Wed Jul 01 10:23pm EDT
Score one for the good guys, finally.
Antoni Hardonk, a heavyweight who competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, had just finished a training session last month in Los Angeles near Los Angeles International Airport.
He was talking with his attorney, Nima Safapour, when three young men approached him. They asked if he had money so they could buy cigarettes.
"My feeling is I want to help someone if I can, so I pulled out my wallet," Hardonk said.
But he had no change or small bills, so he told the men, whom he estimated to be between 18 and 20 years old, that he couldn't help them.
That's when one of them pulled out a homemade knife, which he said had about a two-inch blade, and demanded his wallet. Hardonk, who is 6 feet 4 and around 250 pounds, was surprised.
But not only is he a professional figher, he was a security guard and a bouncer in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He didn't frighten or lose his composure.
At that stage, one of the other men said, "He's serious. We'll hurt you if you don't."
Hardonk continued to remain calm and told the men if they wanted his wallet, they'd have to come and get it. The men had second thoughts and left. At that point, Safapour suggested it would be wise if he were to drive Hardonk home instead of allowing him to walk by himself.
Only a very short distance away, Safapour eyed the same three men surrounding a woman. Safapour decided to call the police, because he knew the men were up to no good and the likelihood of something bad happening was increasing. The woman was saved when the men turned their attention on a man who was walking by himself. They went to him and more aggressively demanded his wallet, eventually wrestling with him and taking it.
Hardonk was watching from the car, about 80 to 100 feet away, when he saw them harassing the man. He jumped out of the car and began to run over to try to help the man, whom he did not know.
He wanted to make sure, though, that the man was being robbed and was shouting, "Is that your wallet?" as he was running toward the incident in progress.
Hardonk knocked over two of the men, but the third, who had the victim's wallet, took off running. Hardonk followed. The man who had the wallet dropped it and the trio managed to jump over a fence and into a thicket of trees and get away.
As Hardonk thought about the incident later, he realized it might have been best just to cooperate.
"In a similar situation in the future, it would probably be better just to give them the money and be done with that," he said. "Obviously, I had much better (fighting) skills, but is it worth the risk? They could have had a gun, other knives, who knows?
"But I'm stubborn. And I fight to earn my money and that's a hard way to make a living. And I'm not just going to give it away to guys like that."
Though he knew he took a large risk by chasing the suspects down after they had taken the other man's wallet, he said he has no regrets about that.
Too many people would do nothing for fear of not wanting to be involved. Hardonk's attitude is dramatically different.
"I believe if you can do something to help someone else, you should," Hardonk said. "We're all here and we should all try to help each other if we can. It's the right thing to do. I just did what I thought was right."
Los Angeles police told Hardonk and Safapour that there were three similar incidents on the same block in the same week. No arrests have been made.
"Really young guys, and I think they were probably on drugs or something," Hardonk said. "It's too bad. But I didn't think it was right just to stand by and do nothing."
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