Thursday, March 29, 2007

Crazy Boys fight for fun

By Piet Levy

Is it a sport or is it violence? Is it friendly or is it dangerous? It depends on whom you ask.

In the back yard of a Valparaiso home, a boxing/martial arts hybrid known as Mixed Martial Arts, made popular by Ultimate Fighting Championship, has become a favorite pastime for a group of teens.

They call themselves Crazy Boy Fighting and are led by Brandon Apostoloff, a 17-year-old Valparaiso High senior.

Apostoloff said the fights are based on skill and respect. There are rules and ethics. The fighters wear gloves, referees are in place, and strong friendships have been made.

But principal Patrick Weil said some on-campus fights broke out this year because of Crazy Boy Fighting.

Weil said the administration found out about the group after seeing videos of their matches on YouTube, following the campus fight.

Weil said they appeared to be connected. School officials notified some parents, and police, and banned students from wearing Crazy Boy Fighting shirts at school.

Apostoloff said the on-campus fight only involved one Crazy Boy Fighter, and he fought only because he was attacked from behind, he claims.

Apostoloff said he suspended the fighter for two Crazy Boy Fighting match days.

"I've told them not to fight in schools and told everybody they would be suspended," he said.

Apostoloff said some neighbors have been concerned about the backyard fights, and the cops have showed up a few times. He also admits one fight got out of hand, but he said he kicked out the fighter who broke the rules and does not even speak to him anymore.

While Apostoloff said he's lost the fight regarding wearing the sport's shirts at school, he said the club will keep going as soon as the weather warms up.

"It's a really exciting sport," Apostoloff said. "It's not like any other."

While the school administration is concerned about Crazy Boy Fighting, the teens seem to have one pivotal group of supporters for now: Valparaiso police.

Spokesman Mike Grennes said officers reviewed the YouTube tape and decided not to pursue charges.

"They're volunteering to go in and wrestle, and when they're done, they're done," Grennes said. "I don't see any problem with it."


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