Stewart: “….their biggest success was that they took care of everyone and made their stay a pleasure”
“On 29th October, Italy held its first ever WMFC event in the beautiful medieval town of Urbino in central Italy. The organisation of this event was in the hands of Club Feltrio, a team which has enjoyed phenomenal growth this year and fantastic results at Battle of the Nations, led by team captain Gabriele Tonucci, and Head of the HMBIA Authenticity Committee Carola Sacchetti. Once again I returned as a consultant on the back of the success of Hakkapeliitta in Tampere, Finland, and I knew that matching that level of quality would be a hard task.
As soon as the event was made official, it gained immediate interest. WMFC is having a great year and this was to be the fourth First Class event of 2016; standards keep going up, but so too do expectations. Fighters travel a long way to these events so it is crucial to make sure they are taken care of – a good event is one where the fighters do not need to ask any questions about arrangements, they just focus on their fights. This should be one of the priorities of event organisers – fighters talk about their experiences, and if it is not positive, everyone will know about it. Indeed, the event for some fighters (and me) started badly thanks to an unexpected logistical problem caused in Milan by the car hire company. But I still believe that the success of an event is defined by how it ends, not how it starts.
Fighters travelled from Ukraine, Great Britain, Russia, Australia and across Italy to take part in this event, each fighter guaranteed 3 fights in their weight category for First Class (3 groups of 4 fighters), plus two massive ProFights which saw Battle Heritage of Great Britain take on Bear Paw (Club Bern) of Russia. 2016 has seen some gargantuan fights so there was a lot to live up to, but let me tell you, the fighters took it to the next level.
The lightweight category, composed of fighters from 4 different nations, was intense. The speed of these fighters was jaw-dropping and the technique involved in both swordsmanship and clinching was inspiring – but with such speed comes exhaustion, and those 3 fights took a toll on the fighters. Despite nursing an injury to his finger, Grygoriy Chaploutskiy from Ukraine came out victorious thanks to his phenomenal resilience.
The middleweight category was an Italian affair, with fighters coming from different teams and regions of Italy. This was a test of strength that brought the beast out of the fighters and proved a real show for the spectators, no fighter letting up against his opponent. It was Milo Canino from Urbino’s Club Feltrio to take first place, proving he is a force to be reckoned with in this sport.
Russia, Ukraine and Italy made up the heavyweight category, and right from the start these powerhouses kept the audience on the edge of their seats with an incredible show of strength. These fights, out of all categories, were the closest on points and the fights were tense from start to finish, but it was Russia’s Sergei Kuritsyn who finished in first place to take the glory in the heavyweight category.
Before heading to the main event, the audience were treated to a Hema demonstration which showed how diverse Urbino can be in sword sports, and in this time journalists, photographers and a TV channel arrived – even the mayor of Urbino came to see the action!
It now came down to it: the main events. The UK’s Lukas Kowal against Russia’s Aleksandr Nikitin – pure speed against unstoppable force. Nikitin knew that if Kowal had enough space, he would outfence the Russian, as he has done to so many opponents in the past. Therefore, the Russian took advantage of the extra kilos and brought the clinch to Kowal to close him down. The strategy worked, crowning Nikitin the winner of the battle on points.
The final battle of the day saw the number 1 WMFC ProFighter in the world right now, Vitaly Gryzlov, take on the UK’s Pawel Kurzak, a fighter who has won more gold this year than can be found on statues in Turkmenistan. The fight was nail-biting. The fitness of these two fighters is off the scale, and made the 3 rounds of 3 minutes look easy – but the only thing more impressive than this was their technique, each strike pounding down like a Hell Hammer, connecting with incredible precision. The fight, which was the closest of the entire tournament, was won by Vitaly Gryzlov, who somehow found the energy to perform a victory breakdance afterwards!
All the fighters, the audience and the mayor of Urbino were on their feet by the end of the event. If this is how events will be in 2017, then it’s going to been quite a year.
But the story doesn’t end here. One thing that you can be sure about with Italians, is that they will always be Made In Italy – a huge dinner was planned for us at the four star hotel where we were staying (the organisers even got us rooms half price!). We ate, we gave speeches, we shared a great evening together, which ended in a delightful surprise: a (and I believe the first ever) WMFC cake! A delicious end to a perfect day.
Some of us woke early the next day to head back to Milan and catch our flights, while others slept in a little before enjoying a training day for the Italian fighters held by Ukraine’s number 1 ProFighter, Ilias Vyshutin. I left happy, and satisfied that I had done a good job as a consultant, and was blown away by the dedication of Gabriele and Carola, whose considerable investment in the event truly paid off. For me, their biggest success was that they took care of everyone and made their stay a pleasure, and this was something duly noted by all participants. This will be one of the events not to miss in 2017, but for me now as a consultant, I’m looking for the next challenge to meet the high standards reached in 2016″.
HMBIA News thanks Gavin Stewart for such a great interwiew.