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New York’s real-life fight club

On the rooftop of a seventeen-story building in the middle of a public housing complex in The Bronx, two fighters were battling it out. The roof has no railings, so anyone could easily have fallen off. Wearing only shorts and mixed martial arts gloves, they punched, grappled and kicked each other until one of them was beaten into submission and fell to the floor unconscious.

“That was the first rooftop fight I’ve ever seen,” said William H. Cavalli, an underground fighter, as he recounted the illegal bout that took place on a windy, wet day last February.

“I don’t like heights. It was kind of creepy. I wouldn’t fight on a roof.”

With only fifteen people watching, the fight ended after a quarter of an hour, when one of the fighters went down hard, his head thudding into the building’s roof. “Mind you,” said Cavalli, “there was no mat.” The fight had to be stopped.

As Cavalli described the story later in a coffee shop in Brooklyn, he seemed in awe of the fighters. “Dude, there was no fear on that roof. They did the pre-fight protocol, warm up, and then they just went in there and fought.”

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