles with a chance to win sports memorabilia.

Watch armored maniacs attack each other for charity at Rawley American Legion Post [193 Ninth St. between Third and Fourth avenues in Gowanus, (718) 788–3499]. Aug. 26. Event runs 2–10 pm; Combat League 4–6:30 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:56 pm, July 9, 2018
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