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The Real Bloodsport

A Most Dangerous Game The New York Times

A Most Dangerous Game The New York Times


“Do you want to know what I am afraid of?” he said, his fingers tracing the meaty scar above his left eyebrow. Nana, a Cameroon-born transplant to Italy, leaned forward, as if to share a secret. “I am afraid of showering.”

He did not laugh. Neither did any of his teammates sitting nearby. This was not a time for joking; Nana and the rest of his team were about to begin their last training session before last Wednesday’s final match of calcio storico, a centuries-old competition that features very few rules and the sort of human wreckage generally associated with the days of the gladiators.

Nana and his friends have endless stories. There was the player whose ankle shattered at the bottom of a dog pile. The one who went into a coma after being punched in the back of the head. The guy whose ear was bitten off in the middle of a scrum. In one game, Nana had his shaved scalp cut open the way a letter opener slices an envelope.

“The thing is,” Nana continued, “when you’re playing, you don’t feel any of it.

“But then you calm down and take a shower. And that is when everything starts to burn.”

Stashed in: Are You Not Entertained?, Fight Club

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This has a real Gladiator feel to it. 

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