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."