Everyone knows the first and second rules of Fight Club: Don't talk about Fight Club! But, in honor of the film's 17th birthday today, we're gonna ignore that rule. Since 1999, countless real-life fight clubs have sprung up across the world. Every day, regular humans get together in various settings to wail on each other and walk away bloodied yet more alive than ever. Let's take a look at some of those hardcore devotees to the Tyler Durden doctrine.
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Tough Guys In Thailand
Amateur fighters in Thailand have gotten so organized as to establish their own weight divisions and enlist referees. According to the Mirror, hundreds of onlookers gather to observe these bloody brawls. 32-year-old Joe Nok is the Tyler Durden of this operation, coordinating everything online. He told the Mirror:
"The atmosphere is simply electric. You have to be very brave to step into the ring. The crowd loves it. There's blood being spilled , bones cracking and bruises. But this country is the home of Muay Thai. Do you want fairy kisses and cuddles? Everybody is a winner. We have no losers here. We're just ordinary people with normal day jobs that like to fight. The police spoke with us and said it's a bit dangerous because we fight on the floor without mats. But this is more like sparring and not an illegal match as there is no winner or loser declared. It's just like fitness training, so we are allowed to carry on."
Project Mayhem In Moscow
Way back in 2008, two veterans of an existing underground amateur boxing club who went by the names of "Gary" and "Razor," got the idea to start a legit fight club. But this wasn't just any old fight club. They dubbed it the Ronin Family, and charged the equivalent of $900 to any big businessman that wanted to spend a week immersing himself in the fight club experience. Vice caught up with Maria Turchenkova, a young Russian freelance photographer that spent a week documenting the goings on at the Ronin Club. She said:
"I stumbled upon an ad for it on the internet. It read: 'You are not what you have—your job, your car, or your bank account. If you want to change your life, find the warrior inside you and fight your inner enemy—come and join the next course!' So I called the organizers and asked to do a story on them."
Every member of the Ronin Fam picks an alias like "Wolf, Director, Balls, Artist, etc." Turchenkova described the rigorous training process the members endured:
"The exercises were hard, and if anyone stopped midway they were beaten up and forced to start from the beginning. Those who didn't want to continue had to leave the gym and weren't allowed back. If anyone came back, they had to face complete disgrace, and that was the key point of the training, really."
Fight Club, Jr. In California
Age is just a number. It's all in your mind. Just ask the underage bruisers from Nevada Union High School in California. In late February, administrators at the school discovered that male students had been conducting fight club sessions in a rarely-used campus building. The school board my have only just gotten wise to the proceedings, but students and alumni from the school told CBS that they'd been going on for over 10 years. Bloody noses, black eyes and concussions were doled out in spades as cheering students looked on. High school senior James Herlitz told CBS:
"No one was trying to like, 'Oh I am going to beat this kid up.' Just some guys having fun, laughing, playing music and boxing."
CBS was able to confirm that the students used boxing gloves, but no protective gear whatsoever. The school principal, Dan Frisella, lamented being kept in the dark for so long:
"Parents have been aware, coaches have been aware, you know, prior to it being brought to our attention."
The facility where the fight club had been held has since been closed off to students, and the police are currently investigating further.