‘I’m here for the violence’ – Gladiator in Central Park

GLADIATOR FROM BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, 28-YEAR-OLD LUKE REICH: “I’m here to fight.”

Once a month in New York’s Central Park

gladiators in metal armor battle with real weapons until one is left standing

But don't worry – it's for fitness

REICH: “Because it feels good to hit people and it feels good to get hit."

Gladiators NYC is the flagship fitness program offered by nonprofit Santa’s Knights

an organization founded eight years ago by 40-year-old Damion DiGrazia

FOUNDER OF SANTA'S KNIGHTS AND GLADIATORS NYC, DAMION DIGRAZIA: "I was ex-military, I was in the Air Force, then I went to Columbia University, studied sociology, went for a master's in finance at Harvard University, and then what had seemed the natural progression is go into Wall Street, right? I remember I was asked by a supervisor at Morgan Stanley, like, 'What motivates you? Does money motivate you?' And I was like, 'no.' And at an investment bank they don't know what to do with you at that point. Like, if money doesn't motivate you, then what do I do? I was like, 'What motivates you? Helping people, I like to help people.'"

DiGrazia’s way of helping people was to start the nonprofit

and offer free martial arts and fitness classes to all those who seek it

including one where strangers smash each other in medieval gear

DIGRAZIA: "No, I don't have a six-figure salary anymore. No, I don't have that old kind of life that I used to have when I worked at Wall Street, but it's a very deep, more fulfilling life now.”

GLADIATOR FROM ITHACA, NEW YORK, 39-YEAR-OLD DMITRI TYURMIN: "I'm just here for the violence. Dish and receive."

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