2013-09-20 / Sports

CROM’s Battle By The Beach

By Dan Guarino


Fighters, trainers and organizers Sarah and Chris Romulo (center) gather in the ring for Battle On The Boards II. Photos by Dan Guarino Fighters, trainers and organizers Sarah and Chris Romulo (center) gather in the ring for Battle On The Boards II. Photos by Dan Guarino The martial art of Muay Thai was on full display on Saturday, September 14th, as Rockaway’s CROM Martial Training school brought a grand exhibition of the sport to the boardwalk.

Hundreds turned out for Battle On The Boards II… Muay Thai: The King Of Martial Arts.

Spectators surrounded the ring which was set up just in front of the concessions on Beach 97th Street. For many it was their first close contact with the combat sport which combines physical and mental discipline and includes the coordinated use of fists, elbows, knees, shins and feet. It first became popular in Thailand in the 1500’s.

“Just to explain, the first three matches were exhibitions,” noted Sarah Romulo, who, with her husband, Chris Romulo, owns and operates CROM.


Top fighters from CROM Martial Training and other schools showcase the art of Muay Thai on the boardwalk at Beach 97th Street. Fight photos by Dan Guarino. Top fighters from CROM Martial Training and other schools showcase the art of Muay Thai on the boardwalk at Beach 97th Street. Fight photos by Dan Guarino. “In the first match up, Sean Boyle and Willie Robles are both CROM students,” she said. “They are training partners and friends and put on a demonstration for the crowd.”

The two matches that followed at the beginning of the afternoon were exhibitions with more experienced fighters to demonstrate technique.

According to Romulo, a number of the matches, “smoker fights,” featured “’green’ fighters that were jumping in the ring for the very first time to see how it feels before they go in for a sanctioned bout (which) will be recorded on their record.”

Fighters were paired up by weight category.

Exhibition matches included Sean Boyle/CROM vs. Willie Robles/CROM, Justin Troy of Chok Sabai vs. Vince Tonolete/ CROM and Wendy Lau/ Chok Sabai vs. Aileen Andre/ Crom.

Smoker matches, which made up the rest of the day’s program, included Jeffrey Mcintyre/ Coban’s Muay Thai Camp vs. Alex Tuttle/ Evolution Muay Thai; Omar Jones/ Class 1 MMA vs. Kevorn Daily/ CROM; David Castellanos/ Coban’s Muay Thai Camp vs. Alfonso Espinal/ Evolution Muay Thai; Marlon Wiprud/Class 1 MMA vs. Mike Saperstein/CROM; William Fung/ Coban’s Muay Thai Camp vs. Eddie Rojas/ C3 Athletics; Ronnie Hudson/Evolution Muay Thai vs. Jeremy Flores/Bladefist Muay Thai; Ryan Larkin/ Coban’s Muay Thai Camp vs. Anthony Marrerro/ CROM; Dale Bryant/ Square Circle MMA vs. Craig Young/ CROM and Andrew Rodriguez/ Coban’s Muay Thai Camp vs. Jerwin Francisco/ Square Circle MMA.

Between bouts there were 50/50 and raffle drawings for donated prizes which included Martial Arts and Cross- Fit training sessions at CROM, VIP Tickets to New York’s only MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) promotion, private sessions with Chris “Mr. Classic” Romulo, dinner for two at Uma’s restaurant and more.

Proceeds will go toward funding scholarships for financially disadvantaged children to attend training at CROM.

Chris Romulo, a Professional North American Champion, previously noted, “Our main goal is to create more exposure for the art of Muay Thai here in the Rockaways.”

“Even more so now, with the community having gone through so much turmoil since Sandy, martial arts and fitness can be an important factor in getting everyone’s lives back in order. The kids in our community need a safe space to turn to and we will be there on the boards to prove that ‘We Storm Back’!”

The Romulo’s personal experience with the storm included the destruction of CROM’s original gym and their home was also affected.

Friends and supporters in the martial arts community who came to their aid held fundraisers and generously donated, which allowed the school to finally reopen in a brand new location.

The success of Battle On The Boards II, the first to be held after Hurricane Sandy, was notable in the enthusiasm of both the crowd and the fighters.

“We were extremely pleased with the turn out,” Sarah Romulo said, “especially due to the fact that there is no boardwalk for people to just happen upon our event.

“Everyone that attended was there specifically to see live Muay Thai exhibitions, which means the art that we are so passionate about is starting to catch on around here!

“We also had many spectators from New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut in the crowd!”

Commenting on the impact the event had on local business, also struggling after the storm, Romulo enthused, “We were told by the owners of the concession stands at B97th that it was the busiest event that they have had both last year and this year!”

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