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Original Issue

Et tu, Brute?

A bloody import may be the next MMA

Omnia mutantur, nihil interit, as the Roman poet Ovid said—"Everything changes, nothing perishes." So believes Boris Giorgiutti, a sports marketer based in Rome. In 2007 Giorgiutti witnessed an annual scrum in Florence called calcio fiorentino (SI, Aug. 4, 2008). The game, a mix of rugby and smashmouth combat, is based on the Roman sport of harpastum. Captivated, Giorgiutti updated the elements and created a four-team Fight Football League, which is playing its first season and will expand to seven clubs.

Giorgiutti gave his gladiators (10 per side) uniforms: football pants, sleeveless shirts with Roman numerals, and mixed martial arts gloves, but no helmets or pads. "In the historical game, there [are] no rules," Giorgiutti says. "It leads to chaos. Fight Football has a more professional format." Forbidden are elbowing, kneeing, kicking and choking. But wrestling and slugging are legal. (Imagine football linemen beating each other to a pulp after the whistle.)

Now, Giorgiutti will visit the U.S. to explore the introduction of Fight Football here. "I'm getting 100 e-mails a day" from America, he says, adding, "It's the perfect product. You need elements of courage, respect, honor."


SKINS TO SHIRTS Since SI's '08 story on calcio fiorentino, the sport has gotten jerseys.