GladiatorsNYC armored combat events in Central Park

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This is the kind of fight club the organizers want people to talk about.

Medieval fight club GladiatorsNYC held court Saturday during a free exhibition at West 70th Street and Central Park West.

Combatants brandish authentic weaponry. The edges of their swords, maces and axes were dulled — but they’re real steel — and the real deal.

Damion DiGrazia, 40, who founded the group eight years ago, has the battle scars to prove it.

“I’ve had staples in my head, broken my nose multiple times, dislocated both my shoulders uncountable times, dislocated my knee…. broken ribs,” DiGrazia recounted to The Post. “It sounds overwhelming, but in actuality, I can say, without a doubt, that whatever I’ve paid in bone and blood has been worth the journey.”

A slightly bloodied Luke Reich, 28, after a bout at a Gladiators NYC armored combat event in Central Park.
A slightly bloodied Luke Reich, 28, after a bout at a GladiatorsNYC armored combat event in Central Park.
Stephen Yang

Since February, the group has settled scores once a month in Central Park.

In order to win the group fighting “melees” you have to knock your opponent to the ground.

“Think of it like football, with weapons, armor, and full-contact MMA — except that instead of just trying to get the guy that’s holding the football, you’re trying to get the entire other team. At our monthly event in Central Park, spectators get to witness these melees and also one-versus-one dueling, which is point-based,” DiGrazia said.

The Manhattan native is used to cutthroat battles. He’s a former Morgan Stanley analyst. He also served in the Air Force before mixing it up with the heavy-hitters at Harvard, where he earned his Master’s degree in finance.

Gladiators NYC hosted an armored combat event in Central Park on Sept. 4, 2021.
GladiatorsNYC hosted an armored combat event in Central Park on Sept. 4, 2021.
Stephen Yang

When he’s not trying to beat the daylights out of his opponents, DiGrazia runs a non-profit called Santas Knights in Harlem, whose mission is to “bring free martial arts, fitness, and activities to everyone.”

“Amazingly enough, no one has ever called the NYPD on us yet,” he said. “We’ve really just been bathed in love and positivity by everyone that comes to our events or happens to stumble upon us in the park during their time there.”

The noble knights don the armor, which can cost thousands of dollars, for a number of reasons.

Orlando Mendez, 33, field captain, after a bout at a Gladiators NYC armored combat event in Central Park.
Orlando Mendez, 33, field captain, after a bout at a GladiatorsNYC armored combat event in Central Park.
Stephen Yang

“They often come for the excitement, dreams of honoring their ancestors, challenging themselves, improving their health, to prove themselves in combat, a love for medieval and/or antiquity, but they often stay for other reasons like community, purpose, and inner fulfillment,” DiGrazia said.

For future events, visit GladiatorsNYC on Instagram. To learn more, go to www.gladiators.nyc.



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