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‘Combat at the Capitale’ Brings a Bit of Bangkok to the Bowery

A volley of kicks and punches were unleashed as fights broke out on the Bowery on Friday night, but it wasn’t what you think: More than 500 people had descended on the lavish Beaux Arts building that once housed the Bowery Savings Bank to watch “Combat at the Capitale.” Presented by Lou Neglia, a three-time champion of the World Kickboxing Association, the night showcased some of the top kickboxers from gyms in New York City and beyond.

Shortly after 8 p.m., the first of the evening’s 16 scheduled bouts began. Wearing headgear, gloves and shin guards, Rich Schaefer and Nazin Sadykov battled each other for three two-minute rounds, their fists hissing through the air and legs thumping against each other. Fans sipping beer and pricy mixed drinks from hilariously tiny plastic cups shouted for the occasional “uppercut!” and “leg sweep!” in thick New York accents. Mr. Schaefer prevailed over Mr. Sadykov in a close decision, having gained the edge on two out of the three judges’ scorecards.

Almost every bout of the evening was a close one. That was no accident. When gyms contact Mr. Neglia with the fighters they want to put up for a match, he weighs them closely.  “I take pride that I make the fights even,” he said during a phone interview on Saturday. He added, “No one wants to watch an uneven fight.” Read more…