His mind brought him back to a time over 40 years ago when he was involved in a daily struggle, one that was far from a fair fight. When he was just a youngster in Nassau County, New York, Christian Darrow was a victim of domestic violence at the hands of his father. So when he was at school or in the old neighborhood, being challenged by another child was an easy one in comparison to what he had to endure in the family home.
“After being knocked around by a grown man, someone closer to my age or size was a joke to me,” Darrow said with a laugh at something that is far from funny. “When you’re growing up, everyone knows that one kid who was faster than anyone else around, could play baseball better, or was tougher. Well, that was me. I could fight.”
Darrow strayed in his adulthood and served 19 years in prison, the majority of his sentences due to bank robberies. He was released on October 17, 2008, but not before he had his fair share of jailhouse brawls. To stay alive behind bars, Darrow had to do whatever was necessary. He claims to have an undefeated fight “record” in jail, and the fact that he is here to talk about it gives it some credence.
Now 48, Darrow has endured more than just someone trying to shank him in the commissary. He was first diagnosed with skin cancer five years ago and has to deal with that fear every day since.
Regardless of his illness, Darrow has chosen to do what he has always done best now that he is a free man. He has entered the world of mixed martial arts, the burgeoning sport that was not even invented yet when Darrow first went to prison.
“They call this Ultimate Fighting…that’s the dumbest shit I ever heard,” Darrow said emphatically. “This is just a sport, that’s all. You can tap out, there’s a referee there to rescue you, there are rounds and rules. Where I came from (prison), you had to do what you had to do just to stay alive – sometimes against more than one guy.”
Speaking in his place of business awaiting its grand opening, Attica MMA Gym (www.atticamma.com) in Farmingville, New York, Darrow has made strides in a short period of time. He has joined the USFC promotion, once known as the Underground Street Fighting Championship but now called the Ultimate Super Fight Championship, Inc. JoJo Energy Drink has signed him to an endorsement contract and he is preparing for his inaugural match in February versus James Funaro, a local amateur fighter with a 4-3 record who last fought on December 11, 2009 at Asylum Fight League XXIV. He lost by a TKO to Michael Fischetti when the referee stopped the fight due to a cut at 2:27 of the first round.
Funaro, 23, stands at 5’11” and weighs 177 pounds. Darrow is slightly taller at 6’ and has come down from 240 pounds a year and a half ago to 175. The latter has signed a one-fight contract with the Underground Combat League (www.savevaletudo.com) to face Funaro. According to Peter Storm, the owner of the UCL, this fight will answer many of the questions being asked.
“I’m really excited that Christian will be making his official MMA debut in our league,” he said. “This is a good opportunity for everyone to see what he can do. The UCL has been around for seven years and is the number one amateur league in the country.”
Storm called this fight a “grudge match,” and one that could “garner a lot of attention.” This stems from a recent altercation that Darrow had with Funaro, one that has been the subject of much chatter on the Internet.
“This young man wrote some things online, that I was dating his cousin and there was some personal animosity towards me,” said Darrow. “I then heard that he was teaching at this school where I had sent my five-year-old son to camp. And he said some foul things.” Darrow then stated that he went down to the location on his own to confront Funaro and they took it outside.
“I got a little nervous, there was a bunch of guys around me and I slapped him,” he admits. “He took me down then his brother took a video camera out.” That’s when Darrow had to make a decision, one that would have either make or break the contract that he signed with JoJo Energy Drink just a few months earlier that prohibits him from street fighting.
“I told him to put the camera away and that I couldn’t fight back,” continued Darrow. “This young man (James Funaro) hit me with about 20 nasty-ass shots, broke my jaw and knocked me out. The kid could fight.”
The next battle will take place at an undisclosed location somewhere in the five boroughs of New York City. MMA has not been legalized in the state yet, thus the reason why cards such as this one need to be held under such clandestinity. There has even been talk of a reality television show based on the league and its fighters, hopefully culminating with the passing of the law to make MMA legal in New York.
As he looks ahead, Darrow said, “When I get in there with Funaro, will the cage become bars and his hands become knives (in his mind)? Probably.”
Darrow may even reach back into his memory when he was a mere seven years old and had a much tougher opponent than Funaro to deal with.